Is Drake's New Album About Rihanna? A Track-By-Track Analysis

Photo: Splash News.
Last night, Drake dropped Views, the most important record...well, a very good album that dropped after Beyoncé gave us Lemonade less than a week ago. (How mad do you guys think he was?)

And it was worth the wait. As a love letter to Drizzy’s hometown of Toronto, the album is rich in local references, and details how the city shaped Drake’s persona, his music, and who he’s become in the wake of monumental success. (So: it’s really, really great.)

But some of us can’t accept that. Some of us need to delve deeper into cultural contexts to use Aubrey’s carefully-written lyrics as a gateway into a world we have no real access to; a world we have no real business approaching. The world of Rihanna, our best friend.

Because while we know they’re not really together and we know they’re just friends and we’ve accepted that they’re total professionals, we still choose to dream of a reality in which Drake and Rihanna channel a Nora Ephron movie and find love in a hopeful place. Which is how we justified combing through each track on Views and trying to find Rihanna somewhere. Anywhere.

Our best friend.

“Keep The Family Close”

Stand-out lyric: “All of my ‘let’s just be friends’ are friends I don’t have anymore / Guess that’s why they say you need family for”

Is it about Rihanna? How dare you. Considering this is a song about complete and utter betrayal (or just making Drake mad — who can be sure), we know it takes Rihanna out of the mix. I mean, Rihanna’s on the album. She’s onstage dancing and performing with him. Drake and Rihanna are the type of best friends I believe in my heart Monica and Chandler started out as before confessing their undying love in that one Friends episode. Rihanna would never betray Drake because Rihanna is Queen and/or a god.

No, what this song points to is a friendship failure on par with the plot of a Shakespearean play. Someone has crossed Drizzy. Someone close. (Was it you?) And their choosing of a particular side (read: Meek Mill’s, probably) hurt our dear precious Aubrey who clearly has only a few female friends since he just admitted that things with his exes don’t necessarily end well.

Just "6ix God," if you’re listening, please don’t let this be about Nicki.

Seasonal effect: Wind and snow

Emotional effect: Feeling icy
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“9”

Stand-out lyric:
“I made a decision last night that I’d die for it / Just to show the city what it takes to be alive for it”

Is it about Rihanna? No and guys, I wish I knew. Here’s the thing: Views is Drizzy’s love letter to Toronto. This means that his current love interest is Ontario’s capital, and his dedication is on a Romeo + Juliet (so much Shakespeare) scale of passion. So here we learn that he wants to die for Toronto. He wants to keep people fed. He turned the 6 upside down so it’s a 9 now. Frankly, I hope to one day love anything as much as Drake loves his hometown. And I hope my wedding vows to whoever I end up marrying is as legit as this song.

Seasonal effect: Rain and wind

Emotional effect: Same
“U With Me?”

Stand-out lyric:
“Remember you was livin’ at the London for a month, service elevator up to the 4201 / We was still a secret, couldn’t come in through the front”

Is it about Rihanna? If this is about Rihanna, her verse on this record should just be like, “What the f*ck, man?” So, no. This is not about Rihanna.

But this is about someone. And Drake believes this woman doesn’t and/or didn’t appreciate what he’s done for her and hates when she shows up without texting. He also doesn’t want whomever this is to think she can walk around naked in his kitchen without running into his friends. Though, he's also known her since “the kid had waves.” Ugh. So behold! A song about a secret relationship that went super awry, especially with the sampling of DMX’s “What These Bitches Want?” (And Drake’s obvious saltiness.)

Spoiler alert: this song is about me.

Seasonal effect: Rain

Emotional effect: Didn’t bring an umbrella, so now everybody’s upset
“Feel No Ways”

Stand-out lyric:
“I tried with you / There’s more to life than sleeping in and getting high with you / I had to let us go to show myself what I could do”

Is it about Rihanna? Rihanna would not be Rihanna if she slept in and got high all the time, so we can eliminate her from the subject matter immediately.

But here, we see an evolving Aubrey. While “Hotline Bling” is about the audacity of an ex getting dressed up and going out with her friends after he moved away/they broke up, this echoes a similar sentiment (“I was only gone for the last few months / But you don’t have to wait on me”) in that Drizzy’s wrestling with his feelings, but knows it’s over. And while he’s still having a pout, he’s lamenting a little less. Or, at the very least, he’s not weeping over her choice in going out-wear.

Seasonal effect: None (sun?)

Emotional effect: I mean obviously at some point we will all scream-sing this song and apply it to our own lives.
“Hype”

Stand-out lyric:
“Chasing women a distraction / They want to be on TV next to me / You cannot be here next to me / Don’t you see Riri here next to me?”

Is it about Rihanna? We found Rihanna! There she is, next to Drake! Drake, a man who is rightfully bragging about her in a song intended to make his nemeses feel stupid and small. Which is how they should feel if Rihanna is not sitting next to them.

