Drake // If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
by Charlie Dulik on February 25, 2015
Posted in: Album Review, Hip Hop, Music, Rap
ALBUM: Drake – If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late (2015)
Label: Cash Money // Genre: Hip-Hop // RIYL: Degrassi, Excessive Contemplation, Triumphant Bragging and Crippling Self-Consciousness in Quick Succession // Best Tracks: 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 15, 16, 17 // Grade: B+
For about the last four years, Drake has pretty much been on a constant victory lap. His out of-the-blue release of If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late moved the most first week copies since T-Swift‘s 1989, and fell just under Beyoncé’s 2013 record for Hip-Hop/R&B sales. He almost immediately smashed Spotify’s streaming record, and currently has 14 songs in Billboard’s top 50 Hot Hip-Hop/R&B Singles. “Runnin’ through the six with my woes” instantly cemented itself as a classic line, and people continued to make great decisions with Drake and tattoos.
But, as always with the Champagne Papi, the better the times, the more clearly illuminated the accompanying sadness is. On “Preach (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR)” he sums himself up with “I’m in Miami/ Most of these girls are too messy / I’ve got to do some reflecting” before saying he’s convinced his calls are being recorded. But Drake’s never been one to linger on a concept for multiple projects, and even with lines like that, IYRTITL marks a natural and exciting evolution of his sound. Combining the atmospheric backgrounds of Nothing Was The Same with the energetic, minimalist percussion of “0 to 100,” the project’s often spaced-out, cold feeling can’t help but to establish a Toronto sound, especially when interspersed with clips of Drake’s friends talking with Toronto accents.
The albums lyrics range from the grind to romance to an ode to his mom to Guy Fieri. While the “woes” line is as catchy as “Started From The Bottom,” IYRTITL is chock full of substantial, quality lines and verses, from Game of Thrones references to disses at Tyga/Kylie Jenner. On “Energy,” Drake absurdly skewers some girls he knows with, “I got bitches askin’ me about the code for the wifi/ So they can talk about they timeline/ And show me pictures of they friends/ Just to tell me they ain’t really friends,” and on “Now & Forever” simultaneously comments on a smothering relationship and Drake’s departure from Cash Money. With three song titles about the 6, it’s clear that his focus is on Toronto, and he never digs in more than when he’s talking about his hometown and life there.
All of this project’s successes are despite the fact that this probably wasn’t even intended to be a real album. After hearing for a few months Drizzy was planning to drop a mixtape, rumor has it IFRTITL was only released as an “album” to fulfill his four album deal with Cash Money Records, allowing him to jump ship with Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Tyga and Birdman‘s relevancy.
On “No Tellin'” he tells us, “Please do not speak to me like I’m that Drake of four years ago,” and like always, Drake is right. Four years ago, sure young Aubrey had a number one album under his belt, but he had nowhere near the cultural dominance he commands now; the victory lap was just beginning. “They never told me when you get the crown/ It’s gon’ take some getting used to,” he asserts later on “Used To.” Ifstopping the world at the casual drop a mixtape is Drake adjusting to the weight of his crown, and Views From The 6ix still ahead of us in 2015, we should be constantly thanking the 6 God for blessing us with his braggadocious, sensitive, meticulously cultivated, occasionally smothering and consistently genius work.