In the "Track Meet" series, we break down albums or projects track by track to show where sports and hip-hop meet.
It has been five years since Drake released "Views," one of his more criticized projects, yet one that sold just as much as any of them and continues to live on in our pop culture lexicon. It's a quizzical blend of toxic masculinity, loneliness and triumph.
It was originally called "Views From the 6," a celebration of Drake's hometown. The title was changed last minute, but the tribute remained as "Weston Road Flows" was named after the street he grew up on and the cover art showed the rap titan dangling off Toronto's landmark CN Tower. Remember that little app that let you place dangling Drake onto your own picture? It's still live!
"Views" was a long time coming as it was originally announced in 2014, but in between that and its actual release, we got Drake's collaboration project with Future, "What a Time to be Alive," and his rap "mixtape," "If Youre Reading This Its Too Late." Oh and a whole beef with Meek Mill that spawned two diss tracks, one of which is the multi-platinum Hot 100 hit "Back to Back."
But it wasn't too late for "Views" as Drake officially started the rollout with the single "Summer Sixteen," an omen of how he was going to dominate the season. And at long last everything we know and hate to love about "Views" became a reality on April 29, 2016.
The album went platinum in a week (more about that later) and was everywhere as Drake indeed fueled summer sixteen with the Boi-1da goodness of "Controlla" and he finally, finally got his first ever No.1 song in the country with the Wizkid and Kyla-assisted "One Dance."
So get a Hennessy in your hand, kick back and enjoy the sports references and other highlights from Drake's "Views" album.
"Keep the Family Close" "Always saw you for what you could have been/Ever since you met me like when Chrysler made that one car that looked just like a Bentley"
"Views" opens on a blustery fall day in Toronto with "Keep the Family Close." Ok, so there's not a direct sports reference here, but you know we like cars, too, right? This line is the epitome of Drake, corny, thirsty, basic. Yet it's a pop culture reference that you can't help but connect to! Anybody who cares about cars knows how annoying it was that the Chrysler 300 did, in fact, look very similar to a Bentley Flying Spur. It was the big grill and the boxy body. But c'mon $30,000 to $196,000... no comparison.
"6 upside down that’s a 9 now"
"I wanna do major things/MJ in every way/I just don't fade away"
After the reflective intro, Drake prepares listeners for the hype with "9." It's got some braggadocious bars about how the OVO king has been putting in work. The song (with beat concocted by 40 and Boi-1da) was so infectious that Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators used the song to announce his number change from 6 to 9.
For a lil extra sauce, Drake compares himself to MJ, which could mean Michael Jackson or Michael Jordan. Since this is a sports blog, we are gonna go with the latter, especially considering his reference to a fade away, which is probably a nod to the basketball legend's jumpshot.
"U With Me?"
There's no clear sports reference on "U With Me?" but Drake samples DMX's "What these Bitches Want" and we want to pay tribute to Dark Man X.
And Drizzy flexes some serious vocal prowess at the end of this song. He's usually so chill and effortless and we get some real tension here as he expresses frustration with a love lost.
"Feel No Ways"
Again, no direct sports references here, but we'd like to point out that Drake rarely performs the breezy "Feel No Ways" and he did when he was the surprise headliner at Tyler The Creator's Camp Flog Gnaw in 2019. Tyler was so hyped because of the rarity of the special occasion. Then those entitled children booed the 6 god offstage. Selfish.
"Hype" is just a good motivational track about thriving despite the haters. The throbbing bass line, part of the production by Boi-1da and Nineteen85, provides a fierce backdrop for Drake declaring that he's "doneing" the hype. Done, done, done, done, done.
"Weston Road Flows"
"A lot of people just hit me up when my name is mentioned/Shoutout to KD we relate we get the same attention/ it’s raining money Oklahoma City Thunder"
"Been flowing stupid since Vince Carter was on some through the legs arm and a hoop shit"
Another breezy track, "Weston Road Flows," samples Mary J. Blige and is a reflection on just how far "First Take Drake" has come from his childhood days.
Drizzy has a legit friendship with Kevin Durant and the NBA superstar was hyped when he got his shoutout. KD's been on a handful of teams since "Views" came out, but in 2016, he was the hero of the Oklahoma City Thunder who marched to the Western Conference Finals. Nobody knew "My Next Chapter" was coming...
Champagne Papi also references Vince Carter's legendary performance in the 2000 Slam Dunk contest to give context for how long his own reign has been. The Raptors icon wowed a crowd that included Shaq, Isiah Thomas, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Aaron Gordon dunking on Tacko Fall had nothing on this man.
This is also the song where Drake announces he's retiring at the age of 35. He's currently 34 and will approach the magic number in October. We are awaiting the much-anticipated "Certified Lover Boy," but will that really be his last album?
Drake takes a break from the bravado with the buttery "With You" featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR and an uncredited assist from Jeremih, who is so underrated it's really terrible. Murda Beatz and Nineteen85 team up to provide the lush tropical soundscape.
