Drake & 21 Savage – Her Loss

RiYL: A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Travis Scott
Recommended tracks: “Rich Flex,” “Pussy & Millions,” “Middle of the Ocean,” “Circo Loco,” “3AM on Glenwood”

2022 is a crazy year for Drake, with him simultaneously releasing his worst project, Honestly, Nevermind, in the last few years along with his best album, Her Loss, in the last few years. This is a major stepping point in Drake’s veteran career, as fans didn’t expect too much since it’s not a standalone release and comes roughly four months after his ill-received performances all throughout Honestly, Nevermind. Her Loss is primarily a Drake album both thematically and in execution, advertised by fake Vogue Magazine Covers and a fake David Stern Interview.

“Rich Flex” is the best possible start the duo could have had, with crisp production, poised delivery, and an insane mid-track transition. The beginning starts off with the viral line “21, can you do somethin’ for me?” and 21 quickly interpolated the chorus of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.” Drake finishes off “Rich Flex” at the top of his game, cleverly rapping several  acronyms together in a witty and dominant manner. The duo quickly follow it up with hard-hitting deliveries on “Major Distribution,” the very next track, where Drake continues to flex with lyrics like “Bad Bunny numbers, it’s 500 million just for Aubrey.” This is just the type of confident, charismatic Drake fans have been craving for years. “BackOutsideBoyz” is a shot to all of Drake’s haters, both original and recently, that he’s back in his top form.

Drake has a couple of individually credited tracks on the project that are some of my favorites. “Circo Loco” has a “One More Time” sample that also has Drake singing the classic chorus that Daft Punk is known for. He’s vintage, coming fast and hard with an exuberant flow that we haven’t seen since If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. It’s unfortunate that he uses the track to unnecessarily send shots at Megan Thee Stallion for coming out after Tory Lanez allegedly shot her in the foot. This originally happened in July 2020, after leaving a pool party at Kylie Jenner’s house. Megan was originally hesitant to reveal the details, originally citing the injury as accidentally stepping through glass. Tory Lanez, a fellow Toronto native, is currently on trial, just weeks after the release.

“Middle of the Ocean” is my personal favorite, with six minutes of Drake on a relaxing, breezy beat where he vividly ruminates on some of his experiences with women. Drake gets more introspective on “I Guess It’s Fuck Me,” where he goes into detail about his own toxic behaviors and his strife to improve on them. Lyrics such as “I’m the first ever antisocial socialite / The pain that I seen in mother’s eyes in 2009 / Have me workin’ ‘til it’s 2049” and “Don’t go hiding again / Tired of asking where you been” highlight Drake’s struggle to maintain a work-life balance, especially with souring relationships and apprehension for women. It’s an excellent closing track, and encapsulates the major themes of Her Loss.

On most of the duo’s 11 tracks, 21 Savage does a great job of fitting the mold Drake has left here. However, this is where we see the main negative of the duo: they don’t fit. Each of these collaboration tracks are great and have some of the best bars on the project, but they fail to provide anything that each of them couldn’t do by themselves. The production switches to accompany Drake’s flows when Drake is on the mic, only to switch again on 21’s verses.

There are a few times where the pair interweave their unique styles, such as on the track “Broke Boys,” where Drake gloriously takes over 21’s famous ad libs. These ad libs are great and provide some humorous context, such as “Hoes screamin’ like I’m Justin Bieber, n****” in response to 21 spitting “I don’t chase bitches, I leave ‘em.” “3AM on Glenwood” is of a similar vein, since 21 experiments with the time/place tracks Drake has scattered through his discography. The track isn’t as masterfully executed as “Broke Boys,” but the Atlanta native’s attempt is so refreshing that it makes me excited for future 21 Savage projects. “On BS” is the next track, where the duo go back-to-back, expertly crafting the frustration that both Drake and 21 have with the women in their life.

Travis Scott delivers an amazing verse on “Pussy & Millions,” and the three of them deliver great verses that each highlight a different aspect of “the problem.” The problem is the fact that money brings about problems, such as finding true love. It’s central to the theme of Her Loss, with Drake and 21 being tied to the toxic clouds that their wealthy lifestyles have given them. The track transition brilliantly sets up the stage for the audacious trumpets that Travis uses to destroy the duo’s flow, instantly taking over the track.

Drake and 21 are an immensely commercially successful pair, with Her Loss becoming the 4th most streamed album of all time following its release. I’m happy for the performance Drake and 21 have given, but his lack of narrative focus and synergy compared to Drake and Future on 2015’s What A Time To Be Alive sets Her Loss back. Drake has the blueprint for collaboration down, but it feels like he doesn’t have the patience or attention to build the synergy with 21.

Her Loss is the perfect Drake album for fans of his rapping, feeling like he picked up right after the hard-hitting bars of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and is one of Drake’s most narrative-driven albums since More Life. I just wish that 21’s inclusion was more prevalent, especially since his lyricism and rhyming were as sharp as ever. If this album is indicative of anything, it’s that Drake still has a lot more time left at the precipice of the music world.

Drake & 21 Savage - Her Loss