And then that’s it. There’s a lot happening on this track, but none of it heart-centric.

Seasonal effect: A lovely breeze

Emotional effect: Same
“Weston Road Flows”

Stand-out lyric:
“Told my Mom that I found a lady in the East”

Is it about Rihanna? Rihanna is nowhere here, friend. But Monique gets a shout-out, so let’s raise a glass to that. But this song isn’t reserved for romantic acknowledgement. Weston Road is where it all started for Drake, which explains why his lyrics this time around are so rooted in the past: he talks about changing friendships, acknowledges not being able to afford pizza once (same, dude), and how he plans to retire at 35. Honestly? It sounds kind of like a massive buzzkill, great cars, fame, and money aside.

Seasonal effect: Nadda

Emotional effect: Hello darkness my old friend
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“Redemption”

Stand-out lyric:
“Why do I settle for women that force me to pick up the pieces? / Why do I want an independent woman to feel like she needs me? / I lost my way”

Is it about Rihanna? She might be here, my sweet, sweet treasures. I mean, hi: Drake and Rihanna were once together, and it obviously didn’t work out, and girlfriend is the definition of an independent woman. So this gets a solid, “Oh boy — Drizzy fucked up, and this explains the Sad Drake™ memes.”

But this track is also bummer city in a general sense: dude takes up with someone, he tries and fails to navigate his thoughts and feelings in an authentic way, and he addresses his subject as if they’re having a chat. He asks for more time, he’s alluding to having tried his best, and then in the fourth verse, he stops addressing this particular person and admits he’s not in a position to deal with commitment as if doing a Zack Morris time-out and breaking the fourth wall. But this time, there’s no AC Slater to help pull him out of it.

Seasonal effect: Summer! (It sounded like summer in the city, okay?)

Emotional effect:
Literally the opposite
“With You” (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)

Stand-out lyric:
“Mixing vodka and emotions, tapping into your emotions / Dry cry ‘cause I’m hopeless”

Is it about Rihanna? If you think Rihanna’s going to stick around while Drake dry-cries, you’ve got another thing coming.

But I do love the lyric, “It’s about us right now, girl, where you going?” since almost every other Drake song revolves are him dictating hangout/dating/hookup terms. And whoever he and PARTYNEXTDOOR are referring to is living her own life, thanks.

Seasonal effect: None (sun?)

Emotional effect: Whatever the sun does!
“Faithful” (feat. Pimp C & dvsn)

Stand-out lyric:
“You hit me like, ‘I know you’re there with someone else’ / That pussy knows me better than I know myself”

Is it about Rihanna? Rihanna is not here, do not pass go and do not collect 200 Rihannas.

But Drake’s here! Drake and his lady-loves and his bad relationships and his good relationships and his sexy-time, and honestly Aubrey if you can read this, I just feel like maybe a night in wouldn’t be the worst option in the world. Especially since your lyric, “I won’t have affairs, girl” tells me and whoever-it-is-you’re-singing-about that you will indeed have affairs. Maybe think about hiking the PCT like Cheryl Strayed in Wild and finding yourself. Maybe it’s time to start anew in Oregon — or somewhere you can learn who Drake is inside.

Seasonal effect: A little wind, a little drizzle

Emotional effect: Emotionally hiking the PCT
“Still Here”

Stand-out lyric:
“Girls in my bed and they don’t trip off first impressions / Girls all in your bed and they just ask a hundred questions”

Is it about Rihanna? Rihanna’s out running a few errands, so she’s not here for this song about Drake’s dedication to the rap game and his reflections on how far he’s come. But he is very grateful, don’t get me wrong.

Seasonal effect: A gentle rustling through the trees

Emotional effect: Sure
“Controlla”

Stand-out lyric:
“But you can’t just diss and come tell me sorry / You can’t listen to me talk and go tell my story”

Is it about Rihanna? Oh I’m sorry, would Rihanna tell someone’s story? Absolutely not. Also, as previously mentioned, she’s on the album — and if she betrayed Drake by talking about him or spilling the beans, Views would just be the sound effects of Drizzy sobbing in the shower like Tobias in Arrested Development.

Anyway! This is about Drake’s relationship expectations versus the reality in which his girlfriends and/or love interests find themselves. The thing is, reading into his lyrics, we know he’s capable of love, but his idea of it has been warped by fame and reality he’s currently living. And with every song about a relationship that didn’t work or a woman who wronged him, I get even more psyched to listen to his music a few years down the road when he’s had time to grow up — or at least gotten even more perspective. Because dude is smart a hell.

Seasonal effect: None

Emotional effect: Ditto
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“One Dance” (feat. Wizkid & Kyla)

Stand-out lyric:
“You know you gotta stick by me / Soon as you see the text, reply me”

Is it about Rihanna? Guys, we know she isn’t here. This song’s been out for a couple of weeks and we all know it by heart, and we’ve all transcended the need to read into it, and we’ve found ourselves here instead: watching a clip of Sir Ian reading “One Dance” on BBC Radio 1 because Drake is Shakespeare and Sir Ian said so himself.