After wooing his lady, Drake realizes how expensive she is, but decides she's worth it on "Faithful." The looming track opens with a bit of nostalgia in the form of a Pimp C verse. Then the rest is pretty typical basic Drake. But the hook is kinda catchy and a nice sentiment even if it makes you want to throw up in your mouth a little bit, "I know you been working, working, working, working, ain't ya?/You don't have no time to lay up/You just tryna be somebody/'Fore you say you need somebody/Get all your affairs in order/I won't have affairs, I'm yours, girl/Faithful, faithful, faithful, faithful."
"Hitting like that 30 on my jersey/Man, I’m gifted"
"Still Here" is another flex track and another basketball player that Drake has a very well-known friendship with is Stephen Curry, who the OVO boss compares himself to. There's family ties here as Ayesha Curry's cousin Mark is part of OVO. Back in 2016, Chef Curry was a leading member of the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. The team was making its run for back-to-back Finals appearances when "Views" dropped. He recently made history by draining 85 three-point shots, the most ever in a calendar month, with a whole week left in April. He's still here, dawg.
Ah, "Controlla." This was definitely one of the songs of the summer. It was actually released a month ahead of "Views" and helped build anticipation for the project. Drake enlisted Jamaican legend Popcaan for the track, which got criticism as the Canadian seemingly continued to appropriate popular sounds for himself. But people still vibed with the song, it reached No.6 on the Hot 100 and is now three-times platinum.
Yes, "Controlla" was popular, but "One Dance" was what skyrocketed Drake to that next level. It was officially his first No.1 song in the country after coming close so many times and being a featured artist on two of Rihanna's No.1 songs ("What's My Name" and "Work"). Nigerian superstar Wizkid lent his voice and his production alongside Nineteen85 with 40 holding it down for the home team. Kyla offers a breather from all the testosterone on the album with her airy vocals that truly transport the listener.
Not much to say here, but "Grammys" is worth pointing out as a continuation of Drake and Future's working relationship. Their collab project "What a Time to Be Alive" spawned hits like "Jumpman" and "Big Rings" and overall is more remarkable than this song, but hey, we'll take it. And hope that Future gets his credit by being invited to the Grammys one day...
"My city love me like a college running back"
"Child's Play" actually opens up with a skit joking about how if a girl goes to any season opener basketball game, she's there for more than just the game... but the sports reference we care about here is the fact that Drake claims he's as popular in his hometown as a college running back. We're not really sure how to unpack this because there's no college football in Toronto. But he's probably following the general sentiment that whenever a kid makes it out of his neighborhood on a football scholarship, he becomes the poster boy for success.
And can we just have a moment for Tyra Banks being the love interest in the "Child's Play" video? Iconic.
Like "Grammys," this is not the best collab between Drake and Rihanna. As we said earlier, they previously had two No.1 songs, with "Work" blowing up timelines just months before "Views" dropped. But "Too Good" is an interesting little chapter in the long narrative of Drake and RiRi's relationship. Were they lovers? Friends? Friends with benefits? Probably all of the above interchangeably.
"My wifey is a Spice like I’m David Beckham"
"You can throw curveballs but I got the glove fitted"
"Now me and Kobe doing shots the night before the game/Still drop 40 with liquor in my system"
"I'd share more of my story but you wouldn't believe it/It's far-fetched like I threw that shit a hundred meters"
The title track of "Views" is one of the more reflective songs on the project as Drake looks back on his journey as an artist and asserts his dominance by saying that his wife is as coveted as Victoria Beckham, the Spice Girl who married soccer legend David Beckham.
He continues by saying the haters can throw curveballs, but he's got a well-fitted catcher's mitt and he's ready to perform at the most elite level.
A line that holds more weight in 2020 is where Drake shouts out Kobe Bryant, saying he enjoyed partying with the Black Mamba. And was still able to perform at the highest level even if he had a little, or a lot, of shots, which contain 40% alcohol of course. Back in February of 2003, the Lakers legend tied Michael Jordan's streak of nine consecutive games with 40 points or more.
A final lil flex is that Drake has more to his story than he's even shared on this hour-plus long escapade. But the people wouldn't believe it, just like legendary quarterback Peyton Manning winning his second Super Bowl when the Denver Broncos took home the trophy that year.
Ah, "Hotline Bling," the most basic of basic Drake songs. But you have to admit, it's addictive. The track had already been out a year and was tacked onto "Views" as a bonus track. Having already amassed more than 400 million Spotify streams and because of a new RIAA rule that included streams in certifications, it bolstered "Views" to platinum status within one week.
Drake actually prophesied that he'd sell a million copies in a week all the way back in 2013 on his "Versace" remix.
And there actually is a sports tie to "Hotline Bling" as T-Mobile enlisted Drake to do a lil remix of the video for its 2016 Super Bowl commercial. It was a pretty clever play on how a girl is supposed to call her man on her cell phone if it has so many restrictions? Especially if her man is traveling the world being Drake.