While it was marketed as a "Started From The Bottom" remix, or at least what began as one, simply looking at the list of parties involved in "No New Friends" makes it instantly clear that its intended as a sequel to 2011's summer blockbuster "I'm On One". The only missing member is T-Minus, who has been replaced by the sonically similar, but infinitely more interesting Boi-1da, and of course, the Timbaland to Drizzy's Justin, Noah "40" Shebib. 1da and 40 make a pretty unstoppable production team, as 40 provides a tastefulness and attention to detail that the "Headlines" beatmaker sometimes lacks, and 1da is able to make his beats bang in a way Shebib could never replicate. The production is definitely on point, but like every other element of the track, it mirrors "I'm On One" a little too closely to produce the same thrills the original provided.
The beat drop in the hook comes exactly where you expect it to, right where melodic, instrospective Drizzy becomes slightly harder, rappier, expletive-wielding Drizzy. It's a formula that's worked for Drake on plenty of hooks, but after the slurry curveball of refrain he threw at us on "Started From The Bottom", this seems a little slight. The Toronto rapper continues to deliver on his verses however, easily besting the sleepwalking Ross and Wayne (though at this point, snoozing Wayne is a welcome replacement for faceplanting Wayne). The 16s seem to come and go rather fast as well (I counted them out and they are full 16s, maybe the BPM is quite a bit higher and they're rapping half-time?), and again the hook doesn't quite stick like you want it to.
The decision to gift "No New Friends" to Khaled was definitely the right choice. Drake is really on another level as far as creating legacies, and themes around his projects. He's one of the few rappers out there who will make the banger of the summer, and leave it off his album, because unlike most rappers, that summer banger is far from his best material. Leading up to the release of Take Care, Drake similarly released a slew of tracks that didn't make the final cut, and he stressed that the songs, were just another part of the story of his career. The way Drake releases music is more about creating a tangent in his art that reads as more organic than many of the scattered collections that rap albums can sometimes exist in (not that those can't be great as well). So maybe "No New Friends" isn't "I'm On One", maybe it isn't even "Money To Blow" (ok, maybe it is). What it is, is another step in the increasingly interesting artistic path of one of the best artists in the genre right now, and another installment in what is becoming a tradition of radio takeover singles that exist as stand alone entities rather than part of a project, and that's pretty damn cool.