Seasonal effect: Zilch

Emotional effect: Can’t hear you, too busy dancing
“Grammys” (feat. Future)

Stand-out lyric:
“Lots of sides on the same side”

Is it about Rihanna? Rihanna cancelled her Grammys performance, if you recall, so she is absolutely not here in this song about them.

That said, here is an incredibly stressful song about Drake’s evolution as a musical gift from above. Also, it’s about how Future — Drake’s friend and oft-collaborator — has never won a Grammy. And that is as deep as I’m willing to wade into this song because we’re all in “Drake as a romantic lead” mode and there is none of that here.

Seasonal effect: Literally nothing

Emotional affect: You know what? Same.
“Child’s Play”

Stand-out lyric:
“Why you gotta fight with me at Cheesecake / You know I love to go there”

Is it about Rihanna? Rihanna would rather walk into the sea than go to The Cheesecake Factory.

But I wouldn’t. So here’s the thing: this song is loosely based on me. We went to the Cheesecake Factory one time, got into a bit of an argument over whether to order deep fried pickles or just stick to our main courses, and despite him taking me to the mall after (it was the Cheesecake Factory attached to the Galleria), we couldn’t come back from it. Although for the record, we never actually hooked up, so I don’t know what all these sexy lyrics are about.

Seasonal effect: None

Emotional effect: I don’t want to talk about it
“Pop Style”

Stand-out lyric:
“Girl let me rock, rock, rock, rock your body / Justin Timberlake and the I hit the highway”

Is it about Rihanna? What? Not even close. This is the lyrical equivalent of Drake running through the streets and yelling, “My friends! I love my friends! I work so hard!”

And like, fair! Go crazy, man!

Seasonal effect: Wow, they really just gave up on this didn’t they?

Emotional effect: Shrugging Emoji
“Too Good” (feat. Rihanna)

Stand-out lyric:
“I don’t know how to talk to you / I just know I found myself getting lost with you / Lately you just make me work too hard for you / Got me on flights overseas, and I still can’t get across to you”

Is it about Rihanna? She’s here. She is right here and she is singing and sharing and engaging in this song about a star-crossed couple who can’t even around each other because it’s all just too much. Is this real? Is this about their actual relationship? I mean, probably not, because Rihanna has said on several occasions that they’re only friends.

But I can/will dream. This song is about having high expectations, about coming to realizations, and about believing they’re each too good to each other which will inevitably lead to their demise. I mean, was this a conversation they’ve had? Is this why it didn’t work? Drizzy is citing years going by and not remembering how long they were together for, and he’s mentioning that Rihanna is seeing somebody else, and how he wants late night texts again. And Rihanna is also still emotionally invested, and man alive: this album was worth it for this song alone. Another piece to the Drake and Rihanna puzzle. This is truly my DaVinci Code.

Seasonal effect: Nope

Emotional effect: Who cares
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“Summer’s Over Interlude”

Stand-out lyric:
“Summer is over, simple and plain / Found me some fun that’s good for the pain / Already told you I don’t feel the same”

Is it about Rihanna? I don’t care because I am still processing the above-mentioned song and this track lasts less than two minutes.

But the instrumentals sound a bit like “Kiss It Better,” so there’s that.

Seasonal effect: The sound of summer leaving

Emotional effect: Still processing “Too Good”
“Fire & Desire”

Stand-out lyric:
“Talk about you like you’ll never leave his side / But I don’t really buy it”

Is it about Rihanna? Guys, she could be here. Remember how Aubrey just mentioned Rihanna seeing somebody else? Well let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about how “Fire & Desire” is about his devotion to a “real-ass woman” who’s with somebody else. And then, he goes so far to ask if he should get rid of the other women in his life, and how he’s dedicated and devoted to this particular person. Could you honestly imagine him singing this about anybody else? Do you even want to?

Can we please dedicate the third season of Serial to this?

Seasonal effect: My tears

Emotional effect: Your tears
“Views”

Stand-out lyric:
“The paranoia can start to turn to arrogance / Thoughts too deep to go work ‘em out with a therapist”

Is it about Rihanna? Rihanna had to leave because I was making her uncomfortable by reading too much into her life.

So instead, Drake’s given us this: a jam that covers everything from God complexes to the pressure that accompanies fame to Drizzy’s success-laden path to what it all means. Which would’ve been a fine not to end on had he not left us with . . .

Seasonal effect: SAD

Emotional effect: Sad
“Hotline Bling”

Stand-out lyric:
Really, guys?

Is it about — No. Stop this.

Seasonal effect: I’m not kidding.

Emotional effect: Get back to work.
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