Quite honestly, I have to admit Drake's on the upwards stride at the moment. Post the Pusha beef that turned his commercial viability and respect upside-down, and a huge chain of mediocrity in the form of Scorpion, a filler-prone project that doesn't even breach the 50 mark on my rating scale, he's been trying his best to revive his whole image, and that deserves some respect? I don't really know. Money In The Grave was quite the freestyle, and I was really into the groove of it at that period of time, when my music taste was even more amateurish, but it's still quite the banger. Popstar was a banger, Dark Lane Demo Tapes was pretty damn good, and Pain 1993/D4L were a breath of fresh air for Drake's dying career. However, this latest effort is slightly less descript than DLDT, and it plays the game extremely clinical. I'd honestly be disappointed to see any of these tracks on his full-length LP, as they are about as uninteresting as Drake songs can get in 2021. I do dig some of the minimalism, sort of reminiscing his old sound, but Drake doesn't have the same appeal he did when he dropped his Abel Tesfaye-co-helmed iconic pop-rap tape Take Care years ago.
But don't worry, the production isn't the only thing about rap music, and surprisingly, Drake has been making massive strides from his bitten drill flows and auto-crooning from a year ago into a more ferocious-sounding pattern of flow. This is a pleasant surprise to be dead honest, as Drake's rapping overpowers the instrumentals' underlying weaknesses. What's Next has a Supah Mario instrumental that goes absolutely nowhere, and even lacks the panache of his previous production work for more emotive and relevant trap artists like Lil Uzi Vert. Wants and Needs has extremely non-descript production that even lacks the hysterical "knock-off Carti" appeal of What's Next. This track too, features some of Drake's most solid rapping to date, but the instrumental and Lil Baby just don't do him justice. It's painfully evident that I've heard YouTube producers cook up more heat than the entirety of this EP, and that's a painful stat when you're an artist the caliber of Drake.
Lil Baby is a rapper I am extremely mixed on, and it's pretty obvious I find him extremely overrated. In fact, he might essentially be evidence of what exactly is wrong with the rap industry right now. He sounds like a Walmart Future or Young Thug, and his flow feels extremely stuffy at most points. Not to mention his production choice is absolutely barebones, so it's only natural he finds himself at home on the mediocrity Drake has served before him. While I enjoy every single time Baby gets in his bag, when he doesn't, he's an absolute mess vocally, and doesn't even rival the butter-smooth yet sane flows of Gunna. And that's just pure disappointment, given how much hype surrounds him yet I regret seeing him feature on every single track in existence. Thank god he stayed off Punisher and Sawayama last year, LMAO.
So Lil Baby arrives here, and I kinda wish to turn the song off due to how uninteresting he is on here. He sounds even more barebones flow wise than post-2015 Drake, and that's painful to tell you. But Drake kinda holds his own here, and I'm lowkey proud of him for attempting to stay afloat as a rapper in 2021, because he does a pretty good job at that. But I'm only filled with existential dread for the possibility that CLB is a filler borne mess full of tracks like these.
Then we come to Track 3, Lemon Pepper Freestyle. Odd nomenclature aside, this instrumental might be the album's finest by a long mile. Rick Ross is at his opulent best once again, but then again he's perpetually a trusty feature artist in the industry. And it's pretty self-explanatory for him to carry this track, however, Drake once again comes in with a solid set of bars to adorn the instrumental. He also flows, unlike typical modern Drake fashion, invoking memories of a time where he would rap his ass off. But who asked for a 6 and a half minute-long Drake song that isn't a Runaway or Sing About Me in nature? I'm confused with the length of this track, but even this track feels a little hollow to be single material, especially when put in comparison to Laugh Now Cry Later, a regal trap song that I really enjoyed around the time it dropped.
With both rappers trading blows to the sample-based instrumental, it draws a positive close to a mediocre EP, however, it's clear that there's some potential in this sound for Drake as an artist going forward. I just can't tell his intentions with this, and I hope to god that none of these make the final cut. Because if they do, boys, girls, and all other friends, we are in for a not-so-sweet ride of Drake riffing vocally over mediocre instrumentals for an hour. Scary Hours 2 offers no conceptuality, direction, or production quality, but it sort of carries the mantle of upward heading from Scorpion's mediocrity, yet still being only slightly above most of that LP, and inferior to a majority of DLDT. It isn't playlist fodder, but it only escapes that mark by a little area, which is alarming for people amped up for CLB being his comeback to form. Whatever, it's Drake, why was I expecting him to pull off a Yeezus. He's clearly not charismatic enough to do that.