Today marks five years since Drake dropped his fourth studio album, Views. At this point in his career, Drake had more than proven himself as a star with staying power, but with this album, he made it clear that we were witnessing a legend in the making.
With Views, Drake demonstrated mass appeal in ways he hadn’t before. The album’s two lead singles — “Hotline Bling” and “One Dance” (featuring Kyla & WizKid) — would become his biggest hits yet, with the latter becoming his first No. 1 hit as a lead artist. Views opened with over a million album-equivalent units moved in its first week, with over 850,000 units in pure sales. And as impressive as those numbers were, what’s most notable about that debut is that it dethroned Lemonade and was selling at a much quicker pace.
As with every Drake album, we get a whole lot of soap opera rap (e.g., “U With Me?”) juxtaposed with bravado (e.g., “Pop Style”), but unlike the rest, Views was particularly ready for consumption. So many of the album’s tracks slap on the first listen and maintain appeal even after fiftyleven hundred replays. I speak from experience.
As a vocalist (if we’re being generous), Drake shows even more improvement on Views. On tracks like “Feel No Ways” and “Too Good” (featuring Rihanna), he sounds like an actual singer as opposed to a rapper fucking around in the studio.
Another characteristic that is unique to Views is Drake’s dabbling — for lack of a better term — in West Indian and West African sounds, most notably on singles “One Dance,” “Controlla” and the aforementioned “Too Good.” Said dabbling has earned the rapper/singer accusations of cultural appropriation, especially in light of his part-time West Indian accent, which has even been the topic of thinkpieces.
In many ways, Views marked Drake’s graduation from superstar to icon. The scale of everything he has done post-Views has been much larger, and he has gone on to break countless records in the years since. The critics weren’t so keen on the album, but I’d have you know that Michael Jackson’s Thriller also got mixed reviews. The fact of the matter is that Drake understood the assignment when he made Views, and five years later, the album is holding up like the classic it is.
Favorite track: “Too Good” (featuring Rihanna)
Today is Tammi Terrell’s birthday, so we must honor her with this week’s TBT selection.
“You’re All I Need to Get By” was released as the second single from You’re All I Need, Tammi’s second collaborative album with Marvin Gaye. Written and produced by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson — “Ashford &a Simpson” to the streetz — “You’re All I Need to Get By” is the epitome of soul and one of the most romantic songs ever written. From the haunting, gospel-like reprise to the groovy chorus, the song is a classic among classics.
“You’re All I Need to Get By” became Tammi Terrell’s fourth and final top 10 hit — all of which were duets with Marvin — on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 7. It would go on to become one of her signature hits and one of the most beloved duets of all time, evidenced by countless covers and samples, including Method Man’s “You’re All I Need” (featuring Mary J. Blige).
Tammi Terrell’s life was tragically cut short by a brain tumor a month shy of her 25th birthday. Her achievements and contributions to popular music would be substantial even for a 50-year career, but they are that much more impressive because of the short amount of time she was with us.
Join me in celebrating the life and legacy of Tammi Terrell.
April 23, 2021, marked the fifth anniversary of Beyoncé’s sixth studio album, Lemonade. After the juggernaut that was her self-titled fifth album, it was hard to imagine that Bey could top that effort. With this album, she did just that.
Much like Beyonce, Lemonade is a visual album, but for the sake of this retrospective, we will only be focusing on the music.
Lemonade is a part-breakup, part-makeup album with a dash of pro-blackness to boot. The album’s lead single, “Formation,” is basically Beyoncé’s version of “I’m Black, Y’all,” and led some to believe that this may be a political album. However, other than “Formation” and “Freedom” (featuring Kendrick Lamar), the album is largely apolitical.
The centerpiece of Lemonade is a troubled marriage — namely, Beyoncé’s marriage to Jay-Z. To understand why this notoriously private woman would make her marriage the subject of an album, I’d like to take you back to May 5, 2014, when Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, stole on Jay-Z in an elevator as all three left the Met Gala. Till today, no one knows why that happened, but most of the rumors suggest that it had to do with Jay-Z’s involvement with another woman. There had been rumors about his infidelity for years, and with this incident, many felt like they finally had confirmation. The picture perfect Knowles-Carter image finally had an indelible blemish.
Almost seven years later, Beyoncé is yet to address that incident explicitly, but with Lemonade, we get a bit of a window into her marriage and perhaps some clues as to why her sister went upside her husband’s head. On the opening track, “Pray You Catch Me,” a suspicious Bey sings about her man’s dishonesty. And on the following track, “Hold Up,” she lets him know that no one loves him like she does.
On the first two tracks, we already get a sense of the sonic range of Lemonade. “Pray You Catch Me” is a piano-driven ballad while “Hold Up” offers a reggae-ish tune that samples Andy Williams and interpolates a Soulja Boy hook.
If there was any doubt that Beyoncé was a woman scorned, she clears that up on tracks 3 and 4.
“Don’t Hurt Yourself” (featuring Jack White) — a whole rock song with a Led Zeppelin sample — is opened with Bey asking who the fuck he thinks she is, and closes with her saying that he gets one last time to fuck up. The track is the furthest Bey has ever strayed from her artistic turf, and would go on to earn her a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Performance.
On “Sorry,” Bey instructs people dealing with unfaithful men to throw middle fingers up and tell ’em “boy, bye!” The track is a return to territory, but still feels fresh and unlike anything we’ve ever heard from Bey. The song is one of the album’s best, and somehow, there is an even better version of it on the digital version of Lemonade. Labeled as the original demo, this version is slower and is centered around the lyrics that make up the outro of the finished version.
