Drake • If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late • Cash Money • US Release: Friday 13, 2015
You know what’s the rave these days? Dropping surprise albums – unless you’re U2 that is! Drake did something incredible on February 13 – which just happened to be Friday the 13th! He dropped his fourth album to the shock of everybody! Anytime Drake drops, it’s almost like the ‘second coming.’ If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late quickly changed the state of the week’s Billboard charts and eliminated the chance for Taylor Smith to chart for a 13th week. Yep, it totally did that. Most of all though, Drake gave fans another album, and not even the one that was expected! Is it #Winning or #Losing? It’s Drake – of course it’s #Winning!
“Legend” opens If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late with a relaxed, grinding pace. Even though the tempo is slow and labored, Drake spits nothing but ether, ultimately summing up the opener with a simple, but memorable hook: “Oh my God, oh My God / If I die, I’m a legend.” In other words, Drake spends four minutes spiting over a Ginuwine sample (“So Anxious”) proclaiming himself to be ‘the sh*t,’ and that’s perfectly fine – “Started From the Bottom, now we here!”
“Got a lotta people tryna drain me of this energy!” Shameful they’d do that to Drizzy, right? “Energy” is jam-packed with ‘energetic’ one-liners like “I got rap n***as that I gotta act like I like / but my actin’ days are over, f*ck them n***as for life” or “I got strippers in my life, but they virgins to me.” Ultimately, you can’t touch the untouchable – which being Drake and that seems to be the entire point of “Energy.”
“10 Bands” comes with beat laden with swagger, not to mention Drake’s ‘luxurious,’ unapologetic rhymes. Obviously, anytime the word “bands” is involved, there is often excess involved. Throughout “10 Bands,” Drake references his tremendous wealth and carefree lifestyle (“I been in the crib with the phones off / I been at the house taking no calls…drapes closed I don’t know what time it is…”). Part of the carefree lifestyle likely includes the strip club, which Drake has referenced in his music many times. That said he claims he “haven’t left the condo…” So he’s in his zone recording hot music, right?
“Know Yourself” continues to find Drake flexing, dropping names, and being honest about the type of person he is/has become. He “pray(s) the real live forever man / pray the fakes get exposed,” knows that “N***as want my spot and don’t deserve it,” and admits that he’s “…turnin’ into a n***a that thinks about money and women / like 24/7, that’s where my life took me / that’s just how sh*t happened to go.” They say honesty is the best policy Drake.
As fiery as he’s been leading up to “No Tellin’,” this track in particularly brings out the best in Drake. His wordplay is fierce as the punch lines are nonstop, one right after another whether it is “Dawg, just bought a island, gotta sail to it / you pick the casket, I’ll put the nail through it” or “The sh*t was gettin’ too predictable / the new sh*t is on steroids, I would never pass a physical.” To further intensify the mood, dark background vocals are added to the mix towards the end.
“Madonna” finds If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late continuing its scorching hot script. Here, Drake suggests this girl “could be big as Madonna,” later revising that to say she’s “Already on ten / Big as Madonna I’ll say it again.” On the hook, Drake definitely sounds like he’s ‘flying high’ – “Laced up, dripped up, sauced up” – just saying!
“I’m ‘bout to hit you with the work boy!” “6 God” has one of the sickest beats of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Sure, it’s repetitive like the majority of production work, but the rhythmically driven nature keeps things stimulating and interesting. It also gives Drake a great backdrop – inspiration – to devastate everybody else in the game. To quote Drake himself, “Got me feelin’ like a ball hog / I don’t pass ‘em when I get it.” Ultimately, “6 God” could be considered Drake’s version of Eminem’s “Rap God” or Kanye West’s “I Am A God.” He’s definitely “feeling himself.”
“Star67” features a couple of switch-ups, much like “Tuscan Leather” from Nothing Was The Same. The first verse is ends with a brilliant play on the title: “We’re sorry, you have reached a number that has been disconnected…” That sets up a distinctly different sound for the second verse, which is interrupted by a skit and hook before the third and final verse.
“Preach” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR features a predictable, if appropriate hook by all means: “Young n***a preach.” Unsurprisingly, both PND and Drake proceed to do just that, though doesn’t it sound like sacrilege to preach if you’re not an ordained minister? It’s even more suspect when the lyric “But hearing the scripture with that many sixes you should be afraid” rears is ‘blasphemous’ head. Sure he’s referencing the number ‘six’ from Toronto’s area code, but how could anyone resist the reference to the number of the beast? PND returns once more on the enigmatic “Wednesday Night Interlude.”
“Used To” featuring Lil Wayne speeds up the tempo, featuring more of a driving quality about the production like “6 God.” Unsurprising, the production has a malicious sound about it, perfect fuel for the fire for two bold MCs. “6 Man” continues with the same bravado of “6 God” without being quite as captivating. Maybe it’s because it’s predictable at this point. It’s not bad, there’s just not quite the same spark, etc.
“Now & Forever” has the lush, syrupy sound that has become associated with Drake over the years. As always, the melodic Drake “owns it” (no pun), with his rhythmic rhymes that anticipate the beats. On “Company” featuring Travi$ Scott, Drake admits his flaws as a suitor, proclaiming “She’s just a little too perfect / She’s just a little too worth it / I don’t deserve her at all, no not all…I’m still a canine at heart, I’m a dog.” The second half of the song doesn’t even feature Drake, but Travi$ Scott, who also proclaims himself a “dog”, adding he’s “a dog, I’m in heat baby.” At least both are honest that they aren’t looking for an emotional connection.
On “You & The 6” Drake goes for more substance, talking about his mother, childhood, and so on and so forth. He ends both verses with the same line: “You and the six raised me right that sh*t saved my life.” As summative as the closing line is, arguably the song’s best line is when Drake rap-sings “Gotta be careful around rolling stones or anyone that’s tryna throw stones at me momma.”
Grinding penultimate cut “Jungle” is an unexpected surprise, owing more to throwback soul than even contemporary R&B. The tempo is Drake-onian by all means, as is the sleepy, lazy vibe. Rhythmically, the flow is exactly what one expects via Drake – quick-paced rhymes over relaxed groove/production. Keeping up with all things ‘six’ oriented, “6PM In New York” concludes If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Expectedly, Drake is incredibly confident, evidenced by such lines as “The game is all mine and I’m mighty possessive / Lil Wayne could not have found him a better successor.” He also calls out folks – shocker right?
Ultimately, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is another solid, enjoyable Drake album. Is it his best? No, but it’s definitely consistent and has plenty to offer. It runs long at under 70 minutes, but this has also come to be an expectation of Drake so “the more the merrier” as they say. The repetitive beats and some of the raps designed in similar fashion at times are a minor quibble, but not removed from Drake’s established script by any means. All in all, this is another winner for Aubrey Graham.
Favorites: “Legend,” “Know Yourself,” “No Tellin’,” “6God,” “Used To,” “Jungle”