Drakes Certified Lover Boy Arrives, With Guests Including Jay-Z, Travis Scott, Young Thug

After months of speculation, delays and heart-shaped haircuts — and a surprisingly tight lid on the content — Drake’s new studio album, “Certified Lover Boy,” has finally arrived… an hour behind its expected release time, coming in at 1 a.m. ET instead of midnight. For an album he first promised would come out a year ago, what’s 60 extra minutes?

The track list wasn’t revealed until two hours before the album’s release, when it appeared in handwritten form on Drake’s Instagram account, and even then it didn’t include mention of the featured artists. However, Drake did end up teasing most of those in the 48 hours leading up to “CLB” being delivered, in an unusual billboard campaign — with something that was closer to Taylor Swift’s cloaked penchant for Easter eggs than Kanye West’s multiple public work-in-progress playbacks.

Starting on Wednesday, Drake’s fans in the social media world were discovering and sharing what was presumably a low-budget promo campaign that went highly viral: a series of billboards around the country (and in at least one case, overseas in Ethiopia) that offered subtle or strong hints of who the guests on the album would be, primarily based around putting said billboards up in those artists’ hometowns. Young Thug, Future, 21 Savage, Lil Baby, Tems, Project Pat, Yebba, Giveon and Ty Dolla $ign were correctly guessed. Mention of a New York-based “GOAT” being on the album, and a “hometown hero” from Houston, via billboards in those cities, vexed fans a little more. Jay-Z and Travis Scott were revealed on the tracklist.

Drake’s return comes after his most extended hiatus between major studio albums yet. The rapper’s last full-length offering of entirely new music came with his 2018 album “Scorpion.” The other long-form projects that he released in the interim, “Care Package” and “Dark Lane Demo Tapes,” were both repurposed songs that had either been out for a while or had leaked.

There had been speculation that Drake and West might go head-to-head on the same release date, in an old-school hip-hop sales battle. However, West, at least, was not down for that. After it was reported that West had quietly scheduled his release for Labor Day weekend, Drake publicly revealed he was also coming out with his album that weekend. West then moved his release up to last Sunday, in a sneak attack, ensuring five days of distance between the two rivals.

Chirpings about the album began in April 2020 on the eve of Drake releasing “Dark Lane Demo Tapes.” In the Instagram caption for the project, Drake wrote at the end, “Also my 6th STUDIO ALBUM DROPPING SUMMER 2020!!! Lucky number 6.” It wouldn’t be until he released the album’s first single, “Laugh Now, Cry Later,” featuring Lil Durk, in August of last year that Drake would reveal the name of his forthcoming album. That song came with a lavished music video shot in Nike headquarters and upcoming Nike “Certified Lover Boy” merchandise. Despite a few raised eyebrows at the project’s unique title, the uncontainable hype of a new Drake album overcame most jeers as fans anxiously anticipated its arrival.

That anxiety would fester for two months as Drizzy did everything except talk about the album, including announcing that he would be launching a candle company, opening a new OVO flagship store in Japan, and appearing on several guest verses, including Yung Bleu’s “You’re Mine Still” remix. Then, on his birthday, October 24, the 6ix God promised that “Certified Lover Boy” would be dropping in January and delivered the announcement with a cinematic trailer that recreated some of his most iconic album covers, from his “Comeback Season” mixtape days to “Take Care” and “Nothing Was the Same,” among others.

However, Drake went radio-silent for another two months. He didn’t return with the album, but instead with a three-pack EP, “Scary Hours 2,” which included “What’s Next,” “Wants and Needs” featuring Lil Baby, and “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” featuring Rick Ross. The EP debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts, making Drake the first artist in history to ever debut three tracks simultaneously in the top three spots. Despite “Certified Lover Boy” being delayed for several months, guest appearances on fellow rap stars’ albums like Migos’ “Culture III,” Young Thug’s “Slime Language 2” and more held fans over until the fabled album finally arrived.

A month before “CLB” dropped, Drizzy took to his OVO Sound Radio imprint during an airing of new music from others within the camp to announce that the album had been ”fully cooked.” He also issued a warning — which many speculated being towards his archival Kanye West — that “’Certified Lover Boy’ is on the way, and that’s for anyone in the way,” as the Chicago rapper was preparing to drop his album, “Donda.” After Drake possibly issued another shot at Kanye on Trippie Redd’s song “Betrayal” and brought their beef to a boil, the “Certified Lover Boy” rollout truly began. First, he announced its (actual) September 3 release date on ESPN in the form of a hijacked broadcast. Then, that same week, billboards began popping up in Toronto of what many believed to be song lyrics from the album.

 

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