After months of speculation, delays and heart-shaped haircuts — and a surprisingly tight lid on the content — Drake’s new studio album, “Certified Lover Boy,” has finally arrived… an hour behind its expected release time, coming in at 1 a.m. ET instead of midnight. For an album he first promised would come out a year ago, what’s 60 extra minutes?
His guest list for the project includes Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Young Thug, Future, 21 Savage, Tems, Project Pat, Yebba, Giveon and Ty Dolla $ign.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney are credited as co-writers on the opening track, “Champagne Poetry,” for an interpolation of the Beatles’ “Michelle.” Likely more controversially, the legally and morally embattled R. Kelly gets a credit on “TSU,” which also listsJustin Timberlake and Timbaland as co-writers. Later on the album, “Way 2 Sexy” makes use of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” among many other interpolations on the album. “Papi’s Home” includes borrowings from Montell Jordan’s “Daddy’s Home.”
The track list wasn’t revealed until two hours before the album’s release, when it appeared in handwritten form on Drake’s Instagram account, and even then it didn’t include mention of the featured artists. However, Drake did end up teasing most of those in the 48 hours leading up to “CLB” being delivered, in an unusual billboard campaign — with something that was closer to Taylor Swift’s cloaked penchant for Easter eggs than Kanye West’s multiple public work-in-progress playbacks.
Starting on Wednesday, Drake’s fans in the social media world were discovering and sharing what was presumably a low-budget promo campaign that went highly viral: a series of billboards around the country (and in at least one case, overseas in Ethiopia) that offered subtle or strong hints of who the guests on the album would be, primarily based around putting said billboards up in those artists’ hometowns.
The track list:
1. Champagne Poetry
2. Papi’s Home
3. Girls Want Girls ft. Lil Baby
4. In the Bible ft. Lil Durk & Giveon
5. Love All ft. Jay-Z
6. Fair Trade ft. Travis Scott
7. Way 2 Sexy ft. Future & Young Thug
9. N 2 Deep ft. Future
10. Pipe Down
11. Yebba’s Heartbreak
12. No Friends in the Industry
13. Knife Talk ft. 21 Savage & Project Pat
14. 7am on Bridle Path
15. Race My Mind
16. Fountains ft. Tems
17. Get Along Better ft. Ty Dolla $ign
18. You Only Live Twice ft. Rick Ross & Lil Wayne
19. IMY2 ft. Kid Cudi
20. Fucking Fans
21. The Remorse
Drake’s return comes after his most extended hiatus between major studio albums yet. The rapper’s last full-length offering of entirely new music came with his 2018 album “Scorpion.” The other long-form projects that he released in the interim, “Care Package” and “Dark Lane Demo Tapes,” were both repurposed songs that had either been out for a while or had leaked.
There had been speculation that Drake and West might go head-to-head on the same release date, in an old-school hip-hop sales battle. However, West, at least, was not down for that. After it was reported that West had quietly scheduled his release for Labor Day weekend, Drake publicly revealed he was also coming out with his album that weekend. West then moved his release up to last Sunday, in a sneak attack, ensuring five days of distance between the two rivals.
Chirpings about the album began in April 2020 on the eve of Drake releasing “Dark Lane Demo Tapes.” In the Instagram caption for the project, Drake wrote at the end, “Also my 6th STUDIO ALBUM DROPPING SUMMER 2020!!! Lucky number 6.” It wouldn’t be until he released the album’s first single, “Laugh Now, Cry Later,” featuring Lil Durk, in August of last year that Drake would reveal the name of his forthcoming album. That song came with a lavished music video shot in Nike headquarters and upcoming Nike “Certified Lover Boy” merchandise. Despite a few raised eyebrows at the project’s unique title, the uncontainable hype of a new Drake album overcame most jeers as fans anxiously anticipated its arrival.
That anxiety would fester for two months as Drizzy did everything except talk about the album, including announcing that he would be launching a candle company, opening a new OVO flagship store in Japan, and appearing on several guest verses, including Yung Bleu’s “You’re Mine Still” remix. Then, on his birthday, October 24, the 6ix God promised that “Certified Lover Boy” would be dropping in January and delivered the announcement with a cinematic trailer that recreated some of his most iconic album covers, from his “Comeback Season” mixtape days to “Take Care” and “Nothing Was the Same,” among others.
However, Drake went radio-silent for another two months. He didn’t return with the album, but instead with a three-pack EP, “Scary Hours 2,” which included “What’s Next,” “Wants and Needs” featuring Lil Baby, and “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” featuring Rick Ross. The EP debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts, making Drake the first artist in history to ever debut three tracks simultaneously in the top three spots. Despite “Certified Lover Boy” being delayed for several months, guest appearances on fellow rap stars’ albums like Migos’ “Culture III,” Young Thug’s “Slime Language 2” and more held fans over until the fabled album finally arrived.
A month before “CLB” dropped, Drizzy took to his OVO Sound Radio imprint during an airing of new music from others within the camp to announce that the album had been ”fully cooked.” He also issued a warning — which many speculated being towards his archival Kanye West — that “’Certified Lover Boy’ is on the way, and that’s for anyone in the way,” as the Chicago rapper was preparing to drop his album, “Donda.” After Drake possibly issued another shot at Kanye on Trippie Redd’s song “Betrayal” and brought their beef to a boil, the “Certified Lover Boy” rollout truly began. First, he announced its (actual) September 3 release date on ESPN in the form of a hijacked broadcast. Then, that same week, billboards began popping up in Toronto of what many believed to be song lyrics from the album.