by Ben Gardner
Before I listened to the album for the first time, I saw a tweet that read: “This album feels like 79% Drake, 21% Savage.” Although it was a bit exaggerated (the ratio is more like 65%-35%) Her Loss feels more like a Drake album in which 21 Savage is featured guest, rather than a full-on collab album. There are multiple Drake solo songs, and Drake handles the chorus on most tracks. Even though 21 Savage was relegated to a smaller role than expected, it seems that his presence was enough to ignite a fire under Drake. After his past two disappointing efforts Honestly, Nevermind and Certified Lover Boy, I was pleasantly surprised by the improved effort on this one. After their success with past collaborations such as “Mr. Right Now” and “Jimmy Cooks,” the pairing of Atlanta’s cold-blooded spitter with Canada’s emotional pop-rap king was a no-brainer.
The album starts off with a bang in “Rich Flex,” which has become the subject of memes due to Drake’s comical yet enthusiastic appeals to 21 Savage to “do somethin’” and “talk to the opps’ necks” for him during the start of the song. After a solid 21 verse and Drake interlude, the beat switches to set up skillful bars from both artists over a Nardo Wick-esque beat – all in all, a great intro track. Next up is “Major Distribution,” which starts off like a classic, slow Drake ballad before another abrupt switch to a threatening beat. The two rappers have great chemistry on the track, mirroring each other’s verses a couple of times. For example, Drake spits the line “Bad Bunny numbers, it’s a robbery,” followed by 21 Savage’s “Harry Styles numbers, it’s a robbery.” The Metro Boomin’ beat on “More M’s” has Savage Mode vibes, and 21 Savage obviously feels comfortable spitting over a dark and sinister beat. Drake also seems at home rapping aggressively.
The rest of the energetic songs on Her Loss are less impressive. The first beat in “Broke Boys” is atonal, harsh, and hard to listen to; it ruins an otherwise decent vocal performance from Drake. “Circo Loco” is currently getting dragged online for sampling Daft Punk’s legendary “One More Time.” The producers essentially just slapped Drake’s typical hi-hats onto the sample, which was a downright lazy decision. Drake’s vocal performance is also uninspired: he just sings the chorus from the original Daft Punk song with minimal interpolation. I appreciate when artists pay homage to past music in creative ways through sampling and other means (see Drake’s own “Nice for What”), but he failed to do so in this attempt. “Pussy and Millions,” meanwhile, is just okay. Travis Scott’s verse (the only feature on the album) is average, but the beat he raps over is mixed weirdly. Drake’s chorus is also boring and uninspired, a trend continued on some songs in this album such as “Treacherous Twins.”
The majority of the chill tracks range from okay to decent. On “Privileged Rappers,” 21 Savage drops an equally seductive and murderous verse, while Drake handles the chorus and slips in a goofy “purr” adlib. “Spin Bout You” is clearly the best song on the album: both rappers serve up strong vocal performances over a smooth soul sample and solid 808s. Drake drops a clever line with “R&B group from the ‘90s / I’ll get you in Vogue” in connection to the duo’s fake magazine cover they posted to promote the album. Weirdly, Vogue Magazine is currently suing Drake and 21 Savage for that promotion. Drake also drops the seemingly feminist line “…seen that men who never got pussy in school are makin’ laws about what women can do” in reference to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. From this, you would think that Drake has outgrown his womanizing ways, but unfortunately, the rest of the album proves otherwise. He disses various women throughout, including Serena Williams, New York rapper Ice Spice, and most notably Megan Thee Stallion on “Circo Loco.” Here, he implies that the Houston rapper lied about getting shot in the foot by Tory Lanez. Both Drake and 21 Savage drop their typical women-objectifying bars throughout the album, so it’s safe to say they aren’t feminists.
“3AM on Glenwood” is the only solo 21 Savage track on the album. He sticks to his tough persona, but also gets vulnerable about his past and the losses he’s experienced. “Hours in Silence,” the longest track on the record at around six-and-a-half minutes, starts with Drake rapping with a 21 Savage-esque flow — but 21 fails to return the favor with a lackluster follow-up verse. The song then slows down into an extended, monologue-y verse by Drake for the last four minutes of the track. It sounds good, but is just too long – not to mention Drake comes off as whiny and toxic, repeating the line “It’s my fault.” By contrast, he demonstrates some emotional growth on the outro “I Guess It’s Fuck Me,” admitting to his hypocritical ways and begging his partner to come back. Despite the confident album title and energetic, braggadocious themes that dominate the tracklist, Drake ends the album on a regretful and desperate note. These slow, emotional tracks define the album, coming off as a mix of toxic masculinity and regret. It’s clear that when Drake puts effort into his songs, he can produce a decent output, and even though this album has various flaws, it genuinely sounds like 21 Savage was able to inspire him to have fun creating music once again.