A deep conversation about Drake’s Scorpion

Listen to episode 2 of our new podcast, FADER Explains.

July 13, 2018

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For the second episode of our new podcast FADER Explains, we broke down everything you need to know about Drake's Scorpion. To listen to the full episode you can listen on Apple Podcasts here or on SoundCloud below.

We talk about our favorite songs, including "In My Feelings," and what we wish "Ratchet Happy Birthday" was really about. Later in the episode, we're joined by comedian Jaboukie Young-White, from Netflix's Big Mouth and his incredible performance on The Tonight Show. We get his analysis of Drake's new project and what he thinks of the 6 God's duet with Michael Jackson.

Below, you can read a portion of our discussion about the king of Toronto. Make sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you like it, leave a review. Love ya.

Olivia: I think a fair place to start is, do we like this?

Myles: It's kind of a tough question.

Olivia: Right? It's hard.

Myles: I think we're recording this a couple days after it came out, and I'm at the point now where I am coming around to it, but I'm not in love with it.

Olivia: Yeah, it's definitely not my favorite Drake project by any means, but at first I was like, "What is this trash?" And now, I'm like, oh, like the high points are so high, and like the songs I like I really like. And then I just feel like there's like filler that I can just leave out and forget about, and that's fine, and I can just remember Scorpion as the sick songs that I really fuck with. Do you know what I mean?

Myles: Absolutely. That's a great point. A lot has been said about Drake being the first mega artist of iTunes on your phone kind of deal, and nobody does that better of him of just like ... oh, there's four songs in a row that I really like and that's fine.

Olivia: Myles, you know a lot about streaming. Why is this album so long?

Myles: This album is very long because longer albums tend to increase sales on streaming platforms because it's very easy to drum up ... not very easy, but it's easy to drum up a higher number of the streams, or album equivalent units with a longer album just because there's more songs to play. People leave albums running. And this album is in fact very long. It's 25 tracks.

Olivia: It's not only 25 tracks, it is 90 minutes. There are movies that are that long. Like, I ... the audacity is just insane.

Myles: I'm pretty sure Love Simon is 90 minutes.

Olivia: I do think that Drake has kind of nailed this streaming game down to his cute little ... I don't know if it's cute, but his editor's note on the Apple Music site that was just like all caps, like, "I don't fuck with Drake. Drake makes pop music. Drake makes music for girls. Drake always loses. Drake, blah, blah, blah. And everyone was tweeting and everyone was like, "Oh, he snapped." Like, he just knows how to commandeer a platform.

Myles: He's the king of meta commentary. But there are some psychotic figures, right? So the Apple Music, the day Scorpion dropped it was the biggest day in Apple Music history. Nine of the top 10 most streamed songs in a single day ever on the entire platform worldwide are from this album.

Olivia: That's an insane statistic.

Myles: Yeah, it's basically just like this is their mega smash biggest hit ever. And you know as much as people feel about it, which is kind of I feel like we're seeing a lot of negative reaction to the album, it's a monstrous hit. It's crazy, crazy big.

Olivia: And there's that weird thing where it was already platinum before it dropped, right?

Myles: Right.

Olivia: Because of God's Plan and Nice For What. And the way that they can't unit sales for singles before an album drops. This album could've totally flopped. No one could have listened to it and he'd already have another platinum record under his belt.

Myles: Absolutely, which is why I think a lot of people are a little peeved at the 25 track increasing streaming limit thing. It's like, you have two huge number one singles on your album before it comes out, so like let's take some scissors track those thing.

Olivia: Right, it's not like Drake is like struggling and needs people to leave the album on longer so that he racks up royalties or whatever. There's honestly no need for this album to be this long.

Myles: And it's not like he hasn't done long projects before. Even More Life is 22 tracks, a very long project.

Olivia: Yes, Views is super long. Views is like 20 tracks or something.

Myles: So he does move in this avenue. We would never probably see a seven track album from Drake, which-

Olivia: Despite how good it could be.

Myles: Yeah, it could be great. I think some of these songs are really good. Some of these songs are really bad and forgettable, and we'll get to those in two seconds, but I think there is a lot to celebrate on this album. I feel like people slowly will leave the hate behind and become used to it. Expectations lead to resentment — Rupaul said that — but I do think that this is part of this narrative.

Olivia: I also think Drake is really easy to hate. He makes it easy to hate him.

Myles: Absolutely.

Olivia: And he kind of like ... He's a Scorpio, so he feeds off that energy. Drake loves nothing more than — I don't know — than people hating him and then him going and then like flexing on the gram, or whatever, and I think he is playing a chess game, kind of. I don't know it that's giving him too much credit, but I think he knows what he's doing when he drops a 25 track album that people are gonna say like, "25 tracks is too long." That's the whole thing with the editor's note, is that he is very aware all the time of everything we're saying about him.

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Myles: This album is organized into two kind of sides. There's side A, which I think is kind of getting labeled as the like rappier side of things.

Olivia: But it doesn't really…

Myles: The boundaries are definitely blurred. But there's side A, which is kind of the forceful side, and there's side B, which is the more playful R&B side. And I think you and I both share the opinion that we are enjoying side B a lot more than side A.

Olivia: Yeah, I like side B the most. When we were just getting track titles based on literally nothing, I was like, I'm gonna like side A more. It just seemed like my kind of deal. And then I only listen to side B now pretty much. It's so good.

Myles: Yeah, I definitely find myself listening to side B a lot. I would say that when the track titles were first out I immediately knew I was ... As our social media said, "I knew I was a side B bitch." Let's talk about one of the songs that we really do like, it's “Summer Games,” which is on side B. It's track two on that side. And I think you had a brilliant note about it that I want you to share.

