Beyoncé — who invented the surprise album when her self-titled set dropped out of nowhere in 2013 — decided to spare us the endless anxiety by revealing on Thursday that her much-anticipated seventh studio album, “Renaissance,” would finally be released on July 29.
But mere hours later, Drake deigned to try and one-up Queen Bey by announcing that his own seventh studio LP, “Honestly, Nevermind,” would be dropping at midnight.
Just when it seemed as if it was all Harry Styles’ world, in one day, two of music’s biggest stars just made summer a lot hotter.
“Honestly, Nevermind” — and a wild video for the first single “Falling Back,” featuring a parade of women lining up to be his brides — arrives just nine months after Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy,” which, despite the success of “Way 2 Sexy” and “Girls Want Girls,” felt like somewhat of a disappointment by his standards. And this 14-track LP is a radical reset for the 35-year-old artist born Aubrey Drake Graham.
It’s a full-blown a-bop face from hip-hop to house. And it’s a vibe.
Drake has two-stepped into house territory before on hits such as “Passionfruit” and the Rihanna collaborations “Too Good” and, most memorably, “Take Care.” But “Honestly, Nevermind” — whose gothic album cover makes it look like it might be more heavy metal than house — is a trancey, trippy twirl into the club underground that is more “After Hours” than The Weeknd’s 2020 blockbuster.
No doubt, this album is not about the hit singles that Drizzy has been consistently dropping on us since 2009’s “Best I Ever Had.” It’s about busting a move — and a mood.
Helping Drake take it all the way to the dance floor is South African DJ/producer Black Coffee, whose 2021 LP “Subconsciously” won a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album in April. But it’s the spirit of the groundbreaking designer Virgil Abloh — Drake’s good friend and a house head, who passed away last November — that you can hear pumping through these beats.
In fact, “Honestly, Nevermind” is dedicated to Abloh. And Drake not only gives the former artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear a shout-out on the Afro-house jam “Sticky,” but he samples his voice too.
“Sticky” and the hypnotic “Calling My Name” also find Drake getting way too sexy. “Your p—y is calling my name,” he sings on the latter.
But in the end, Drake is more like a “Certified Lovelorn Boy” on the heartbreak house of tracks such as “Down Hill,” “Texts Go Green” and “Liability,” on which he uses a vocoder to deepen his voice.
And while Drake is more of a creamy-voiced crooner than a rapper on “Honestly, Nevermind,” he ends the album with its most hip-hop track in “Jimmy Cooks” — a nod to his old “Degrassi: The Next Generation” character Jimmy Brooks — as he spits, “Gotta throw a party for my Day Ones.”