The album takes an intermission from the breakup theme with the Weeknd-assisted “6 Inch” and her ode to Mathew Knowles, “Daddy Lessons,” which finds Bey going full country. Even though the latter is primarily about her dad, Bey makes reference to her troubled marriage when Bey sings that her father said “he’s playing you.”
On “Love Drought” — another one of the album’s best — and “Sandcastles — one of the album’s worst — Bey is back to singing about her unfaithful husband. This time, however, she’s a lot less aggressive and seems to be opening the door for a possible reconciliation. On the 79-second-long “Forward” (featuring James Blake), the album takes a clear turn towards making up, which is actualized on “All Night” — arguably the album’s best song.
Sonically speaking, Lemonade runs the full gamut of popular music without feeling too forced or unfocused. The album would go on to become one of 2016’s best sellers and was widely regarded as an instant classic. As we await its follow-up — because The Gift wasn’t really a Beyoncé album — Lemonade serves as a reminder that it is never impossible for the Queen to outdo herself.
Favorite track: “All Night”
In March of 2003, Busta Rhymes released “I Know What You Want” as the second single from his sixth studio album, It Ain’t Safe No More….
Produced by Rick Rock, the song is a collabo with Mariah Carey and Flipmode Squad. The beat is as sick as they come, and all rappers involved came with their best bars. However, no one would dispute that the hook is what really sells the song. With perfect sing-along lyrics and a tuneful melody to boot, the chorus has a singing Busta Rhymes going back-and-forth flirtatiously with a breathy Mariah.
The music video stars actor Michael Jai White and video vixen Tae Heckard, who play a married couple. Heckard’s character seems to be falling for her bodyguard, played by Busta Rhymes, but nothing happens between them. By the video’s end, there is an apparent kidnap of Heckard’s character, but in the recently released sequel, we learn that that’s not quite what happened.
“I Know What You Want” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming one of Busta Rhymes’ biggest hits and tying with “What’s It Gonna Be” (featuring Janet Jackson) as his highest-charting song. Join me in revisiting this classic!
Vanede founder Nneka Obiekwe stopped by to discuss Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Deshaun Watson allegations, the spate of mass shootings and police brutality incidents, and other trending topics.
(Executive Producer’s Note:
1. There were sync issues, so it might seem like we’re talking over each other, but we weren’t. Send all hate mail to Anchor.
2. This episode was recorded on April 15, 2021, five days before the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial was reached.)
Exactly 25 years ago, “Don’t Speak” was “released” as the third single from No Doubt’s third album, Tragic Kingdom. The word “released” is in quotes because a physical single was never issued, so by 1996 chart rules, the song was basically an album cut — music video notwithstanding.
“Don’t Speak” was co-written by lead singer Gwen Stefani and founding member Eric Stefani, Gwen’s older brother. Eric had split his time between No Doubt and working as an animator on The Simpsons, but eventually left to work in animation full-time at the end of the Tragic Kingdom sessions.
“Don’t Speak” is said to have been re-written multiple times, and was originally a love song with a quicker pace. The version we know and love came after Gwen rewrote most of the lyrics (and even some of the melody) to make it a much sadder, much slower, (and much better) breakup song. That modification was inspired by Gwen being dumped by bandmate Tony Kanal, who she had been with for seven years.
While it never cracked the Billboard Hot 100 (due to the previously mentioned technicality), it topped the Hot 100 Airplay chart for 16 weeks — a record at the time. The song would also be nominated for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 1998 Grammy Awards, more than two years after its parent album was released (and just under two years after it was made a single). In summary, the Recording Academy’s rules only matter when they want them to.
“Don’t Speak” is a true classic and yet another reminder that the charts don’t always tell the full story. It is also a fine example of autobiographical songwriting done right. Click play.
This week, Busta Rhymes dropped a video for his new single, “Where I Belong” (featuring Mariah Carey). The song was recorded many years ago, and its video was actually filmed this week in 2017. Both song and video were kept in the vault for years, most likely due to delays in the release of its parent album, Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God, which dropped last October — seven years after it was first announced.
“Where I Belong” is clear in its attempts to recreate the magic of Busta and Mimi’s 2003 collabo, “I Know What You Want,” employing a similar call-and-response hook and similarly breathy vocals from Mariah. Rick Rock, who produced “I Know What You Want,” is back on production duty (along with Navi Beats).
The “Where I Belong” video is a sequel 18 years in the making, with Michael Jai White and Tae Heckard reprising their roles — and the latter looking as if time stood still. Check it out below.
Gwen Stefani just dropped a visual for “Slow Clap,” and unlike the original audio we got a month ago, it features a verse from everyone’s favorite icy girl, Saweetie.
“Slow Clap” is melodious and catchy and everything we need as the weather starts to warm up. The song is an absolute return to form for Gwen, and by the time you watch the video and see all its “urban” accoutrements, it will definitely start to feel like 2005 again. As one fan put it, the queen of cultural appropriation is back.
“Slow Clap” is the second single from Gwen’s as-yet-untitled fifth studio album, which is slated for release later this year.
Doja tapped SZA for “Kiss Me More,” the lead single from her upcoming album, Planet Her.
Co-written by both artists along with Dr. Luke, tizhimself, Rogét Chahayed, Carter Lang and Yeti Beats, “Kiss Me More” is a nu-disco that will have you nodding on the first listen.
While the song is great, it is a bit surprising that two female artists chose to work with Dr. Luke, who has been in a seven-year legal battle with Kesha, who accused him of drugging and raping her. But I digress.
Watch the “Kiss Me More” video below.