Let me start by saying that I won’t be doing this very often because reviews are a bit of a heavy lift. They’re also very subjective, and I am of the opinion that there are no real experts when it comes to consuming works of art. I also kind of grew up hating music reviews because a lot of my favorite artists were always maligned by the critics at RollingStone and all the other major music publications. In many ways, that is where my playful but sorta serious disdain for hipsters was born.

That being said, Drake’s Scorpion is one of those albums I would describe as a cultural moment. One of the biggest artists in the industry — by far the most bankable rapper today — who happens to be on the losing end of a beef with a crusty middle-aged man is dropping an album that is supposed to answer a lot of burning questions. Did he really have a baby by a porn star? Is he coming back with that draco for that man with braids? Spoiler alert: Yes to the first question and no to the second.

While I would love to see Drake obliterate that other guy, this moment is so much bigger. Already eligible for platinum certification, the two-disc set has broken streaming records at Apple Music and Spotify, with the former Apple Music record being held by Drake himself. Of course, numbers aren’t always a true reflection of quality, but in this case, they very much are. Scorpion is a comprehensive body of work that deserves all the accolades.

Side A, made up of all rap tracks, gets off to a slow start with “Survival,” which talks about Drake’s adversaries over the years, including Meek Mill and Diddy (but no mention of Pusha T). The next track, “Nonstop,” didn’t move me at all on the first listen, but after a few more plays, it grows on you. The song includes a line about being light-skinned “but still a dark nigga,” which is presumably a response to Pusha’s digs at his blackness. I’m gonna admit that I don’t know what to make of that line, but users at Genius.com interpret it as Drake declaring that he has a dark persona despite his light skin. Anyway, moving along.

“Elevate” sounds like something off of the Take Care album and gives us the first appearance of R&B Drake. The song features what is sure to be one of the most popular Instagram captions this summer (and perhaps for years to come): “I wanna thank God for working way harder than Satan.” If nothing else, this album is an Instagram caption mine.

Three tracks in, nothing is jumping at me quite yet. Cue “Emotionless.”

Side A’s fourth track samples the MTV Unplugged version of Mariah Carey’s “Emotions,” with the opening vocals being looped throughout song. From a lyrical standpoint, this is a shining moment on the album, with Drake prophesying that he won’t be loved till he’s gone (a sad but likely truth) and pointing out that he has surpassed many of his predecessors, which has evoked a bit of envy among said predecessors. He also calls out the lameness of social media flexing and, for the first time on the album, talks about his love child, explaining that he wasn’t hiding his kid from the world, but that he was hiding the world from his kid. Good save, Aubrey.

The next two tracks are “God’s Plan” and “I’m Upset,” two of the album’s three lead singles. They’ve been out for a minute, so I don’t think a lengthy assessment is needed. “God’s Plan” is a bona fide jam and the biggest hit of the year so far, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and staying there for 11 weeks. “I’m Upset,” on the other hand, is just not it; also, the line “Can’t go fifty-fifty with no ho” did not age well at all.

“8 out of 10” is a certified chune that sounds like a throwback to pre-fame Drake (“Zone” comes to mind). The song, which includes another mention of his son, is about as close to a direct Pusha response as we get:

Kiss my son on the forehead then kiss your ass goodbye
As luck would have it, I’ve settled into my role as the good guy
I guess luck is on your side
I guess luck is on your side

This amounts to saying “you lucky they holding me back!” I wouldn’t have bothered with it, but it is what it is. Dope song either way.

Drake declares that he is sick of these niggas on “Mob Ties,” where he raps about putting a hit on his enemies. The lyrics to this song are boring by Drake standards, but the beat is decent. This assessment also applies to the next track, “Can’t Take a Joke”; in fact, the beats of both songs are very similar.

