Drake's "If You're Reading This It's Too Late" proves the rapper's dominance is well deserved.
When Drake released his newest mixtape, If You're Reading This It's Too Late, a few days ago, it took the internet by storm. Falling in line with Jay Z, Kanye and Beyoncé before him, he dropped it almost completely out of the blue, with no real warning. The internet went into a frenzy over the release, and a large portion of the response was relating to the question, "is this an album or a mixtape?"
The line between the two has been blurred to a point where it isn't totally clear what the difference is. Is there a difference at all? For what it's worth Drizzy took to twitter to post this photo…
However, it was along with the link to buy the album from iTunes, something that doesn't coincide with the fact that mixtapes are normally free. The other question about the release was if this is the album that was rumored months ago: Views From The Six. Drake is known to put out music randomly on his Soundcloud, so there's no telling what is what when we get a new release. We just have to take it for what it is: fresh music.
The album starts with "Legend," a slow building opener that sets the tone for the album. Drake sings about death and how he may be remembered should he pass away young. Track 2, "Energy", flows like "Started From The Bottom" and is seceded by "10 Band," a track that boasts a similar beat. These two pair up nicely, and Boi-1da's instrumental work is the fire of the album thus far. Drake doesn't spit his nicest verses over these ones, but the lines are certainly entertaining. "I got money in the courts so all my niggas are free / Bout to call your ass a Uber, I got somewhere to be."
"Know Yourself" jump-stars an eight-track run of suuuuuper slow songs. Apparently Drake's time in Atlanta has left quite an influence on the boy because these songs sound like they were created with Migos in-house. There is, however, an eeriness that is totally Toronto, and the tale of two cities is prevalent for this large chunk of the album.
On "Know Yourself" he talks about running through Toronto with his crew (WOES) and his love for money and women. Boi-1da, this time with Vinylz and Sky Sense, creates a melodic monster that could easily stand on its own two feet as an instrumental. Drake's lyrics aren't exactly profound on this one either, but his delivery is so smooth that he rarely ruins a song. Even if he isn't really saying anything great lyrically, the voice still sounds nice.
"No Tellin'" plays the same way before we get our first 40 beat of the tape, "Madonna." "Madonna" switches the tough-guy attitude to the other side of Drake: the uber-sensitive crooner. From the sounds of it, Drake's celebrity crush is giving him the different kind of 'woe.'
"What if I pick you up from your house?
We should get out, we haven't talked in a while
We should roll to see where it goes
I saw potential in you from the go, you know that I did
I don't know if you know but I know who you are
You could be big as Madonna"
"Star67" begins the better half of the album. New York's Vinylz cops his second production credit on one hell of a beat, that is really two separate songs in one. Vinylz is one of the few non-Canadian producers on the album as Boi-1da, 40, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Frank Dukes represent our neighbors to the north pretty hard on this one.
"Preach" arrives as more of a PARTYNEXTDOOR-centric track, where Drake plays a supporting role. Much like The Weeknd before him, PARTY provides a hefty bit of influence as Drake's protégé. If it isn't clear on "Preach," the "Wednesday Night Interlude" establishes that the Sauga belter's presence is as much an OVO showcase as it is a feature. It works well within the flow of the mixtape, however, and the fellow Canadian is definitely opening some eyes in the scene, most importantly Drake's. It's a tasteful move.
"6 Man" is an opus from 40. The beat is as sick as any he has produced in the past, and it is clear that the producer still has his best days ahead of him. Drake goes in nicely on this one too:
"I'm here to fuck with niggas souls, my heart is cold
It's prolly cause I'm from the snow, with all my woes
I know they wanna see me go, I'm on a roll"
"Now & Forever" gets real atmospheric, almost leaning more towards a Yung Lean track than the ATL/TOR hybrids that are prevalent on most of the album. The way he sings on this one is reminiscent of his So Far Gone days, but fits snugly beside trendy 'alternative R&B' fare, which further illustrates that tape's influence since its release.
Speaking of which, it is worth a mention that If You're Reading This… was released on February 13th 2015, exactly six years from the release of So Far Gone. The relevance of 'the six' runs deep with this one…
The best moment on the album has to be considered "You & The Six." Drake is at his best when he is speaking from the heart. He has a real way of spilling his guts on a track, and while it makes him the subject of many o' memes, it is the single most captivating part of his craft.
This song is dedicated to his mother, Sandi Graham. He spits the truth on uncomfortable subjects, like the strained relationship between himself, his dad and his mom. Anyone who comes from a broken home knows that the mom-dad-son triangle can be a pretty weird dynamic, and Aubrey gives us a sneak peak in to his family problems in a really interesting way.
"Having conversations with momma, we start talkin' bout dad
You know he dropping a single, he saying this is his window
That nigga still wearing linen, that nigga still in the club
Call him after we get off the phone and show him some love
That nigga Memphis for real, girl he love you to death
He made mistakes throughout his life that he still doesn't accept
But he just want our forgiveness, and fuck it look how we living
I'm content with this story, who are we not to forgive him?"
The line about winning a Grammy and attributing a portion of that success to his familial situation is nothing short of genius. On a record where most songs have little emotional value, Drake really stepped it up on this one, creating one of his best tracks to date.
"Jungle," the melancholy one that was released with a short movie a day before the release of the mixtape, sees 40 and Drake link up for some classic R&B. It's a nice track to wind down the album, and after the blitz of realer-than-hell rhymes on the preceding track, it is well deserved.
And what would an album be without a bonus track? 'OH YOU GOTTA LOVE IT!'
"6pm in New York" follows the "9am in Dallas" and "5am in Toronto" tracks. Fans of no-frills hip-hop have grown fond of this series because it is straight bars. On an album that won't go down for its extraordinary lyricism, it is much appreciated. This one also takes some stabs at Tyga, who tweeted and deleted a comment in response to Drake after its release.
"Why you rappin' like you come from the streets?
I got a backyard where money seems to come from the trees
And I'm never ever scared to get some blood on my leaves
Phantom slidin' like the shit just hit a puddle of grease
I cook the beef well done on the double with cheese
Special order for anybody that's comin' for me
Shit you probably flinch if somebody sneeze
You see they got me back talkin' like it's just 40, Oli, and me"
This caps off an overall great album that can stay interesting past the one-hour mark. While there's no telling if we're suppose to get Views from the Six any time soon, these 17 tracks are ill enough to hold us over for a while. Who could complain about a surprise release like this? The beats are damn near perfect, the melodies are thoughtful, and the vocals are nice. Until next time, Drake… until next time…