Drake and 21 Savage’s “Her Loss” is a big loss
New Drake releases will always stir up discussion in the hip-hop world, no matter the quality of the music. However, his new record with 21 Savage receiving good feedback feels like public surprise, leaving people stunned that it wasn’t the complete flop Drake fans have been getting used to since 2018.
Her Loss had a rocky rollout phase that featured fake-out promotions and a delayed release date. Dropping a week later than anticipated by fans, the project made up for the wait with sixteen tracks of Drake, some 21 Savage, and even the return of Travis Scott for hip-hop fans to eat up on Nov. 4.
Canadian rapper Drake returned to the hip-hop scene after taking a detour into house music over the summer with the surprise release of Honestly, Nevermind. The album stirred up controversy about Drake’s decision to push his boundaries into a new genre, and the product itself left many fans unsatisfied, becoming a trend of sorts for his releases since 2018.
U.K. rapper 21 Savage is back after having not released a full length project since Savage Mode II, in 2020 with producer Metro Boomin. The tenured rapper has collaborated multiple times with Drake in the past, including on his most recent project with the track, “Mr. Right Now.”
Her Loss was met with much better fan reception than Drake’s previous project, but for an album promoted as a major collaboration between two superstars, it feels more like 21 is just along for the ride after the first few tracks of the album. Some fans set the bar high for this album, comparing it to Drake’s only other collaboration project in 2015, What A Time To Be Alive, which topped the charts and gave fans 11 classic tracks, songs like “Jumpman.” “Digital Dash,” “Big Rings,” “Diamonds Dancing,” and more that still hold up to this day.
“My album was payin’ her bills, I don’t even need a deluxe,” Drake raps on “Hours In Silence.” One of the major critiques of Drake’s latest 5-year stretch of releases has been that he doesn’t put his best foot forward when recording an album. But regardless of the quality he puts out, everybody is going to buy it, right? Maybe, as all of his projects since 2018 topping the charts despite many fans believing he’d lost his touch would suggest. However, while lack of effort seemed like something that was holding Drake back in recent years, that wasn’t what held this project back from its full potential.
Drake and 21 deliver a solid tracklist with a diverse and great selection of beats, dipping into 21’s aggressive style, as well as using melodic and somber production that Drake is more accustomed to. Drake is more consistent with his performances on this release, even taking a more aggressive approach on some tracks, unlike his recent work, to match 21’s style. However, he occasionally derails into cringeworthy writing and vocal inflections on songs like “Circo Loco” or the second half of “Rich Flex.”
Drake’s most notable takeaway on this album is that he’s appearing to have fun and is writing some of his best lines in years. 21 does what you’d expect from him based on previous work. Although there are several cuts on this project where he tries to tap into a more melodic side, this was something he didn’t excel at. At times, it feels like 21 had been invited onto the album more so than being Drake’s partner in crime.
This raises the question of whether or not this is a good “collaboration” project. Of the 16 songs on the album’s tracklist, there are five songs that don’t feature the two artists together. There are several other tracks such as “Hours In Silence” or “Treacherous Twins,” where Drake dominates a majority of the song’s runtime. These songs are good, but they’re songs you’d expect from a solo project, not a collaboration.
Drake feels like the face of the album, unlike in his 2015 collaboration with Future, the previously mentioned What A Time To Be Alive, where the two stars felt like equals. When putting any two superstar artists on a project and giving them good production to rap over, they’ll provide solid music together, but not always like the chemistry Drake and Future had in What A Time To Be Alive.
It is this underlying issue that keeps this album from reaching its full potential. In 2015, Drake and Future rapped together as if they’d known each other since preschool. Her Loss kills the great chemistry it had in the first portion of the album for seemingly no reason. “On BS” is an excellent song where the two artists play off each other in a way that makes them feel like a dynamic duo.
When two artists collaborate, much substance is rarely expected in the writing. What’s expected is a tracklist showing how the two artists’ styles can play off each other to give their fans a unique blend of great music. For a majority of the first half of the album, it feels like this is executed very well, but the project loses focus in the second half and wastes what could’ve been a special record.
The overall quality of this album is good, despite its overwhelming levels of toxicity. Drake and 21 both give performances up to standard, with Drake exceeding expectations after his last few projects left fans disappointed. There are plenty of great trap cuts to take from this; many points on the album are catchy and fun, and the final product is well engineered with beats that you’ll be humming for weeks.
However, Her Loss plays it safe, not testing the creative boundaries of either artist after the first half. Neither play off each other nearly enough, which has proven sucessful in prior collaborations for both artists, as well as songs like “Rich Flex” and “On BS” from this project. The takeaway from this album is that it’s decent, but disappointing.
Too much of the album’s second half was eaten up by solo cuts, killing whatever momentum the first half was building between the two artists. While the solo cuts are decent, they’re not what fans come for in a collaboration project. When you have projects like What A Time To Be Alive and Savage Mode II that prove each artist’s capabilities on collaborations, what they delivered on Her Loss feels like a waste of a potential classic, only scratching the surface of what this duo has to offer. Feeling a five to a six out of ten on this project.