“Sandra’s Rose,” an obvious word play on the name of the messy Atlanta-based blogger, is an ode to his mother, also named Sandra. Lyrically speaking, the track is one of the stronger performances on the album and sounds very different from your typical Drake song — it almost sounds like something Jay-Z would make. Drake talks about his struggles leading up to fame and success, and how he pulled himself and his mother “out of a living hell.” In a hilarious and unexpected dig, Drake raps, “Like Charlamagne, I see the light and see the darkest patches,” which is a reference to the popular radio host (and Drake hater) who bleaches his skin (while routinely making fun of light-skinned people). Poor guy.

We go from a Hov-sounding song to a song that features the man himself; I can’t help but feel like this was intentional. “Talk Up” is flex central, with both rappers talking their respective shits about career success and material possessions. Jay-Z concludes his verse on a more serious note: “Y’all killed X and let Zimmerman live, streets is done.” The X in question is XXXTentacion, who was killed in his home state of Florida, where George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin six years ago and still walks free. I would never advocate for the murder of anyone (and I don’t think Hov is advocating for that either), but it really makes you wonder about the streets. Like wyd?

“Is There More” brings even more flexing from Drake, but this time, he is also introspecting, asking if there is more to life than money and fame. In one line, he says if you combine his peers sales numbers and multiplied by two, they’d still be less than what what he has sold, which is factual. Drake also admits that his moral compass breaks in the south, evidenced by his taste for Houston strippers. The song ends with Nai Palm from Hiatus Kaiyote singing a few lines from Aaliyah’s “More Than a Woman.”

We’re now on Side B, where Drake does more singing than rapping. It starts with “Peak,” which is the first song that I can unequivocally classify as trash. Sonically, it’s like “Marvin’s Room,” except the melody isn’t as good and the lyrics aren’t as clever. The opening line is “Treat you like princess / Rest in heaven, Diana”; I am very generous in my assessment of song lyrics, and I am here to tell you that that ain’t it.

“Summer Games” is somewhat of a step in the right direction. It’s as pop as we’ve probably ever heard from Drake, and I don’t use that classifier carelessly. It has a slight EDM quality that would remind you of David Guetta and Usher’s “Without You,” and the drums sound like the ones on “Too Good,” Drake’s collabo with Rihanna on Views.

“Jaded” is more “Marvin’s Room” redux. It’s boring, but vocally, it’s the first time Drake has ever sounded like an R&B singer as opposed to a rapper attempting to sing R&B. The song is about a minute too long.

The next song is “Nice for What,” which is arguably the best song on the album. The song debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for seven non-consecutive weeks. Three months later, the song still goes.

“Finesse” is another descendant of “Marvin’s Room,” just with a bit more of a beat. Its chorus is far superior to those of “Peak” and “Jaded,” and the song would probably be better appreciated if there weren’t at least two other songs in the same vein. If Drake is going to commit to singing, he is going to have to broaden his range in sound and subject matter.

“Ratchet Happy Birthday” doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of its title, but it is exactly what I mean when I ask for range. It’s unlike any of Drake’s sung tracks; the production sounds like something No I.D. or Kanye would make — it’s very Chicago. I’m not sure what to make of the random-ass “brrrrrrrr” in the chorus, but it’s a dope track and features PartyNextDoor on background vocals.

“That’s How You Feel” is another good one. The chorus is catchy as hell and features snippets of Nicki Minaj’s live performance of her remix to PTAF’s “Boss Ass Bitch.” The extra minute on “Jaded” should have been allocated to this song, which is only 2 minutes 38 seconds long.

“Blue Tint” is classic Drake and features an uncredited Future. Drake opens the track with “Look who I’m fucking again,” a line that is already very popular on social media. Unlike most of Side B, this song is all rap and I am sure I am not alone when I say I am thankful for it.

“In My Feelings” is exactly the kind of song title that earns Drake a lot of ridicule from all the wannabe-tough guys of the world. They’re just going to have to find a way to get over it because this song knocks. Drake is singing and rapping on this one, which features snippets from Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” and Magnolia Shorty’s “Smoking Gun.” The song switches to a Louisiana bounce beat towards the end.

