By Ryan Croke
Immense hype surrounded the release of Her Loss on November 4. The surprise collaborative project from Drake and 21 Savage was announced just a few weeks earlier, but that was all the time the world needed to speculate about the album and what could be expected from the duo of two hip-hop sensations, who had significant success on singles together in the past. Fortunately, the pair were able to live up to the hype and managed to concoct quite a few gems on a surprisingly consistent record, much to the delight of their vast fanbases.
Perhaps one of the most robust characteristics of the album is its variety, which is something nobody would have predicted going in. 21 Savage has tried to venture into some more mellow and melodic tracks in the past and for the most part, it hasn’t gone well. Still, on the slower cuts on this one, he sounds right at home. Drake on the other hand is much more used to working over a slow and somber track, but also found a way to match 21’s sinister energy with plenty of cold flows and clever bars during some of the project’s hardest-hitting tracks.
The most glaring examples of the versatility these two display on Her Loss are Spin Bout U and More M’s, both of which have distinctly different vibes but are incredibly strong and engaging tracks. While not quite on the same level as some of the record’s strongest hits, these tracks are certainly notable. Spin Bout U sounds like something that could have come straight from Drake’s 2021 solo project Certified Lover Boy; The instrumental is punchy but melodic, the tempo is slower, and it’s something that Drake is right in his wheelhouse spitting over. And while Drake certainly shows his comfort with this sound, 21, who has dabbled in it briefly in the past, delivers a strong performance as well, and is able to match Drake’s energy to make an incredibly cohesive track. Meanwhile, More M’s would be right at home on 21’s 2020 collaborative record with Metro Boomin, who just so happened to produce the track, Savage Mode 2. The instrumental is chilling, and the second the drumline hits, 21 taps into his signature style. He sounds like a cold-blooded killer, and Drake, for the most part, is able to live up to that standard on the back end, matching the flow, the tone, and the vibe that 21 so masterfully produced. While these two songs may not be as memorable as the legitimate standout hits on the record, they are nothing to gloss over, and the way Drake and 21 can shift modes so seamlessly is incredibly impressive.
Another wonderful surprise was the chemistry the two artists had, which was evident throughout the entire course of the record, but perhaps most so on On BS, one of the strongest highlights Her Loss has to offer. While we don’t exactly get Drake and 21 trading bars back and forth, which is a shame, the two trade verses over a simple yet sinister beat, and they bring out some of the smoothest flows and coldest bars we hear on the entire record.
Even though the album is a collaborative effort, Drake and 21 Savage do get an opportunity to do some solo work. Drake has four solo tracks across the LP, and all of them are in the chill and mellow lane Drake has grown so comfortable with, but the production and tones Drake uses do enough to make each individual track stand out from the others. In particular, Middle of the Ocean is a six-minute cut that Drake glides on over a lush and heavenly instrumental that is fluid throughout the track, and it’s by far the most luxurious song on the tracklist. 21 only has one solo track on the 16-track project, 3 AM on Glenwood, which is another slow cut with a bit of introspection from 21, making the track a welcome addition.
Perhaps the most gratifying element of Her Loss is one that Drake has been sorely missing as of late: Consistency. In fact, no project of Drake’s has been this consistent since 2015’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and that is high praise. Not every track is incredible or groundbreaking, but each song has something unique and interesting to offer, and it seems as if 21 was able to bring a lot more effort out of Drake on this project than we’ve heard over his last few releases, and that’s something to be incredibly excited about.
In addition to seeing minimal issues with consistency, which have notoriously afflicted Drake’s career over the years, Her Loss also has quite a few memorable and exciting hits, which 21 Savage has had trouble creating consistently in his own career ventures. Rich Flex, Broke Boys, and On BS are some of the hardest cuts on the entire record, Circo Loco sees Drake take shots at everyone over an infectious Daft Punk sample, and Major Distribution and ***** and Millions feature beat switches and infectious flows that create the most memorable moments on the tracklist. Needless to say, Her Loss has plenty of hits, and they’ll be talked about for quite some time.
Her Loss is the complete package. It’s well-engineered, incredibly consistent, and also has plenty of standout hits that make the listener want to keep coming back. Drake hasn’t sounded so consistently smooth in multiple lanes since 2015, and 21 Savage showcases vast improvement with his hooks while also bringing some incredible verses to the table. The most valuable quality of them all though is that it’s simply a fun listen, and in those terms, there’s not much to be desired here. 2022 has been an outstanding year for the music industry, and Her Loss certainly belongs on the list of reasons why.