Leave it up to Drake to drop an entire mixtape in the late hours of the night and still crash the Internet. Dropping the highly speculated mixtape just after 11:00 PM on Thursday night really came as no surprise. As the self proclaimed “6 God” does so well, the new music sent everyone into an OVO overload resulting in a crashed Soundcloud, iTunes, Sharebeast and of course many clogged timelines.
The mixtape, hinted at by Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and fellow TDot rapper P. Reign weeks ago, comes hours after Drake himself released a 15 minute short film entitled “Jungle.” The short film follows Drake around his hometown of Toronto, showing us the ins and outs of what looks to be an average day in his hectic life. The film also teases a few of the tracks featured on the mixtape, naturally generating excitement for the tape’s imminent release.
The title, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, actually brings up more questions than answers. At first glance, it would seem as if the title is a warning to his competition. If they themselves are reading the album cover/hearing the mixtape, their fans are too. Drake has made it clear on multiple occasions how easily he feels he could snatch away other rappers’ fan bases on the turn of a dime. This makes sense seeing as a lot of Drake’s so-called competition are all dropping projects in 2015. Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Wale, and Meek Mill among others, have plans to release albums this year.
Although that makes sense, let’s look a bit deeper. In the midst of this Birdman and Cash Money versus Lil Wayne debacle, Drake finds himself in a weird spot – caught between loyalties to his major label and the man that catapulted his career to the next level. Though Drake has shown loyalty to Cash Money Records and Birdman, he is undeniably riding with his mentor and idol, Lil Wayne. As Wayne has expressed on his recent mixtape, if he leaves Cash Money, he is bringing Young Money with him; more specifically, Drake and Nicki Minaj. The title of the tape could very well be a warning not to his competition but to Birdman and the administration of Cash Money. This would technically count as Drake’s fourth major release in a four album deal with Cash Money therefore concluding his “required” commitments to the label. When Birdman and the rest of Cash Money’s executives read the project’s title, it is already too late and Drake along with the rest of Lil Wayne’s loyals are out the door.
Unlike Wayne’s latest tape, Drake refrains from speaking on the Cash Money issue and keeps things status quo. The probability of die hard fans reading between the lines and finding subliminals throughout the 17 tracks is likely but as of yet, he seems to keep things quiet. What he doesn’t hold back from speaking on, however, is his feud with former Young Money label mate, Tyga. The bars on “6PM in New York” sharply address the comments Tyga made a few months back. He confidently raps over the Boi-1da beat “I heard a lil lil homie talking reckless in Vibe / Quite a platform you chose, you shoulda kept it inside / Oh you tried, it’s so childish calling my name on the world stage / You need to act your age and not your girl’s age.” Sorry, Kylie.
Despite Drake’s alleged “new sound”, this mixtape feels an awful lot like the old mixtape Drake. For starters, there are a whopping 17 tracks which is standard for a Drake mixtape. His raps are polished, tight and punchline heavy whereas his singing tracks are fluid, honest and melodic. Although there are no borrowed beats on this mixtape, the production is flawless. One of the reasons Drake is one of rap’s best sounding artists is thanks to his army of skilled producers. People like Boi-1da, 40, Vinylz and PARTYNEXTDOOR all lend their instrumental construction to the project, making it sound ever so “Drake”.
Just like any other project from Drake, the content is wide ranged. In songs like “6 God”, “6PM in New York” and “Energy” you can hear him show his braggadocious side that shows no signs of slowing down. The rapid fire delivery coupled with his imperious tone remind us that bar for bar, Drake is top notch. On songs like “Jungle” and “Now & Forever” we see that abstract slow song Drake that is sure to make even the toughest thug’s late night playlist. Finally we get the consciously honest Drake. On songs like “You & The 6” and “Know Yourself” we get a snapshot into Drake’s inner thoughts and get to play fly-on-the-wall for some of his most candid and personal conversations. On anyone else’s project, this much variety would likely sound unstructured and all over the place. Luckily, Drake has mastered the art of displaying so many different sides without sacrificing an inch of cohesiveness.
If there is something that could have been cleaned up here, it’s minor. His recent reliance on stretching out certain words from song to song hinders certain verses. For example, on “6 God” instead of simply rapping “you changed” he really stretches the word out and say “youuuuuu changed“. This type of pronunciation occurs throughout the mixtape and has begun to lose its effectiveness. It is perhaps most evident on “10 Bands.” He raps “I been in the crib with the phoooonnnessss off / I been at the house taking nooooooo calls” and so on and so forth. Although a small blemish in the grand scheme of things, it hinders the replay value of a few tracks.
If you can take anything away from If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late it’s that Drake is at the top of his game right now. There really isn’t one part of his artistry that is lacking in a major way. He seems to be outrageously comfortable in the current hip-hop climate that surrounds him. Amidst his label going through a civil war, his personal feuds with other Hip-Hop heavyweights and the looming competition from some of the game’s most promising artists, Drake finds himself with no visible worries and a mixtape that shows us just that.
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