Honestly, we do mind
1 July 2022-
Not content with Certified Lover Boy blowing up the charts last year (burying Kanye's Donda in the process), Drake was back a few weeks ago with surprise new album Honestly, Nevermind, which we only heard about the day before... Nevermind.
We are very well aware that Beyoncé sitting on a horse has everyone going crazy these days. And we can already tell that it will be a societal kind of moment, simply because this is Beyoncé we’re talking about, we have been waiting for this since 2016… and because she is arguably the most gifted artist of her generation. The first single that transpired, “Break My Soul“, has a lot of people begging for more… Meanwhile, the biggest thing on the air right now is fellow superstar Drake, whose surprise seventh album Honestly, Nevermind came out of the blue a couple of weeks ago, only to immediately dominate all streaming services — then the charts a week later.
The comparison with Beyoncé is interesting here: both artists are showcasing a similar departure, away from the hip hop realm and towards electro instead. Dance in the case of Queen Bee, house in the case of Drake. What is particularly noteworthy is that this is happening as hip hop is effectively the single most dominating force in music right now. So, how come two of its brightest stars decide to mix it up and move towards another (major) musical trend? Is that a sign of the times, that these two pioneers are indicating to the rest of the world?
If you listen to the most recent (quality) rap and rnb releases, the integration of electro beats has been increasingly prevalent for a while. Including the aforementioned Kanye, Kendrick (whose latest album features obvious electro influences), not to mention the drill / trap genre as a whole, which very much bridges the gap between both schools of music making. So there you have it: once again, Drake — and Beyoncé — are paving the way for the next chapter in popular music.
Just listen to the album’s lead single, “Falling Back”, which follows in the effortless footsteps of its rnb predecessors with its impossibly infectious yet subdued beat. Some songs are more overtly house-infused, though: take “Massive” or “Texts Go Green”, for instance. But perhaps the more interesting ones are those that (successfully) mesh electro and trap. Cases in point: “Sticky”, “Flight’s Booked” or “Tie That Binds”. Album closer “Jimmy Cooks” (with a little help from 21 Savage, the only feature in the set) comes in many ways as the culmination of all this: a superbly placed sample (Brook Benton’s “You Were Gone”) that morphs into the second part of the song which could serve as a benchmark for this new electro rnb sound…
Sound of the future? Nah, the present!