Despite its flaws, Drake’s “Scorpion” is still one of 2018’s top albums

Six months ago, Drake released the most ambitious project of his career, “Scorpion,” a supersized double album meant to give fans the best of the rapper’s two personas—the hard, skillful emcee and the R&B crooner.

“Scorpion,” Drake’s fifth studio album, offers mostly excellent production from hip-hop heavyweights No I.D. (“Survival,” “Emotionless”), Boi-1da (“8 Out of 10,” “Mob Ties”), DJ Premier (“Sandra’s Rose”) and OVO’s own Noah “40” Shebib (“Peak,” “Final Fantasy”). Aside from the posthumous contributions of Michael Jackson (“Don’t Matter to Me”) and Static Major (“After Dark”), the album’s features are often uncredited—like Future on “Blue Tint,” Big Freedia on “Nice for What,” French Montana on “Elevate,” and City Girls on “In My Feelings.”

With its 90-minute runtime and 25-song tracklist, “Scorpion” feels bloated, unfocused, and at times, desperate. Here, Drake is up to his usual antics—flexing, slashing R&B singers and Instagram models, making broad assumptions about women, lamenting lost loves, and rapping cryptically about those who are out to get him—and once he reveals that he does, indeed, have a son on the album’s fourth track, he’s fresh out of new material.

On “Scorpion,” Drake delivers struggle bar (“I gotta breathe real deep when I catch an attitude, I got a whole ‘nother level that I can tap into”) after struggle bar (“Bills so big, I call ‘em Williams”) and even goes so far as to borrow the sound of his peers. This album is Drake at his worst—a man lacking in growth and self-awareness, and rapping on tracks like “I’m Upset,” “Summer Games” and “Don’t Matter to Me” that should have been throwaways.

But “Scorpion” is also Drake at his best—proving once and for all his ability to craft the perfect pop song and cementing his position as one of hip-hop’s elites. Ultimately, “Scorpion” is an album that’s only as good as the songs that comprise it, but despite all its negatives, I simply couldn’t stop listening to it.

Listen to “Scorpion” on Apple Music and Spotify.