WHEN DRAKE DROPS AN ALBUM, IT’S NOT JUST AN ALBUM, IT’S AN EVENT, A MOMENT IN HIP HOP TO BE SAVOURED. WHY? BECAUSE WHETHER WE LIKE TO ACCEPT IT OR NOT, HE’S HIP-HOP’S MOST INFLUENTIAL EMCEE IN THE GAME RIGHT NOW AND THAT’S WHY THE WHOLE HIP HOP COMMUNITY TAKES A STEP BACK WHENEVER DRIZZY DROPS A PROJECT; WHATEVER SOUND AND/OR FLOW HE LAYS DOWN PROVIDES THE BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE DIRECTION OF HIP HOP.
So today Drizzy pulled a Beyonce and dropped his new mixtape/album, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, completely out of the blue. It dropped at around 7am UK time (I think), it’s 9am right now and we’ve decided to review the album – but in a slightly different fashion. This is the first time, we at the Hip Hop Hub HQ have done this and we have no idea how this will go, but the premise is simple; we’re going listen to the album straight through and give you our opinions as the album plays – that’s right – no pausing, no hitting repeat – just our immediate, gut reactions. No revisions, no going back, literally a running diary of the first time If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late graced our ears.
Sound interesting? Good, so without further ado, let’s do this!
01. LEGEND – JIMMY
So here we go, the first track from the album. Sounds a little like old school Drake, he’s singing, wait a minute, do we recognize a Ginuwine “So Anxious” sample? We think I do. Daaaaamn, this is smooth. I’m getting pretty gassed already. I’m only 30 seconds in but if this album continues with this vibe and in this vain then this is definitely going to be good.
“All i know, if i die, i’m a motherfucking legend”.
Bold statement, Drizzy, but I think you could be right.
02. ENERGY – JIMMY
Oooooo. The production on this track is darrrrrk!! Drake has a lot of enemies!
“I got niggas I gotta act that I like but my acting days are over fuck em niggas for life”
Is that a shot at Tyga, perhaps?
I picked up on so many dope lines on this track; there were too many to list, but the line about the wi-fi password was pretty dope. Drake definitely goes in on this song.
03. 10 BANDS – JIMMY
Another minimalistic track, following on from the tone set on “Energy”. It has the “0-100”, “Believe Me” feel to it. There’s nothing really original about this track; it sounds a little bit like a filler tune; if the rumours are true that this is an album full of leftover tracks that didn’t make the cut for his upcoming album, then this track definitely confirms those rumours. The lyrics don’t really contain much substance; just Drake bragging about nothing.
04. KNOW YOURSELF – JIMMY
This beat sounds like it’s got Boi-1da written all over it. Another dark trick – I kinda like this Drake. Wow, that second small change-up with about 1:30ish left was really nice.
I need to take a break, so I’m going to let Francesca handle the next few tracks. Jeez, this is good.
05. NO TELLIN’ – FRANCESCA
“The new shit is on steroids, I’d never pass a physical”.
Hmmm, Drake seems to carry on his narrative from 0-100, telling us this is the best music he has ever produced. He addresses the “soft” and “innocent” R&B style he has been associated by saying he knows who he is when he looks in the mirror. Drake “took the summer off to get it right”, telling us he has worked his hardest to produce this music and while he was, the role he left briefly was never filled:
“I gave these boys a shot and they fuckin’ failed”
He calls out rappers who talk about their money but have nothing to show for it and slams down the gauntlet! The track explores many themes generated around the title: snitching, the amount of money Drake gets, what he will (or won’t) do for sex. Playful track!
06. MADONNA – FRANCESCA
“Laced up, dripped up, sauced up/ Damn, girl, I wanna ride with you”
The hook on this is sweeeet! Drake’s monotonous spoken voice is one for the ladies, here. This song is pretty much straight up sex. The production is chilled and subtle, owed to OVO’s Noah Shebib, and speeds up a sample “So Anxious” by Ginuwine. Definitely a hidden gem with that experimental hook.
07. 6 GOD – JIMMY
This track still knocks harder than the big bad wolf, but we’ve been there, heard it and got the T-shirt. It If you’re not familiar with, “6 God” [then you’ve been living under a rock] the track was produced by Boi-1da and Syk Sense; props to Drizzy for trying out some new flows on this beat.
“She’ll admit it, she’ll admit it
She ain’t fuckin’ with you n***as
And just like every other single thing in my life
You can have it when I’m finished”
How kind of you, Drake.
08. STAR67 – JIMMY
Is that a Lil Wayne sample I hear at the beginning? I’m liking the sound of this already!
Oh hello, nice switch up. Just when I thought this tune couldn’t get much darker. A change of flow from Drizzy too; this sample sounds familiar. Anyone know where it’s from?
