I wasn’t initially excited to hear that Drake had released a new song; he’s not a rapper whose career ever really interested me for any reason other than his stint as a Canadian television star. And I was wrong to be so dismissive (though I suppose that such conflict between image and artistic viability are sort of the norm forDrake) because “Started From The Bottom” is pretty excellent. It may be difficult to think of him as a profound force in hip-hop, but Drake manages consistent returns for his fans with catchy, robust songs that play excellently to his strengths as an MC.
“Started From The Bottom,” which was released this past Friday, loops a Final Fantasy-esque piano riff under droning lyrics that hit against and recede from a consistently pleasing melody. Mike Zombie’s production is spot-on here, and manages to sharply and sufficiently remove Drake from his Young Money confines. The influence of Kendrick Lamar’s recent output is distinguishable on “Started From The Bottom,” and this borrowed mood suits Drake nicely, perhaps even giving credence to the idea that Drake is playing the hip-hop game as well as anybody.