If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late; Drake‘s latest mixtape/album set the music world ablaze after its surprise release just two weeks ago. It wasn’t a complete secret a la Beyonce’s style, but it had it’s desired effect nonetheless as it sent fans into a frenzy scouring the net for free download links. Many of us weren’t that lucky, but gladly coughed up our $12.99 to get a whiff of what Sir Aubrey cooked up. However once the hype died down you got to what really mattered—was it a quality project or not?
Drake is one of hip hop’s most popular artists today, and for that same,reason he’s one of the genre’s most polarizing artists as well. The same things his fans appreciate him for are what the critics despise.
IYRTITL kicks off with a boastful claim of Drake’s pending “Legend” status. With PARTYNEXTDOOR behind the boards, Drake slows it down and simply states that if he were to die this early in his career he’d already be ranked in the Pantheon of the greats. Drake finds a way to make this one sultry and catchy, yet still assertive and convincing all over a sample from Ginuwine’s classic “So Anxious.” This very approach and type of content gives life to the great Drake debate. Detractors feel like this overconfidence, singing/harmonizing delivery, and allegiance to the dollar bill are what hold Drake back from unanimous praise; but on the other hand Drake’s execution of a song whose content and mood don’t match is what makes this cut pleasurably unique. With songs titles such as “10 Bands,” Drake doesn’t hide from what he’s about. What makes “10 Bands” and songs like it special is how Drake executes—the nonchalant delivery, the slick talk backed by facts, the playful melody of the hook, the little nuances in his flow. It all plays a part.
Another point to note here is the overall bellicose tone Drake takes on most of IYRTITL. Drake keeps the singing to a minimal and makes bars a top priority in order to get his points across. Aside from songs like “Jungle” and “Preach” Drake is rapping like he has a point to prove. I don’t recall ever seeing an artist this conscious of his position in the formless rap game. Drake doesn’t just have the juice, he’s going borderline Bishop in his quest to keep it. He shines brightest on “6 God,” “6 Man,” and “6PM In New York.” The latter being touted for his utterly disrespectful shots at Tyga had a barrage of bars worth noting; including this interesting tidbit where Drake touches on all the issues going on in society.
F—kin’ with my image
I’ve been tryna reach the youth so I can save ’em this year
F—k it, I guess I gotta wait til next year
And I heard someone say something that stuck with me a lot
‘Bout how we need protection from those protectin’ the block
Nobody lookin’ out for nobody
Maybe we should try and help somebody or be somebody
Instead of bein’ somebody that makes the news
So everybody can tweet about it
And then they start to R.I.P. about it
And four weeks later nobody even speaks about it
Damn, I just had to say my piece about it
Oh, you gotta love it
But they scared of the truth so back to me showin’ out in public
Drake, 6PM In New York
Where the project falls is in its lack of cohesion and the fact that it sounds like some of these songs are unfinished. The tracklisting doesn’t appear to have a clear cut theme to itself. One second we’re up, then the tempo is down, then up again—rhyme is no reason. Then there are the unfinished cuts. We had an interesting take on “Madonna” that opened my eyes a bit, but still it remains unclear and certainly unfinished. “6 Man” was one of Drake’s ‘dumbest flows ever (good thing),’ but ends before it takes off. “Know Yourself” feels like it deserved another in depth verse to live on the album. Then there is “Now and Forever,” which I hope had some sort of significance or sentimental value to Drake due to it completely missing its mark on this mixtape.
After further analysis this clearly sounds like a tape full of throwaways. It says something for him to put out a mixtape of unfinished songs and concepts and sell 500,000 copies and it still be hotter than 90% of the music out right now. Drake has a stranglehold on music fans and I don’t see that ending anytime soon.
There was a lot of slick talk and game on this album. Not too much substance or social commentary, but do you really want that from Drake? Do you want him to speak on things he honestly has no feelings towards? He also did give us his take on certain issues in songs like “6PM in NY.” He sends a lot of bars that feel like they’re directed at ppl on here, but who is he talking to? Is he even talking to anyone? The future will tell.
Musically, it’s nice. IYRTITL is way more aggressive than anything we’ve gotten from Drizzy in the past. There is a lot of unfinished business here (“Know Yourself’s” lack of depth, “6 Man” ending abruptly, “Madonna,” “Now and Forever”). There are catchy moments, bits of quality rap, and not toooo much singing apart from “Jungle, (which was great too). Nothing amazing, but another quality release from Aubrey Graham.