Olivia: So, imagine it's a couple months ago and 40 and No I.D. are going to the movies, and they're like, "God, stuff has sold out." They don't know what to see. And they're like, "I guess we'll see Love Simon." And they hear those pulsing Jack Antonoff chords and they're like, "This is it. This is the thing." And that's what “Summer Games” sounds like. It sounds like the low point in a teen movie, and it's so more mournful, and it's like, "Summer just started and we're already done." It's like my teenage heart is breaking for this moody Antonoff-core song.

Myles: As someone who paints with melodrama and nostalgia so much, it's actually surprising we haven't heard a song like this from Drake before.

Olivia: Right.

Myles: But it actually is one of the few songs on this album that I would say is a very new lane for him. And it's kind of exciting to hear him take something like that on.

Olivia: Yeah, I really like it. I also think it's one of the songs where I believe him, and I feel like whatever this brief stint of a relationship was actually did have some kind of effect on him. I kind of feel it in the way he's singing, or whatever. And I don't know. I love that track.

Myles: I do feel like there's a small amount of debt to be paid to Ramriddlz for his amazing summer breakup record from last year,

Olivia: "Bitch blocked my number."

Myles: They're both from Toronto. There could be some overlap there. Drake has jammed out to "Summer Bummer" before, for sure.

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“It’s a sad birthday moment.”

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Olivia: Okay, so next we should talk about another side B track that I think we both have some mixed feelings about. That might be the safe way to say it. Ratchet Happy Birthday.

Myles: Absolutely. I think this was one of the first songs when the track listing came out there was so many tweets like, "This man has made a song called “Ratchet Happy Birthday.”" Which is immediately enticing to me and immediately I know off putting for you.

Olivia: Yeah, I think the word, ratchet, really quickly got taken by white people as this weird coded way to say black. And so, every time I see it I get really tense. Even if it's a black person using it I'm like, it has this weird connotation now. I don't like it. But on the flip side I saw the track name and I was like, "Great, Drake made a song for that when it's my birthday I will shake my ass until it falls off." That is what I thought the song was gonna be and it is not that.

Myles: Yeah, it's a sad birthday moment.

Olivia: It is so sad.

Myles: If it was called “Sad Happy Birthday,” which is a bad title — sorry — or just “Sad Birthday,” I think that I would like the song a lot better. If you're gonna make a birthday song and you want it to be a birthday anthem you got to give us birthday.

Olivia: It's like a Taylor Swift song it reminds me of, “The Moment I Knew.” It's a really mournful, like sad song. “Sad birthday” is definitely a genre. Like, “It's My Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To”

Myles: But even that song is like...you can still shake your ass to it.

Olivia: Yeah, I just can't get on board with it. It's one of the ones where I'm always like, "Oh, I got to skip." I got to skip this one in order to get to the songs I do like, which include “After Dark.”

Myles: Oh, so good. You know there is a patron saint of this summer, Ty Dolla Sign, and he really does-

Olivia: God bless him.

Myles: He really does get his shine again. We've seen him on the Teyana Taylor project, and we've seen him on the Kanye album.

Olivia: He was all over the G.O.O.D. Music drops this year.

Myles: Rightfully so. He's an amazing singer. His voice just puts me in all the right things, all the right mindsets. You can't have a sad happy birthday if Ty Dolla Sign is at your party.

Olivia: Absolutely not. And I think Drake is very keen and knew if he's gonna make an R&B song like that, you have to have Ty Dolla Sign on that record. Ty Dolla Sign is one the best singers working in that lane right now.

Myles: He's a crooner.

Olivia: He's a real crooner. He's so good at what he does and he ... I don't know. I wish that ... because After Dark is very much a Ty Dolla Sign type song that happens to be on a Drake record. And I just wish that maybe some of the stuff had gone more in that direction. If Drake made a little bit an album that was more like Ty Dolla Sign I think I'd like it more. Give me like a Beach House 3.

Myles: Yeah, an album to break all the rules too, as we often say. I do think also Drake doesn't make a lot of music videos. When he does, they're big crazy productions. And I would like to see a small scale video for “After Dark.” I want to see him and Ty Dolla Sign throwing out roses. I want to see the full cheese machismo moment. If you're gonna be giving a shitty masculine energy level moment, give me the things I like about that. And a song I also wanted to talk about that I think is very weird is “Nonstop.” It's on side A. It's one of the more aggressive rappy tracks, but it's number one on iTunes, number one on Apple Music, Spotify. And it's the second song on the album which I think is a really weird thing.

Olivia: It's so weird. It's produced by Tay Keith, who produces a lot of BlocBoy JB’s stuff. And it's very intentionally sounds like a BlocBoy song. And I think one of the reasons it's getting streamed so much is not because it's people's favorite, but because it's so near the top of the track list and people are like, "I'm gonna check out this Scorpion thing." And then they like the first song is really short and then they're like whatever. And then they skip to “Nonstop” and then they listen to that. And then it's just a diminishing returns thing where you just drop off at song 11 or whatever and you're like, "I'm done." But everyone is listening to that second song.

Myles: I've always been kind of surprised at what is the kind of song that takes over the charts from big albums. I remember when Views came out, the song, “Nine,” which was track two also, was always at the top and it's crazy that as a collective human populace we skip the first track on every album together. And I feel like artists should think wisely about sequencing and streaming platforms and really kind of maybe keep some heat for the first track to bring people in or should everyone just put out a blank track for their first song to save themselves-

Olivia: Just like 30 seconds of silence.

Myles: Yeah, save themselves a week of work.

Olivia: Put your mom voicemail at the top of the record and then get into the heat.

Myles: That's a fabulous concept. I'm very into that.

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A deep conversation about Drake’s Scorpion