Scorpion Still Stings
A look at Drake’s last full album release, Scorpion
Continuing the look at Drake’s discography while we wait for Certified Lover Boy, I will be inspecting Scorpion. This massive, 25-song double album release has racked up an unimaginable amount of streams and is the last look we have at album mode Drake. It’s over three years later and I still find myself listening to this album daily. Since it is a double album, this breakdown will be a bit longer than normal — so, get ready for a long read!
The first half of the album includes 12 songs. Which, if this were released by itself as an album, I would still consider it a classic because it is just that good. It includes legendary song “God’s Plan”, one of the most streamed songs ever, and a key feature from Jay-Z. I find that the first half it is better than the latter half; however, the latter half contains a couple of the best songs on the entire album. That being said, let’s dive in.
One of the things Drake does best is reminding everyone, from the second the album starts, that he is the top dawg, the greatest in the rap game. Just like in Nothing Was The Same, the intro serves as a single verse reminder that he’s that guy. He immediately addresses the beef he had with Pusha-T in the summer of 2018, saying: “All of this disorder, no addressin’/ The crown is broken in pieces, but there’s more in my possession”. This is a subtle reminder that despite their beef, Drake still holds all the pieces to his success, no matter the personal matters that were put on blast with Pusha’s “Story of Adidon” — which will later be addressed in the album. Drake goes on to speak in an eerily calm, yet forceful delivery style explaining that the Mount Rushmore of Rap is just himself with four different expressions. The song is really a recap of the artist’s ability to survive through all sorts of trials and tribulations including ghost-writing allegations and scraps with other artists. Despite this, he continues to prevail even though he feels he doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for changing and shaping the game. To cap it off, the line that rings in your ear the most:
“This just the intro, let me not get ahead of myself”
The follow up track, “Non-Stop” produced by Tay Keith with heavy southern influence, is a flex track with several clever one liners and an emphasis on how he and his brand came together. Comparing himself to Lebron, Drake flexes his sneaker deal (usually reserved for athletes) that he got without breaking a sweat, being metaphorically ambidextrous (without weakness), his attachment to London, and his reverence for “the 6” (Toronto) in his quest in becoming the GOAT (23, see Lebron and MJ). According to Genius, the chorus of the song comes from Mack Daddy Ju’s “My Head is Spinnin’” which is heavily mixed and repetitive and intentionally interrupted with the key line “This a Rollie, not a stopwatch, shit don’t ever stop”. This is an obvious play on the song title and structure of the song. The latter half of the song is a flex of his wealth and branding ability in his collaborations. The song has a very consistent yet addicting delivery.
Sampling Mariah Carey, “Emotionless” is an almost story like song that goes in depth on how Drake regrets meeting his heroes. They are moving differently, even shady at times. In addition, they seem salty that Drake has surpassed them and broken their records on the roads they paved. He doesn’t know how to escape this perilous situation and questions if there even is a way out. They always say never meet your heroes, does that apply to superstars as well? In the second half of the song, it is a more personal and intimate subject matter that most can relate to. Life seems to being flying by with his career. With this, internet culture creates a false facade celebrating the mundane. With this, Drake’s son becomes a point of attention — a direct comment to Pusha T. As a result of internet culture, he felt it was best to “hide the world from his kid” rather than the other way around. Recently, Drake has had no shame in posting his son online for the whole world to see.
“God’s Plan”, the most popular song of disc one, is a more light-hearted song describing how his success was a part of God’s plan for him despite the bad things other wish upon him. As so, Drake has already been immortalized as a legend and when he dies, he will be even further immortalized. A noteworthy and viral meme verse is in the following: “She say, ‘Do you love me?’ I tell her, ‘Only partly / I only love my bed and my mama, I’m sorry’’ While the official lyrics say “my bed”, some have speculated that it is actually meant to be a hint at Drake’s son, whose middle name is Mahbed. This does make a tad more sense but either way, it works.
“Mob Ties” shows a more serious and even intimidating side of Drake. Claiming to have real life mob ties, he can have these ties knock anyone he needs to. He also repetitively says he’s “sick of these niggas”, perhaps a diss to other artist that formerly supported him and want to be friends again. This may be a call to Kanye West and Meek Mill as both have had beef with Drake. This song seems to be a warning to his opponents. With wealth and power like Drake has, it’s easy to assume that he does have the ties — but it would seem out of nature for him to call upon them, publicly, at least.
Following up with one of my favorite songs, “Sandra’s Rose”, Drake speaks on the woes of success and how he continues to be discredited for it. This song is very similar in theme to “God’s Plan” in that he believes to be chosen or destined for greatness. As so, he elevates himself above his enemies and competition. The song title comes from Sandra, his mother, and how she was a florist. The rose is a common symbol of love but can also mean purity, clarity, and balance. Applying these themes could mean Drake provided each of these things for his mother; especially, when he says the following, “Sandra knows I pulled out of a living hell”. Drake is very fond of his mother and has included her in several tracks through his discography. This song serves as more a you’re welcome than a thank you.
