At this point in his career, Drake needs a friend like 21 Savage.
It’s hard to call anything Drake does a flop, but he’s been testing those limits the past few years. Despite being one of the biggest names in modern music, his brand seems to resonate less and less with each shoddily-constructed and obnoxiously long album.
Yet Drake is also observant, and clearly noticed an interesting trend: his last two biggest hits were both songs that featured London-turned-Atlanta rapper 21 Savage — “Knife Talk” from 2021’s “Certified Lover Boy” and “Jimmy Cooks” from 2022’s “Honestly, Nevermind,” the latter of which topped the Billboard Hot 100.
It only made sense to push this experiment further.
“Her Loss,” the resulting collaborative album between the two rap superstars, isn’t a radical shift for either artist. Still, it delivers one of Drake’s most entertaining releases since 2015’s “What a Time to Be Alive” and gives 21 Savage a platform to drop off one charismatic performance after another.
That said, it very much feels like a Drake album that just happens to have a lot of features from 21 Savage rather than a true collaboration.
The opening track, “Rich Flex,” establishes the album’s vibe, giving the two an atmospheric trap beat to hype each other up over before transitioning into a more aggressive second half with a great Drake verse. It feels like a natural extension of their previous work together and kicks things off nicely.
Other songs on the album follow a similar formula. “Broke Boys” and “Pussy & Millions,” which features Travis Scott, both incorporate beat switches and keep the energy high throughout. “Major Distribution” also does this, though to a lesser and slightly redundant degree.
Perhaps the worst offender is “Hours In Silence.” The song starts fine enough with a playful Drake verse and surprisingly great singing from 21 Savage but derails into an R&B dirge that goes on for an interminable four-and-a-half minutes.
Much of “Her Loss” consists of straightforward bangers that wouldn’t sound out of place on a solo album from either artist.
“On BS,” “Privileged Rappers,” “Spin Bout U” and “More M’s” fall into this category, giving each rapper enough time to make their presence felt and play to their strengths. These cuts fit nicely next to previous songs the two have together like “Sneakin’” or “Mr. Right Now.”
“Circo Loco” stands out for its sample of Daft Punk’s dance classic “One More Time,” though that’s unfortunately the most interesting part about it. “Treacherous Twins” also catches the ear, mostly for its ridiculous hook.
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Drake has come off as goofy before, but hearing him croon “You my twin, you my treacherous lil’ twin” takes the cake.
The overwhelming presence of Drake is actually the biggest issue with “Her Loss.” Twitter account Hip Hop By The Numbers found that he takes up two-thirds of the album’s vocals, and as a result it’s easy to forget that 21 Savage is supposed to be an equal contributor.
Four of the album’s 16 songs are Drake-only affairs, and only serve to further call attention to this disparity. “BackOutsideBoyz” is enjoyable enough, and “Middle of the Ocean” is among his more bar-heavy tracks in recent memory, but they’re not enough to make up for the sheer mediocrity of “Jumbotron Shit Poppin” or the airy emptiness of closer “I Guess It’s Fuck Me.”
21 Savage does get his own solo cut with the penultimate “3AM on Glenwood,” and it’s nice to see him get a little more introspective on it, but it’s too short to leave a strong impression.
Ultimately, “Her Loss” is mostly a success as a reminder that Drake can still put together a solid album, but feels disappointing as a collaboration with 21 Savage.
Leaving your greatest asset on the bench for most of the runtime? That’s not her loss Drake, that’s yours.