“Don’t Matter To Me” features, ahem, Michael Jackson. The only issue is that MJ sounds like the rumored imposter on that Michael album released the year after the King died. I’ll admit that I was too distracted by the Michael feature to fully appreciate this song, but it is not terrible.

On “After Dark” (featuring Static Major & Ty Dolla $ign), Drake is on his Usher and Ginuwine shit. It sounds like an R&B song from the early 2000s and I am not in the least bit mad. Ty Dolla completely outsings Drake, but that is to be expected. This song — which kinda sounds like a 7 Aurelius production — is going to be the soundtrack to a lot of Netflix & Chills this summer.

“Final Fantasy,” as one might guess, is all about sex. In the first half, Drake is rapping on a beat that reminds me of Mario Winans’ “I Don’t Wanna Know.” In the second half, the song switches to one of those boring “Marvin’s Room”-esque songs I mention earlier in this review; it does have a quotable, though: “You’ve got options, but I’ve been chosen.” Look out for that one in Instagram captions this summer.

The album’s last song, “March 14,” is about — you guessed it — his son, Adonis. The date is supposedly when the paternity test was taken, but who really knows. We hear a rapping Drake express shame about the single father title, especially in light of always criticizing his parents for not maintaining one family unit. He mentions his mom always warning him about slipping up, which he did with his child’s mother, who — based on the lyrics — he slept with just one time and only met twice. He concludes the first half of the song by saying he and his son — also born in October — will talk more when he’s old enough to listen to his dad’s music. The second part of “March 14” ends the album on a poignant note:

No one to guide me, I’m all alone
No one to cry on
I need shelter from the rain
To ease the pain
I’m changing from boy to a man
No one to guide me, I’m all alone
No one to cry on
I need shelter from the rain
To ease the pain
I’m changing from boy to a man
I’m all alone
No one to cry on
I need shelter from the rain
To ease the pain
I’m changing from boy to a man

And it is this kind of sincerity and courage to be vulnerable that makes people love Drake so much. Scorpion isn’t perfect and definitely isn’t as good as Views, but it is a very strong showing from a rapper who is now almost a decade into his career (as a signed artist). I give it an 8 out of 10 — no pun intended.

Silk shirts, gold chains and machine guns. The “Narcos” video is an homage to Miami-drug-lord luxe life, complete with the naked coke lab workers. The song is not my favorite, but the Migos have the juice right now, so people will eat it up. The production sounds like what people are now calling “latin trap” and has a very similar feel to Cardi B’s “I Like It” — you could actually sing the “I Like It” chorus over the
“Narcos” beat and it fits perfectly. Watch the video — shot at Madonna’s Miami mansion without her knowledge — below.

In the Throwback Thursday post featuring Bobby Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes,” I mention white artists that get too much praise for making passable imitations of black art. Ed Sheeran, though classified as pop on his Wikipedia page, is very much one of those white artists in question.

In fact, Ed Sheeran doesn’t just imitate style and cadence, he swagger-jacks with impunity. His 2014 hit, “Thinking Out Loud,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a Grammy for Song of the Year,  is a flagrant rip-off of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” (written by Gaye and Ed Townsend). But before we go any further, please listen for yourself:

Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Get It On”

And not a single credit to Gaye or Townsend in sight. Where they do that at?

In 2016, Ed Sheeran — along with the co-writers and producer of the song — was sued by the family of Ed Townsend. In the time since that suit, the heirs of Townsend sold their stake in the publishing royalties (which is said to be a third) to Structured Asset Sales, a company that appears to specialize in royalties-based investments. After the sale, the company tried to be included as a plaintiff in the first suit, but was denied by the courts, so it is now filing a separate suit for $100 million. The Hollywood Reporter has all the messy details.

As it stands, Ed Sheeran still hasn’t been sued by the Gaye estate, which owns two-thirds of “Let’s Get It On” and was awarded over $5 million in a plagiarism suit against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams (for “Blurred Lines”). The estate will also receive 50% of that song’s future royalties.

