Drake pulls a Beyoncé
The 17-song track list shouldn't deter listeners from giving Drake's latest offering a listen - just skip the first song.
Rating: 3 out of 5
On February 13, Drake took the world by storm, releasing the 17-song album/mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. It has garnered a lot of attention by devoted and casual fans alike due to its sudden and unexpected release. In a world where albums get leaked months ahead of schedule, it’s uncommon to successfully pull something like this off – unless, of course, you’re Beyoncé.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late unfolds with a mix of dissonant ambient samples and drums that seem a little out of place with the dry and in-your-face vocals. This doesn’t mean that the beats aren’t catchy though, because believe me, they are. It just feels as though Drake has taken more artistic freedom with producing this album, escaping from producers and making something that is truly Drake. The album feels like he is trying to progress and shake the stereotype he has been given in today’s media. This is addressed in the beginning of “Energy” and furthermore in “No Tellin’.”
The overall scope of focus on this record is that it’s refreshingly diverse, reaching beyond the typical routine of relationships and fame. Although these topics aren’t entirely ignored, they’re certainly downplayed, and much of the content deals with self-reflection and coping with public portrayals.
What Drake gives us with this release is a collection of songs that present a few different sides of him. It’s not all classic gloomy Drake. There are quite a few aggressive and downright cocky songs on this album.
One of the highlights on this record is “You & The 6,” which is not only an ode to his mom, but perhaps the greatest hip-hop song ever written for a mother. Another highlight is “Know Yourself,” which contains some of the smoothest vocal delivery and the most memorable hook on the album. These two songs are followed closely with “6PM in New York,” which concludes the mixtape by addressing the haters and firing back with some of the best disses on this album.
Unfortunately, an album this long doesn’t get by without a few faux pas.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late opens up with a track titled “Legend,” which is a standard bragging track about how awesome he is as an artist. The bragging is fine and all, but Drake tries to sing the majority of this song with his classic nasally hit-and-miss vocals.
What doesn’t help this song is Drake’s restricted vocal range, mixed with the dissonance of his backing samples.
Skip this song. With 17 tracks on an album, you can afford to lose one. The second track, “Energy,” is essentially a more spirited version of “Legend” so you don’t miss out on much but painful moody crooning.
The other lowlight of this album comes in “Madonna,” which features some bizarrely timed lyrics. The first rule of music is to keep things in time, but this clearly doesn’t apply to Drake. The instrumentation is good, but the incomprehensible, out of time, muttered chorus, makes it a bleak stain on an otherwise great album.
At the end of the day, Drake manages to deliver a raw and personal album that doesn’t become redundant or boring after 17 tracks. It may not be his best album in terms of commercial hit singles, but it’s massive and chock full of great new content.
Make sure to keep an eye out for his fourth studio album, Views From the 6, dropping later this year.