On the afternoon of June 16, Drake blindsided fans by declaring via Instagram that a new project was arriving at midnight the following day, the obliquely titled Honestly, Nevermind. If the modus operandi of the 2022 pop season has been to promote projects weeks in advance — see Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers and Beyoncé’s just-announced Renaissance — then Drake’s surprise release stuck to the old, pre-pandemic rules of superstars announcing new product at a moment’s notice.
Even more shocking was the album itself. Far from the rapper’s oft-mimicked blend of humblebrag turn-ups and introspective soliloquies; Honestly is a foray into deep house styles like amapiano and gqom, with executive-production by award-winning DJ/producer Black Coffee. There are only two rap songs, “Sticky” and the 21 Savage collaboration “Jimmy Cook’s.” The rest finds Drake singing in an earnest, winsome voice reminiscent of past hits like “Passionfruit” and “One Dance.”
If Honestly, Nevermind’s deployment of Afrobeats flows is too jarring, try “Sticky” as a taster first. It finds Drake spitting over a deep and thumping beat produced by Gordo and Ry X, going hard in the club while offering the usual personal asides: “My momma wish I woulda went corporate, she wish I woulda went exec/I still turned into a CEO, so the lifestyle she respect.” He riffs “Free Big Slime out the cage” in homage to Young Thug’s incarceration, shouts out the late Virgil Abloh (whose voice is sampled at the end of the track), and admits that after all the world-conquering antics, it’s still “you alone with your regrets.” It’s familiar and comforting territory for an audience still processing Drake’s sudden, unusual evolution.