“I’m the chosen one, flowers never pick themselves”
The last song I will cover for disc on is “Is There More”. Now, the title alone holds several meanings. This song is the end of the first disc, signaling the approach of the second disc, begging the question, is there more? As I said in the beginning, it could’ve ended here and not only would it still have done numbers, we’d still consider it a classic. The song itself questions the point of the “rapper lifestyle” that is so prevalent in contemporary music. Drake knows he is respected beyond the music along with the talents of his crew but isn’t so sure about others outside his circle. Even so, it still begs the question, is there more than jus the tangible things — money, sex, and drugs. Is there something that his wealth and celebrity status disables him from seeing? It’s hard to tell from the outside, looking in.
Where the latter half of this album differs is the delivery. We see a more vocal, emotional, singing Drake in opposition to the rap-heavy disc one. Both of the first two songs are focused on relationships and how they began and ended prematurely. “Peak” refers to former relationships with heavy British influences and references (another nod to his love for the city of London) speaking on the hemorrhaged, former relationship. “Summer Games” is exactly what is sounds like. A relationship that began quickly (like a game) and burned out before the summer ended. These songs will set the tone for the rest of the album along with more samples that aid in the delivery of the message. It is almost reminiscent of his earliest album in composition.
Following with another one of my favorite songs, “Jaded” (which features Ty Dollar Sign), speaks on a relationship that has taken a toll both physically and emotionally on the artist. Maybe as a result of the aforementioned relationship in “Summer Games”, Drake quickly became jaded as a person by the quick turnaround. Dealing with this enough times will permanently alter the perception of relationships causing them to become stale, boring, and unenthusiastic. If his music is any indication, Drake is definitely tired of the jaded relationships.
The next song, “Nice For What”, was one of the party songs of the year when it was released. It samples Lauryn Hill on the track and, according to Genius, has a heavy bounce influence — a genre that originated in New Orleans. You could consider this a feministic song, as it gases up women and their party culture and exclaiming, “You really pipin’ up on these niggas / You gotta be nice for what to these niggas?” Female empowerment is usually met with misogynistic banter but this was a nice change from a huge artist to provide a song “for the girls”.
Next is a return to the rap heavy like in disc one, “Blue Tint” which features Future in the chorus. Again speaking on a relationship, this one is recurring and Drake is debating on whether or not to continue seeing this person. He feels as if it’s 50/50 and the thin ice the relationship is on could either sink or swim. Additionally, keeping with the ice cold theme, both artist boast blue diamonds and blue faces (authentic 100 dollar bills) flaunting their immense wealth. This song (along with the next) serves as a sort of break from the emotional notion that we heard earlier in the disc.
“In My Feelings” was huge when it released and has amassed over 116 million streams in the first week. The song is a bounce-style anthem that made waves due to the famous dance trends that came with the song and its heartfelt lyrics for current artists including The City Girls. This is one of the few party songs on the album, however it still hits as hard as it did when it came out. It also features a humorous sample from the hit show, “Atlanta” in an episode where the main characters went to a party at Drake’s house to secure a photo with the artist.
We slow it down again with the next song, “Don’t Matter To Me” which featured superstar Michael Jackson. Using previously unreleased and unheard lyrics from MJ (which were recorded in 1984), Drake and MJ sing about a relationship destined to fail and acknowledging it is inevitable that it ends. Drake says the women has suddenly started acting out and they even get into a brash argument that would’ve compromised both their reputations. Even with 25 year old lyrics, Drake somehow makes it happen and creates one of the best songs on the album.
With help from the sample at the end of “After Dark” — a romantic late night radio show snippet from 93.7 WBLK — Drake speaks on his sexual fantasies in an uncensored fashion in “Final Fantasy”. This is normally out of character for Drake, as he is most known for is love ballads which hardly mention the lewd actions he depicts in this song. Later in the song, there is a break with a snippet from the Maury show. This serves as further confirmation to the rumors that Drake has a son with Sophie Brussaux.
“March 14” is the tell all on his son and his thoughts on being a parent. Drake hates the idea of being a single parent that co-parents rather than being with a “Billie Jean”. Regardless, he’s recognized that he must deal with the notion that Adonis, his son, is his and has to step up as a father — otherwise, he would be just like his own father. He goes on to speak directly to his son and leaves him basically a letter that the older version would likely be interested in hearing to clarify his childhood.
Though I personally believe the second half of this album wouldn’t be a classic on it’s own like the previous half, altogether it definitely is a modern classic. It travels through a plethora of themes in a whirlwind fashion that include love, fatherhood, wealth, sex, and even a bit of emotional introspection. The last full album release from Drake was far from a disappointment and certainly excites me for the overdue release of Certified Lover Boy.