If it’s ‘Her Loss,’ then Drake and 21 Savage finish with a draw
Rappers Drake and 21 Savage have a history of collaboration. Since the first time they worked together in 2016 on the track “Sneakin,” the two artists have joined forces three more times. That is, until their new joint album “Her Loss” was released.
21 Savage has been on a constant upward trajectory with each project being better than the last. His 2020 album with producer Metro Boomin, “Savage Mode II,” was his strongest to date. After a streak of lackluster projects, Drake’s last album, “Honestly, Nevermind,” was an abrupt departure from his usual wheelhouse. Casting hip-hop aside in favor of moody R&B-infused house, Drake created a late-career highlight in his discography. With 21 Savage appearing on the closing track, this release, “Her Loss,” feels like a natural progression.
In the past, Drake and 21 Savage have worked well together on individual tracks, but how would they fare on a full-length collaborative effort? The answer: okay. Up to this point, the ominous beats the two artists tended to hop on complimented 21 Savage’s menacing persona while giving Drake a chance to exercise his more aggressive side. For an entire album with diversity in the track list, the two artists simply lack proper chemistry. Take Drake’s prior 2015 collaboration with Future, “What a Time to Be Alive.” The two rappers complimented each other’s respective styles perfectly. On “Her Loss,” either 21 Savage or Drake tends to feel out of place on most tracks.
There are certainly highlights born from this joint endeavor, as the first leg of “Her Loss” starts out incredibly strong. Opening track “Rich Flex” incorporates Memphis-style production with multiple sudden transitions that both artists sound at home on. “Major Distribution” begins with an elegant R&B introduction before instantly switching to minimal trap. These shifts in style and mood add variety and flavor to songs that may otherwise drag out. Drake’s slower chorus on “Spin Bout U” contrasts excellently with tight verses from both him and 21 Savage, the former of which features some pro-choice bars.
The album’s momentum slows to a crawl on “Hours in Silence.” Though it boasts a rare sung verse from 21 Savage that he pulls off surprisingly well, Drake’s slow, stream-of-consciousness verses that follow drag out the track to a difficult seven minutes. On “Circo Loco,” Drake randomly and unnecessarily disses Megan Thee Stallion. Though the beat features a prominent sample of Daft Punk’s “One More Time,” the novelty wears off quickly, and I can’t help but feel as if a different rapper such as BabyTron would be a better fit.
“P–––– & Millions” provides a much-needed burst of energy that jumpstarts another strong run. Both Drake and 21 Savage slide on a glamorous instrumental before the beat switches and Travis Scott takes over with an excellent verse. “Broke Boys” and “Middle of the Ocean” feature some of the best wordplay of the entire album. “Two sticks in my hand like I’m playing the Wii,” “Might be the only teacher that gets paid enough” and “I’m like a cup holder the way these dimes stick to me” are just a few of the numerous hilarious lines delivered.
Unfortunately, “Her Loss” does not end as strongly as it starts. The hook on “More M’s” is an always-appreciated homage to Memphis rap group Three 6 Mafia, but both Drake and 21 Savage lack the proper energy to make the most out of the eerie Metro Boomin-produced beat. Furthermore, 21 Savage’s “3AM on Glenwood” and Drake’s “I Guess It’s F––– Me” are simply forgettable compared to many other songs on the album.
As “Her Loss” progresses, it increasingly feels less like a complete collaborative effort and more like a Drake album with a bunch of 21 Savage features; Drake handles the majority of verses and hooks and has four solo tracks compared to one from 21 Savage. Like most of Drake’s projects and mainstream trap albums in general, the track list could have certainly used some trimming. However, there are also numerous highlights that define “Her Loss” as a solid effort and Drake’s best rap project in five years.
‘Her Loss’ is disappointingly generic with mediocre production
At over an hour long, “Her Loss” by Drake and 21 Savage is one of the longest albums we’ve dissected for Split Record Review, and acts as a good example of why quantity does not always imply quality. This is Drake’s eighth and 21 Savage’s sixth studio LP in their respective careers, and it leaves something to be desired. 21 Savage’s releases have been relatively sparse in recent years, while Drake just released “Honestly, Nevermind” in June of this year; unsurprisingly, the experimental house-influenced sound of Drake’s last album didn’t stick around for long. “Her Loss” attempts to capture a classic trap sound but ends up sounding generic and arguably boring in the process. There are some solid moments, but from lackluster beats and mediocre vocals to questionable lyrics, this album misses several marks.
The first track, “Rich Flex,” starts with a generic instrumental, setting upbeat expectations for the rest of the album. After two verses that can’t seem to stray away from misogyny for more than a single bar at a time, the track has an extremely abrupt transition into a “calm” section that makes little sense in the middle. Following this, there is a beat switch into an equally lackluster second portion.
The next track, “Major Distribution,” has another abrupt beat transition towards the start which completely changes the mood from a more melancholic calm tune into a harder hitting trap song. The second beat in this track was solid, and Drake’s verse flowed well over it.
The next few tracks are forgettable and feel like filler in the middle of the album. The production on the record borders on lazy, and it doesn’t set up either rapper well to shine. Towards the middle of the LP, there is a bit more variation, with a few calmer tracks and a Memphis-inspired beat on “Hours In Silence” that works well with Drake’s vocals.
Disappointingly, “Circo Loco” samples Daft Punk’s “One More Time,” but has a generic sample flip that feels lazy and wastes any potential the track initially had. The next track features Travis Scott and has a reasonably good beat relative to most production on the album, but like other tracks, it lacks personality.
“Jumbotron S— Poppin” is one of the high points of the album. The beat was produced by F1lthy and is abnormally upbeat for the producer is best known for his work on Playboi Carti’s “Whole Lotta Red.” The beat has an interesting vocal flip and a beat that seemingly comes out of nowhere at the start, which the vocals fit well with.
The last two tracks take a much more serious perspective lyrically and reflect on some of the tougher experiences that the two rappers have gone through. They are somewhat refreshing as they feel more real and raw in an album that feels run-of-the-mill.
“Her Loss” is not without some decent moments; there are times where both rappers do well, but for every solid moment on the album, there are several that are disappointing. For such a well-renowned duo, there’s an expectation for something groundbreaking and memorable. Unfortunately, much of this album was forgettable as it brought nothing new to the table.
Time and time again, this relates back to the album’s lacking production. Had the production been stronger, there would’ve been greater opportunity for both rappers to shine in a way that leaves an imprint on its listeners. When taking a closer look at the lyrics, it’s disappointing to see that several songs default to toxic lyrics and overall lacks substance on many fronts. All in all, this album is nothing spectacular. Both rappers have released better in the past. All we can do is hope that this is an anomaly.