From the star-studded video to the New Orleans bounce influence, there are clues to the rapper's next moves in his most recent single.
The work Drake has put into his upcoming album has already taken a toll on him, as he joked in a recent Instagram post. "You can see the album hours under my eyes he wrote." With the release of "Nice For What," his brand new New Orleans bounce-inspired single, we can now see just what went into those dark circles. The track, which samples Lauryn Hill's ex-factor and features guest vocals from bounce legend Big Freedia, also comes complete with a video filled with influential women. Tiffany Haddish, Issa Rae, Olivia Wilde, Zoe Saldana, and more are found in the clip, which is directed by newcomer Karena Evans. It follows releases like "Diplomatic Immunity," "Look Alive," and "God's Plan," as something of a warm-up single for the impending as-of-yet-untitled album. While it's likely not all of the aforementioned songs will appear on the LP, "Nice For What" seems like a good place to start when predicting exactly what we might see and hear from the OVO rapper once the project does arrive. Watch the video below and read our thoughts on what this song in particular might tell us about Drake's fifth studio album.
Karena Evans is guiding the visual component of the album
The 22-year-old director's star-studded video for "Nice For What," is her second video for Drake, following the hugely successful "God's Plan." Based in Toronto, she studied under Director X, the city's most influential music video director behind Drake's "Hotline Bling" and "Started From The Bottom," not to mention some of the most recognizable rap and R&B videos of the 00s. Evans is new to directing videos for artists of such magnitude, but with "Nice For What," she's demonstrated her unique eye through gorgeous shots and themes. As a young black woman from Toronto, she seems like a perfect creative perspective to fill out the visual component of Drake's music. While she's already defined the look and feel of Drake's new era, it won't be surprising if she continues to consult on further video elements related to the upcoming album.
Drake's videos are getting bigger and better
There was a time where Drake was the furthest thing from a video artist. In fact, it wasn't until around Nothing Was The Same where he began to find his footing in the visual department. With the release of "Nice For What," it's now clear that Drake has mastered the art of the event video. Like "God's Plan," "Nice For What" immediately turned heads and got people talking. With two conversation-starting videos released for the project, it seems that this may be a conscious direction rather than a one-off.
He's aiming to uplift with his new material
Drake's music has always largely been about... well, Drake. Part of the Toronto rapper's appeal is the insular, personal perspective of his songwriting, but on "Nice For What," as well as "God's Plan," he seems to be reaching outward in a new way. Drake is hardly the center of either of his new music videos, and on "Nice For What," he's able to step out of the frame as he celebrates the inspiring, hard-working women of the world. The tense paranoia of If You're Reading This It's Too Late has had a varying presence in the rapper's music since its release, but it seems that with his next project, Drake may be ready to let go of those industry misgivings and look at the bigger picture through a more optimistic lens.
Drake is trying out new styles, but making sure the pioneers get their credit
From the dancehall inflections on Views, to his nods to grime on More Life, Drake has been widening his sound by pulling from styles that were not necessarily represented in North American popular music. With "Nice For What," the rapper has embraced New Orleans bounce, and he decided to go directly to the source to make sure the scene gets its credit. Big Freedia, an artist responsible for popularizing bounce, can be heard in the opening moments, legitimizing Drake's use of genre's conventions. BlaqNmilD, a legendary bounce producer, also worked on the instrumental, sending the song on an authentic dance tangent halfway through. There have been times when Drake has been criticized (sometimes justifiably, other time's not as much) for not giving credit where it's due. Expect the rapper to cite his sources on the new album.
Murda Beatz has entered Drake's inner production circle
Murda Beatz, the Niagra producer who initially made waves through his collaborations with Migos, first worked with Drake on 2016 collaborations like "Back On Road," "No Shopping" and "with You." He showed up again on More Life with "Portland" and "No Long Talk." However, "Nice For What" is the first major solo single from Drake that Murda has been a part of, and it suggests that the fellow Ontario kid is now very much a part of Drake's small collection of trusted beatmakers that includes Boi-1da, Noah "40" Shebib, and Nineteen85. Expect to hear a lot of "Murda on the beat so it's not nice" drops across the album.
Drake's music is as referential as ever
Apart from the bounce elements incorporated into the song, "Nice For What" continues Drake's tendencies to nod to other artists. The central sample comes from Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor," which, as one Twitter user pointed out, puts in a lineage that stretches back through the Wu-Tang Clan and Gladys Knight. Of course, that leads to a whole lot of credited songwriters. On top of that, he opens his verse with a reference to the Big Tymers' "Get Your Roll On," the Mannie Fresh and Birdman duo that is both an essential branch of the Cash Money family tree and an act that's taken influence from New Orleans bounce. Also mentioned by name is Fabo, the leader of D4L, a mid-00s group known for popularizing Atlanta snap, yet another dance-oriented movement from the south. The album should be filled with similar Easter eggs from throughout music history.
Expect Drake to run the charts this summer
"Nice For What" is already expected to make a top ten debut on the Billboard Hot 100 next week. There, it will join "Look Alive," Drake's Blocboy JB collaboration (currently at No. 5) and "God's Plan," which launched at No. 1, and has been holding the position for the past 11 weeks. Despite what anyone may have told you a few months back, fans were clearly ready for Drake to return with new music, and "Nice For What" proves that as long as he keeps up his current strategy, his songs will continue to perform well on the charts.