TORONTO — Drake often boasts about his chart successes and wallows in heartaches, but on his latest album “Scorpion,” the Toronto superstar has delivered a confessional the likes we’ve never heard from him before.
The rapper and singer unleashed an explosive 25-track album onto streaming music services on Friday which appeared to confirm that he secretly fathered his first child — putting to rest a rumour that’s been circulating on gossip websites.
“Scorpion” also offered some humbling observations on how social media is eating away at Drake’s own life and the people around him.
While it’s a digital-only release at this point, ”Scorpion” is being presented as a double-album that’s divided into two parts, one half rap songs and the other R&B tracks.
But what becomes especially clear on both sides is that the 31-year-old artist — who has often referred to himself as “the boy” — is swiftly being shepherded into manhood and the responsibilities that come with it.
“Scorpion,” which clocks in at nearly 90 minutes, features an array of guest appearances by marquee rappers like Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Future. It’s also packed with classic music samples from Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and Lauryn Hill.
Here’s are some of the most notable elements of the album:
HIS SON: Drake looks to be committing to fatherhood as he comes clean on speculation that he was keeping secret child away from the public spotlight. Those rumours picked up steam in May when a spat between Drake and fellow rapper Pusha-T escalated into the diss track “The Story of Adidon,” where the American rapper called out Drake for failing to take responsibility as a dad. Drake dodged the topic when it first emerged, but he addresses it numerous times throughout his album. On the song ”Emotionless” he says, “I wasn’t hiding my child from the world. I was hiding the world from my child.” Other songs that reference his son include ”8 Out of 10” and the closer “March 14,” where he directly addresses the boy (“I only met you one time, introduced you to Saint Nick.”) and confesses he’s “embarrassed” to tell his divorced parents he’s “a co-parent” too.
PAUL ANKA: Fans were baffled when it was confirmed the Ottawa-born crooner was in the studio with Drake earlier this year. It turns out the duo were putting a new spin on an unreleased Michael Jackson track Anka produced. “It Don’t Matter to Me” was reworked into Drake’s mid-tempo “Don’t Matter to Me,” a brokenhearted love song punctuated by Jackson’s unmistakable voice on the chorus.
SOCIAL MEDIA: The pressures of Instagram life might be wearing away at Drake’s patience these days. Even though he’s known for frequently updating his Instagram Story with slices of his lavish lifestyle, the rapper confesses on “Can’t Take a Joke” that nasty posts from anonymous strangers eat away at him (“My comment section killin’ me. I swear I get so passionate, y’all do not know the half of it.”). He revisits the soul-crushing side of social media on “Emotionless” when he recalls several women he knows who live through the lens of their phone cameras trying to “post pictures for people at home.”
CANADA: Surprisingly few mentions of Drake’s Toronto hometown turn up in the lyrics on “Scorpion,” if there are any, but he does slip in a quick reference to the whales at Niagara Falls amusement park Marineland. Other than that, his Canadian roots are mostly referenced through mentions of the United States. He talks about bringing his closest friends stateside when he works, and makes a cryptic reference on “Sandra’s Rose” to having “some real demons across the border fence.”
LIFE’S PURPOSE: Between the boasts about his rap skills and competitive nature, Drake pauses to consider what the pursuit of fame and fortune actually means in the bigger picture. The question rings most strongly on “Is There More,” which throws his corporate deals and an endless parade of women into focus to ask, “Am I missin’ somethin’ that’s more important to find? Like healin’ my soul, like family time?” He doesn’t reach a conclusion on the song, which assures Drake still has plenty of conflicts to explore on his next album.