There he is. Tiny Drake sitting atop the CN Tower of the Toronto skyline taking in the views, reflecting on the city below. His legs dangle down like a kid sitting on a giant puffy chair. Though, proportionally, he would be a giant if he came down and walked the streets.
Drake’s fourth album, VIEWS (now shortened from Views From the Six), is out tomorrow. At the start of the week he posted the cover on Twitter. It’s the final chunk of information to spill out before the 20-track album plays from car stereos all summer long.
The cover immediately establishes a connection to Toronto with two Canadian icons sharing the same space. Drake, arguably the most well known Canadian today, is dwarfed by the tower. Once considered the tallest skyscraper in the world, the CN Tower stands today as the third largest. It’s positioned to the left of the cover going out of frame in each direction. It’s a great use of the square canvas, the tower zoomed in and cropped out.
Drake is surrounded by the single most image to remind him instantly of the Toronto skyline, a welcoming sight whenever he finally gets off the road. It’s the city he loves and the city that loves him back. It suggests the album may look more outwardly in Drake’s confessional laments. He’s at the top, but looking down at the place he understands best.
The cover of his last album, Nothing Was the Same, showed an illustration of Drake with his head in the clouds for a set of songs that looked back heavily on his days before fame. VIEWS, then, might be more focused on the world around the artist today, the changes his hometown has undergone in recent years and his role in that transformation.
After all, he has put Toronto on the cultural map. No one can say for sure, but would this year’s NBA All-Star game have taken place there if not for his position as “global ambassador” to the Toronto Raptors? The team, currently leading the Indiana Pacers 3-2 in the first round of the playoffs, holds Drake Nights during the season. His lyrics are littered with sixes, a number that has come to represent the city because of its placement in two area codes. His OVO Fest, now in its seventh year, has become one of the premier East Coast festivals. Drake and Toronto lift each other up. When listening to Drake it’s easy to get sentimental for the city even if you’ve never been there and know nothing about it.
The colors on VIEWS are all grey shades, concrete, rain clouds. The tower is catching what looks like the last bits of sunlight, leaving its eastward side shrouded in shadows. Something this way looms. The clouds are dark and gathering in the background. The scene looks to be happening in the final hours of daylight, a transition period between AM and PM, where our desires, and our mistakes in relation to those desires, become cloaked in the darkness.
Judging only by the cover it seems VIEWS could end up being considered the quintessential Drake album up to this point. The only thing that could make it more Drakian is if he were wearing a Kyle Lowry jersey.