Wanna know who else might have a solid case against Ed Sheeran? Tracy Chapman. For what song, you ask? Every song he has ever made because it all sounds like Tracy Chapman.

There are times when you’ll need someone, I will be by your side
I take my chances before they pass, pass me by
There is a light that shines special for you and me
You need to look at the other side, you’ll agree

When it comes to blue-eyed soul, Bobby Caldwell is that nigga. Over the years, I’ve become stingy with compliments for white people who make black music because — often times — they get too much praise for just making passable imitations of black art (see: Eminem, Adele and Amy Winehouse). That being said, I think it’s important to give credit to those who truly deserve, and Bobby Caldwell DESERVES.

“Open Your Eyes” is a beautifully written R&B song about a picky love interest who seems to be in search of a perfect love that doesn’t exist. Sung from the perspective of a suitor, the lyrics are hilariously pointed, asking the love interest, “How could you be so blind?” and telling her that she will “never find a love that’s right.”

Though an album cut from Caldwell’s sophomore set, Cat in the Hat (1980), its chorus is well-known due to being sampled in Common’s classic, “The Light.” John Legend also made a solid cover of the song on his 2013 album, Love in the Future.

If this is your first time hearing this track, the music gods are shining a light specially for you today. Darling, open your eyes.

When it comes to British stage names, I don’t think they come as obviously British as Steel Banglez. The DJ just dropped this number featuring MØ and Yxng Bane, which sounds like a cross between a Major Lazer production and something off Drake’s Views album. It’s not fantastic, but definitely worth a listen and very season-appropriate. Check it out.

The patriarch of the Jackson family has passed away at the age of 89, just a month shy of his 90th birthday. Joe Jackson had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was hospitalized in the final days of his life. He is reported to have been surrounded by family members at the time of his death.

Papa Joe is one of those public figures I’d describe as a revered villain. For years, Michael publicly spoke about how violent Joe was towards him and his siblings, painting an image of an unloving father who was only interested in grooming entertainers. This is all bad, but the selfish fan in me knows that we would not have the greatness that is Michael (nor Janet, for that matter) if Joe wasn’t demanding perfection from them since birth. I just wish he could’ve been less abusive or at least acknowledged the errs of his ways, which he never did.

Either way, Joe Jackson has given us more good than bad, and may his soul rest in peace.

Naughty by Nature is one of those rap groups that don’t seem to get the proper recognition they deserve, but I’m here to tell you that they made some of the greatest songs of all time. This includes “Feel Me Flow,” the lead single from their 1995 album, Poverty’s Paradise.

If you couldn’t already tell, I’m a sucker for a mid-tempo with a good melody and a danceable beat, so this song is exactly my idea of good music. Get into it.

The light is coming to get back everything the darkness stole. The chorus of the latest Minaj-Grande collabo is a word if I ever saw one, but unfortunately, I’m not sold on the actual music. It sounds like it could *possibly* grow on me, but after three listens, issa no for me, dawg. It sounds like a throwaway track from Nelly Furtado’s Loose album; percussion-heavy beat, talk-singing and things of that nature. The song was produced by Pharrell, but I’m sure Timbaland is somewhere wondering when he made this beat.

Also, the video is trash. Ariana should ask for a refund. Check it out below.

According to this song, Rita Ora enjoys making out with girls every now and then. I don’t want to describe the song as unimaginative, so I’ll just say that Katy Perry did it better. “Girls” features Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX, and the video looks like a Dove commercial. Check it out.

PS: Up until this year, I couldn’t tell Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX apart. They both have X in their names and make similar-sounding songs.

GoldLink seems to be on a roll. “I Can Feel It” is on the Uncle Drew soundtrack (that movie looks terrible btw) and features H.E.R.

The song samples Esther Rolle’s “I Can Feel Him Moving” and sounds like something Common would make. At just 2 minutes and 35 seconds, I wish the song was at least a minute longer, but I’ll take what I can get. Check it out below.