Well, yesterday both the track list and the featured artists of Drake’s upcoming Take Care album leaked, but now Drake has released the Lil Wayne-featuring “The Motto” on his October’s Very Own blog, which was listed on neither leak, so who even knows. Pitchfork reports that “The Motto” might be the album’s closing track, though considering it sounds basically nothing at all like any other song leaked from the album so far—though in a mostly good way—we have to view said reports with a degree of skepticism.
When you think Drake in 2011, you generally think of his slow, meditative, super-emotional (“emo,” even) 40-produced ballads like “Marvin’s Room” and “Trust Issues.” It’s a distinctive sound, and for the most part, it works for Drake, but it was getting redundant and even starting to verge on self-parody at times. Which is probably why “The Motto” sounds so fresh and fun, even though there’s really not all that much to it—a simple 808-sounding beat of bass and handclaps, with Drake and Weezy rapping about the titular creed (“You only live once” is basically the extent of it). It’s just so incredibly off from what Drake has been doing lately, and it feels so comparatively light and unassuming that it’s a fantastic relief from all the heaviness of late.
Perhaps more importantly, it shows a side of Drake not only that we haven’t seen in a while, but which emphasizes some long-dormant skills of his. You wouldn’t know it from 2011 alone, but Drake is actually a pretty good Good Times rapper, and he comes strong over “The Motto,” rapping about how “Spanish girls love me like I’m on Aventura,” making plans to party with Luke Campbell in Miami, rhyming “blancpain” with “Biscayne”—even his chorus lyrics from Lil Wayne’s “She Will,” reappropriated by Drake for “The Motto,” sound like a much better time here than they originally did. And the beat, while minimal, has a kind of old-school energy to it, which the two rappers seem to feed off of. (Drake more than Weezy, whose verse is basically another phone-in, though he at least appears to be having fun referencing “Baby Got Back.”)
Here’s hoping that even if “The Motto” doesn’t make it to Take Care—and it probably would be a fairly jarring inclusion—then at least some of its spirit will.