For Drake, redemption lies in his city and in his past, as well as in his brotherhood-above-everything approach to the good life. On the delightful “With You,” he and the singer PartyNextDoor take turns playfully begging their lovers to come back, though it seems as if they would rather hang out with each other. For the listener, redemption comes from Drake’s knack for producing motivational anthems. It’s humbling to think how many birthdays, graduations, and promotions have had his music as their soundtrack.
Drake understands how people live with music, how it helps us get through life, whether it’s a breakup, a court date, or an unusually long jog. One of his most endearing habits has always been the way he weaves other people’s music into his own. “I think I’d lie for you / I think I’d die for you / Jodeci ‘Cry for You,’ ” he sings, over deconstructed dancehall chirps, on “Controlla.” Elsewhere, he samples the vocals of a Mary J. Blige song from the nineties and a Ray J track from the aughts, as if the album were an index of the music that accompanies life’s heartbreaks.
Hua Hsu, “The Self-Conflict Zone”, The New Yorker (16 May 2016), 97.