Drake surprises fans with “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late”

Anthony Scianna, Staff Writer

When Drake released his newest album, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” a few weeks 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.

Almost ‘breaking’ the Internet, Drake was mentioned 200,000 times per hour on Twitter. The time was midnight and the date was Feb. 13. It’s like Drake sent millions a personal gift, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Both shocked and ready to devout two hours of my time, I sat down and pressed play.

Getting past the cover art, we see a beautiful display of 17 diverse tracks. They flowed quite nicely too as each song faded almost perfectly into the next.

The album starts off with a braggadocios track entitled “Legend.” Drake sings about death and how he wants to be remembered should he pass away young. He gives an introspective look at how he views his status in the rap game.

He then transitions into track two, “Energy.” This up-tempo, trap beat is the future of rap music. It makes the listener bump, while still singing along with an angelic Drake. It’s an anti-hater anthem and speaks about how critics drain Drake of his energy.

“10 Bands” and “No Tellin’” share a similar beat. It features a clever mix of funk, heavy bass and well-executed snares. Though they are possibly the most braggadocios songs on the entire album, Drake’s lyrical content lacks meaning.

Another highlight is “Star67,” which provokes a bunch of unspoken thoughts Drake brings to life. He opens up about his feud with his record label, YMCMB. Joining his label-mates Tyga, Lil Wayne and Lil Twist, he joins the conversation about mismanaged funds from Birdman of parent label Cash Money Records. Drake doesn’t shy away from controversy, starting “Star67” off with this line, “Brand new Beretta, can’t wait to let it go. Walk up in my label like, where the check though? Yeah, I said it.”

“You & The 6” provides a nostalgic feel. In this song, Drake raps directly to his mother and it seems genuinely heartfelt. “Jungle” also uses a slower tempo, providing a sing-along tune for fans of “emotional Drake.”

The song “Madonna” sounds like a modern day “Marvin’s Room.” It’s an aggressive love song that shows the passionate side we are used to seeing from Drake. An abstract beat is laid over Drake trying to appeal to a girl by saying, “You could be big as Madonna, just get in the car.”

Sonically, this album is reminiscent of “Nothing Was the Same.” It uses atmospheric synths, which accompany Drake’s delivery nicely. Beat change-up’s end most of the songs on this album, keeping listeners on their toes.

Drake also manages to blend pop-rap and smooth singing, a difficult task in today’s rap game. This unique style makes Drake a polarizing figure, providing a generational shift in hip-hop music. A shift that is less macho and more in-tune with emotions.

But emotions sometimes get the best of Drake. Even at Drake’s highest points, he still shows a bit of apprehensiveness or awkwardness. You get the sense that he isn’t comfortable in his own skin. This is visible in his slower songs where he gets sentimental, even critical of his own character.

 

On a positive note, Drake drops some gems on this album. His confidence is convincing as well. In fact, it’s somewhat contagious. To balance his bravado, Drake checks himself every once in a while. His poignant one-liners give listeners a good mix, showcasing the two extremes Drake can offer.

Overall, this is a transitional period for Drake. No one was expecting an album, putting people on their heels and forcing them to judge quickly. Critics and listeners agree that Drake is heading in the right direction. Drake is at his best when he raps with conviction. Complementary sing-alongs are inevitable, but they have to balance not overwhelm.

There aren’t many songs you’ll scramble to skip and the hype is mostly gone, so “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.”