Arts and Entertainment

Whose Loss

Issue 6, Volume 113

By Manlio Singh 

Drake and 21 Savage are no rookies in the rap game, both having deep discographies going back years. With their chemistry apparent on past songs such as “Sneakin” (2016) and the recent “Jimmy Cooks” (2022), the two collaborating on an album seems like a no-brainer. Expectations were high, with the batting average of Drake/21 Savage songs near perfect and playing to the strengths of each rapper. The newly released Her Loss follows Drake’s dance album Honestly Nevermind (2022), which received mixed reviews and was called generic by critics. However, this album is approached with a bit more fire and something to prove.

The opening track, “Rich Flex,” is perhaps the strongest one on the album. Drake sets the stage for 21 Savage, telling him to “Do your thing,” as 21 Savage delivers an unsurprisingly energetic verse. Drake then segues into a brief harmony before jumping back into an interpolation of T.I.’s “24” (2003) over hard-hitting drums. The track sees two seamless beat switches which remain prominent throughout the rest of the album. Though the song establishes a playful environment that allows both of them to shine, Drake takes up most of the track’s runtime.

Drake’s primary role is consistent throughout the rest of the album. He has four solo tracks compared to one from 21 Savage, and Drake also dominates in every song, contributing to most of the hooks. One prime example of this is on track seven, “Hours in Silence,” where 21 briefly steps into Drake’s lane, emulating him with soft crooning to create an engaging change of pace. This is followed by five minutes of Drake’s patented, starry-eyed singing as he muses about a distant lover with his typical corny lines like, “You were lost until me.” Most Drake cuts on the album drag on with the same boring content about his partners. One exception is “Middle of the Ocean,” in which Drake raps with intention, discussing his lavish lifestyle. The smooth O’Jays sample is a perfect opportunity for Drake to mention, “Robert Kraft sent the jet for us, that [EXPLETIVE] was patriotic.” Drake gives an update on his state of mind, rapping straight through without any hooks. Other tracks fail to do the same, with “BackOutsideBoyz” and the F1LTHY-produced “Jumbotron [EXPLETIVE] Poppin” sounding like Certified Lover Boy (2021) rejects. Drake fails to do anything interesting on these songs, slapping boring flows over generic production.

While the album is bloated, the duo does deliver some entertaining cuts. The album is at its best when 21 Savage and Drake work together on tracks. “On BS” has nocturnal production, with ear-grabbing melodies and inescapable 808s. 21 delivers a simple hook while the two trade lines and finish each other’s sentences. Drake’s rhythmic flow as the beat pulls back leads to a captivating conclusion. The song feels like they were both in the studio, not just Drake asking 21 for a feature. “Broke Boys” also features the back-and-forth, as Drake assists 21 with adlibs behind his consistent delivery and dark production. 21’s clever line, “Halloween come and he want to dress up / But he don’t need no costume, I’m turnin’ him ghost,” makes it clear that he is not someone to mess with. The song pivots as the beat switches into the fast-paced piano that has Drake flowing effortlessly. Their subject matter throughout the album is more of the same as they rap about their bachelor lifestyles surrounded by women. On “[EXPLETIVE] & Millions,” Drake and 21 brag about their money and supermodel companions. The layered production, containing uplifting melodies, transitions cleanly into a perfect backdrop of loud horns for Travis Scott’s feature, and his autotune injects new energy into the track.

21 Savage raps about his usual content of checks, women, and violence throughout the album. Drake does the same, but generates some controversy with sneak disses at specific people and misogynistic jibes. On “Circo Loco,” Drake says, “Linking with the opps, [EXPLETIVE], I did that [EXPLETIVE] for J Prince.” Drake refers to the concert he did with Kanye West, whom he was previously beefing with. While they supposedly reconciled, he implies that there is still some tension between them. In the same song, he says, “That [EXPLETIVE] lie ’bout gettin’ shots, but she still a stallion,” throwing shade at Megan Thee Stallion, who Tory Lanez shot, and hints that he thinks she is lying. Even if it was not directed toward Megan, it is still a disrespectful line criticizing women who receive plastic surgery. Drake is at a stage in his career where he does not need to stir up hype like this, yet his content still contains these aspects. There is no nuance or evolution. He has been talking about the same thing for his last few albums, yet he is still one of the biggest rap stars in the world. There is no incentive for Drake to mature. If he wants, he can continue producing uninspired music for the rest of his career.

Taking everything into account, this album fails as a collaboration. Her Loss lacks cohesion and rarely brings either individual out of their comfort zone. It is a Drake album with 21 Savage features, where Drake fails at carrying the load. 21 and Drake should be creating something they could not do alone, but that is not the case on this album. Most songs lack any originality, bringing more of the same from the two artists. Her Loss has a few great songs, which is expected from a Drake album, but it does not come together as a whole. While Her Loss is better than more recent Drake projects like Certified Lover Boy and Honestly Nevermind, it pales in comparison to his best.