“Her Loss” didn’t live up to its potential

By Vivi Smilgius

On Friday, Nov. 4, rappers Drake and 21 Savage dropped the 16-track project “Her Loss,” produced under Drake’s record label, OVO Sound.

The two have teamed up for a handful of projects before this one, most recently on “Jimmy Cooks,” the standout rap song on Drake’s most recent—and unexpectedly, dance—album, “Honestly, Nevermind.” Other notable collaborations between Drake and Savage are “Knife Talk,” “Mr. Right Now,” and “Sneakin’.” 

Their new album offered another promising crossover between Savage’s gangsta rap and Drake’s pop rap, and it produced a handful of instant-classics. But throwaway disses and unrefined production tainted the project and left some listeners frustrated, asking for a little less misogyny and a little more Savage.

Despite being a collaborative album, “Her Loss” sounds like a Drake album with a handful of Savage features. The two seem to gel on tracks like “On BS,” “Major Distribution,”—which quickly emerged as a fan favorite—and “Spin Bout U,” but their chemistry feels forced on tracks like “Hours In Silence,” a near-ballad dominated by Drake.

Standout tracks like “More M’s” provide a perfect balance between Drake and Savage, with each tapping into their signature flows. The two go back and forth, Savage imitating the cadence of his very own “No Opp Left Behind” while Drake flows seamlessly on and off the track. “Spin Bout U” is another instant classic, with Drake and Savage taking turns expressing their love for someone new. Rap verses from Savage are punctuated with a chorus of Drake singing, followed by a Drake verse that feels reminiscent of “Nothing Was The Same.”

For many, “Her Loss” is Drake’s welcome return to hip-hop after a brief detour in the dance genre with “Honestly, Nevermind.” Thematically, “Her Loss” feels like the whiny younger sibling of “Certified Lover Boy.” The final track, “I Guess It’s F**k Me,” borders on groveling as Drake begs someone to “Tell me, what did I do wrong?”

While simple lyrics make for a catchy album, the songwriting throughout  “Her Loss” feels a bit too one-dimensional. One bar from “Spin Bout U” reads as if written to blow up on TikTok: “four words when I think about them is crusty, dusty, musty, rusty / eight words when I think about us is f**k me, f**k me, f**k me, f**k me.” The sound has, in fact, ascended to TikTok fame in the days since the album release.

More alarming than the album’s lack of depth is its only true feature—aside from taglines and ad-libs from rappers Lil Yachty and Young Nudy—which comes from rapper Travis Scott on “P***y & Millions.” Scott has slowly but steadily re-established his presence in the hip-hop community after 10 people died at his under-regulated Astroworld festival last year, and his presence on albums like “Her Loss” confirms he is escaping the consequences of his inaction. Scott employs his classic autotune, rapping and singing on his own verse before taking a bite of the final chorus. 

As the second-most prominent voice on the album, Savage saves tracks like “Rich Flex,” “Broke Boys,” and “More M’s” with his standout features. However, his presence is sorely missed on others like “BackOutsideBoyz.” His deep voice and Atlanta drawl provide necessary contrast to Drake’s almost-shrill chest voice, and listeners begin to feel the lack of Savage as Drake’s verses drag on.

While Savage fans clearly received the album well—four of Savage’s current top five “popular” tracks on Spotify come from this recent project—the majority of “Her Loss” caters to Drake’s pop rap and alienates Savage’s classic trap and horrorcore styles from the mix, creating a sometimes-awkward overlap of sounds. There are some instances where the contrast of Drake and Savage’s style just works, like the album’s debut track, “Rich Flex.” Others, however, leave listeners wishing the two spent another week in the studio.   

“Her Loss” seems like 36-year-old Drake’s attempt to stay relevant among younger rappers and fans. His insecurities show through in “Circo Loco,” where he disses rapper Megan Thee Stallion by alleging she lied about being shot by rapper Tory Lanez in 2020. Stallion fired off a series of tweets in response to the song, saying “when the mf facts come out remember all y’all h** a** favorite rappers stood behind [someone] that SHOT A FEMALE.” 

Unfortunately, the diss tainted the album with unnecessary misogyny that devalued it, especially among female-identifying listeners, and solidified Drake’s new brand. The line is not only unnecessary, but poorly-executed. In the 2010s, the rapper proved his ability to beef, as exemplified through his years-long feud with rapper Meek Mill, which resulted in the former’s legendary diss track “Back to Back.” Drake’s misogynistic cheap shot towards Stallion feels like he’s grasping at straws—and it’s part of a larger conversation about why women simply aren’t taken seriously in a wide range of industries.

With help from—but not solely because of—his recent release, Drake has become entirely meme-worthy. He’s now the subject of TikToks and tweets mocking his verse on “Rich Flex,” in which he begs Savage to “do somethin’ for me” while Savage ad-libs quietly in the background. It might be more in Drake’s favor to play into this new form of attention rather than attempt to save his masculinity with digs at this generation’s beloved female rappers.

“Her Loss” tacks itself to the end of Drake’s downward spiral. The rapper’s freshman and sophomore albums remain his highest-rated on Pitchfork, and everything that followed has contributed to his steady decline. His most recent works—“Certified Lover Boy” and “Honestly, Nevermind”—both tallied a 6.6/10 rating, falling a full two points below his debut album, “Take Care.” “Her Loss” ranked a predictable 6.4/10, solidifying his downfall.

From its bars to its production, the project feels a bit rushed and generally underwhelming. “Her Loss” never establishes itself in any subgenre of rap, dipping its toe in trap and pop rap without ever picking a side. Instead of experimental, it feels wishy-washy, playing as a compilation of collaborations more than a cohesive project. Maybe it’s the memes, or maybe it’s just that Drake and Savage are such strong solo artists that they can’t truly mess up a collaboration project, but “Her Loss” still manages to claw its way through disappointments and into the light of well-loved fame.