Drake, 21 Savage – Her Loss

An inconsistent piece fan service...

Drake and 21 Savage go back a long way. First linking up back in 2016 for ‘Sneakin’, Drake’s co-sign helped propel the Atlanta rapper to stardom. If we’re being cheeky, we’d say on paper it’s probably an ideal partnership: a rapper who wishes he was born in East London, and another who actually was born in Newham.

‘Her Loss’ comes during a curious period for both artists. 21 Savage enjoyed an incredible trajectory before legal issues intervened – it’s been four years since his last solo album, and two since his last project full stop. Drake, meanwhile, surprised fans with his house-leaning ‘Honestly, Nevermind’; a rare break from formula, it garnered a dogged group of supporters while alienating some of his more traditional fanbase.

This new album, then, is the perfect piece of fan service. It’s Aubrey on the mic, 21 Savage in full flow. The roll out – which pirated a Tiny Desk session and copied a Vogue cover – was pitch perfect, two artists subverting the expectations placed on them.

It’s a shame, then, that ‘Her Loss’ often feels entirely predictable. The foes that punctuate their bars are well-worn – less talented adversaries trying to gain clout; love interests who leech on their wealth and prestige – and while it’s nice to hear Drake unleashed, at times 21 Savage can feel like a passenger.

Drake, 21 Savage – Her Loss

The production is never less than top tier, although it could stand to wrestle with some variety. ‘Rich Flex’ is a bold opener, while the muscular ‘On BS’ is a brutal, unrelenting roller and an easy early highlight. ‘Privileged Rappers’ aims some pointed barbs at the rap landscape, and it’s already made waves on social media. You can’t help wonder if the timing is wrong, though, with the rap world mourning the loss of Takeoff only days ago. Too much negativity isn’t good for anyone, no matter how punchy the bars are.

Travis Scott joins the duo on ‘Pussy & Millions’, a track that cuts to the core of the project. “They say: mo money, mo problems – bring on the problems,” they say, before unleashing a tale of love complexity. Fame brings its own issues on ‘Broke Boys’, with less-established rappers placing their barbs into the duo. It’s a familiar theme on the record, but the hook – “I don’t get mad, I get even” – is one of the album’s more effective.

A weighty 16 tracker – this is a Drake project, after all – ‘Her Loss’ works best when it grapples with fan service in a serious manner. The melodic flow on ‘Jumbotron Shit Poppin’ is just straight fun, while the darkness of ‘3AM On Glenwood’ is one of the project’s more illuminating moments.

Closer ‘I Guess It’s Fuck Me’ seems to exemplify some of the album’s core issues: essentially a Drake solo moment, it doubles back on the rap thread, swapping braggadocio for introspection. It seems to sum up an inconsistent record that definitely entertains, while not quite knowing where it’s borders lie.

6/10

Words: Robin Murray

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