Review: ‘Honestly, Nevermind’

Surprise album dissects Drake’s persona and private self

Drake dropped dance album on June 17.
Graphic by Amna Rafiq
The critiques levelled against Drake’s Honestly, Nevermind are hardly unexpected. 
After being surprise-released on June 17, the album has been extensively slammed on social media. Although Drake’s dip into the dance world might have been met with H&M-related ridicule, Honestly, Nevermind is one of his more interesting albums in recent memory.
Drake’s turn into dance music is not unprecedented, as “Passionfruit” off 2017’s More Life wouldn’t be out of place in this lineup of songs. 
The album brings the melodic flourishes integral to Drake’s discography and sets them against ambient dance productions to incredibly intimate and sometimes haunting results. Although a genre divergence, Drake’s scathing witticism still teems within Honestly, Nevermind. 
The lo-fi beat on “Sticky” provides a minimalist backdrop for over-the-top brash you’d expect from a rap album. The drums on this track are hard-knocking yet simultaneously lowkey, never bubbling over Drake’s buoyant flow. 
This contrast between production and vocals is when the album is at its best. It allows the focus to remain on Drake, who is, as it should be, the star of the show.
The next track, “Massive,” is an expertly crafted, thumping club anthem. It’s a ready-made summer hit, with a brooding Drake desperately holding onto an extinguished muse over a booming big room house track. It’s playful and maybe a little self-indulgent, yet extremely well-executed. 
Through its twists and turns, Honestly, Nevermind is both self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating. The album is an intimate and personal listen that reveals the tension between Drake’s persona, his past, and his unwillingness to let go.
The album’s genre  allows the background to drub along while Drake grapples with lost relationships, distance, and loneliness. The songs are retrospective and surprisingly frank—there are no holds barred on this highly transparent project.
This album is one of paradoxes, both progressive and regressive. Drake moves along at a breakneck pace, but there is a feeling of inertia, an unwitting looking back, dwelling on the past. Although the album represents a clean break from his old stuff, Drake can’t seem to look ahead. 
There’s a self-aware sort of playfulness to Honestly, Nevermind—it feels like there’s a secret being withheld, something Drake knows that we don’t. This unknown is what helps separate the bombastic persona from the deeply introspective private self of Drake. The two inform each other—at times, at odds, at others working harmoniously. 
It’s no coincidence that the album’s closing tracks, “Liability” and “Jimmy Cooks,” are a return to more typical Drake offerings. They embody the past-obsessed Drake and the self-assured, untethered ego of Drake’s persona. The two exist in tandem, and ultimately, they’re impossible to fully separate no matter how hard Honestly, Nevermind tries to do so. 
Drake seems to be pulling away by concluding the album on a rap song with 21 Savage, the album’s first and only feature. It marks the end of a personal exploration. 
It’s as if Drake is finally going to reveal something, some profound truth of himself we’ve never seen before. Yet, as we get too close, he stops and tells us, “honestly, nevermind.”

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