09. PREACH (FEAT. PARTYNEXTDOOR) – FRANCESCA
We know Drake loves Miami and now he’s employed PARTYNEXTDOOR on the tourist board. These two complement each other perfectly; we’ve already seen them collaborate with “Recognize” which was released in 2014. PARTYNEXTDOOR’s electronic auto-tuned sounds with Drake’s raw, emotive style… damn. PND states:
“you old niggas be boring as bones, put the party tape on”
He might be new to the game (he signed with OVO Sound in 2013) but he’s confident his sound is the future. He also making some bold statements about how “she kept it wet like tsunami” – a double meaning of lady juices and a shoutout to his supposed girl Kehlani. The theme here touches a lot on girls (surprised?) and Drake’s willingness to pay their way to him. He’s throwing out the 6s like he’s the devil in disguise. Although comical, its intentional and might suggest why, so far, he’s been calling other rappers out in this album. Drake got evil, baby!
10. WEDNESDAY NIGHT INTERLUDE (FEAT. PARTYNEXTDOOR) – JIMMY
I’m really feelin’ the spacey feel on this track. I just realised, was that song just PND? Interesting, Drake has definitely built a reputation for putting his artists on the map, but giving one of your artists a whole track on your album? Bold move.
11. USED TO (FEAT. LIL WAYNE) – JIMMY
Ahhh, phew, another chance to catch our breaths! If you’ve listened to Lil Wayne’s Sorry 4 The Wait 2 mixtape, you’ll be familiar with this track. Although it sounds very much like their previous collaboration on “Believe Me” it’s still a hard tune.
It was only until recently that I picked up on something pretty cool about one of Drake’s lines on the track; the Canadian rapper has professed his love for the British genre in the past, but he certainly takes his adoration to the next level on this track, using an entire line from Skepta’s ‘That’s Not Me”. Drake raps:
“Shout out to the Gs from the ends, We don’t live no girls from the ends”,
This line comes from “That’s Not Me” which famously features the line “Love for the Gs in the ends, But we don’t love no girls in the ends”.
It’s refreshing to hear a rapper like Drake paying homage to a UK rapper, although it’s not surprising as he has posted lyrics and grime references on his Instagram in the past.
13. NOW & FOREVER – JIMMY
“I’m leaving, I’m leaving, I’m gone / No looking back when I’m gone”
If I were to close my eyes right now, I’d picture Drake on the train taking one last look at some girl and letting out one single tear as he disappears into the horizon as the camera fades to black.
“No more, no more, no more, no more, no more…”
Ok, Drake, we get it.
14. COMPANY (FEAT. TRAVI$ SCOTT) – JIMMY
This is that song you’ll probably skip when you are in the car with friends as it doesn’t quite have the panache as the other tracks; but if you are alone and it comes on. Wait a minute – woah! – this track just went “0-100″ real quick. Ok, I like that switch up. Not going to lie, I’m a big fan of Travi$ Scott, I think he’s super talented and definitely an artist to look out for; there’s a reason why he’s been dubbed ‘The Trap Kanye”, and it’s evident on this track. I was ready to write it off until the drop at 2:20. Wow!
15. YOU & THE 6 – JIMMY
I love this beat – I wish Drake would make more tracks like this one; this is his bread and butter. That line about the trainer?! Vintage Drake! That’s going to be so weird for that poor girl.
I’m not a huge fan of when rappers repeat the same word over and over, but it somehow works on this track, it’s as if he’s writing a letter to his Momma; a nice personal touch.
This is definitely one of the most emotional tracks on the project yet. Drake has built a reputation on getting really personal and a lot of y’all knock him for it, but it’s that personal touch that’ll give this song some mileage.
16. JUNGLE – FRANCESCA
Immediately, its easy to recognise Drake on this track. Its almost like its carried on from NWTS with the production coming in waves which coincide with Drake’s rhymes ending sharply. We’re hanging onto his word until the next line begins! Very reminiscent of “Marvin’s Room” from Take Care. This is the break-up song we all hate to love on a Drake album…
“What am I supposed to do after we done doing everything we do?/Who is your replacement?”
Damn Drizzy. Who hurt you and why was it Rihanna? Got me cutting onions. Man.
17. 6PM IN NEW YORK – FRANCESCA
After “Jungle”‘s depressing downer, Drake brings it back up to a level we can tolerate. Thanks D. The beat is loud and Drake’s lines are too:
“Maybe we should try and help somebody or be somebody/ Instead of bein’ somebody that makes the news/ So everybody can tweet about it”
He’s also back giving shout outs to girls who have either broken his heart or broken his bank. Either way, this track is strong and offers Drake to reflect on the evil Drake we’ve seen a lot of on this album. The 6s are alive!
“Your content is so aggressive lately, what’s irkin’ you?”
It’s almost like the previous couple of tracks have been taking us back to his soft side while this one fires off directly from the beat to tell us, “nah, just messing with you. I’m evil now.”
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is available on iTunes now