Few contemporary rappers are the source of such contention as Drake—too soft for some, too boorish for others, immensely successful all the same. While April’s Views was his least well-received album, it has continuously spawned smash singles, and the fact that he was named Spotify’s most played artist of 2016 by a country mile suggests that he’s at least doing something right.
A new video by Nerdwriter1 digs into “Feel No Ways,” a lesser-known track from the record, and makes a solid case for the level of sophistication of Drake’s compositions. It will either delight or enrage you, depending on which of the above sects you belong to.
In addition to picking apart the track’s lyrical themes and chord progressions, the video zeroes in on producer Jordan Ullman’s use of the Yamaha DX7, a keyboard that dominated pop music for most of the 1980s. By laying chords from the DX7 over a beat pulled from Malcolm McLaren’s influential early hip-hop record D’Ya Like Scratchin, “Feel No Ways” finds a perfect synthesis of Drake’s appeal, standing astride R&B, rap, and pop effortlessly and simultaneously. While the track unabashedly looks to the past, Nerdwriter1 concludes, “It’s good to appreciate the moment we’re in while we’re in it—especially in those rare times when the most popular artist is also one of the best.”
Is this enough to sell anyone on Drake? Probably not, but that’ll just give him more stuff to be sad about on future records.