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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Review: Drake’s surprise album solid, sincere

    Cash+Money+Records

    Cash Money Records

    Drake followed Beyoncé’s 2013 example when the pop artist dropped the self-titled Beyoncé LP unannounced and, surprisingly, dropped 17 new songs on Feb. 12. Although If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is technically considered an album released under the Cash Money Records label, Drake calls it a mixtape in the notes, so let’s work with that.

    The songs seem to be randomly thrown together, yet are cohesive and show Drake at his best. There’s no striving for radio airplay, and there are no fancy collaborations that ensure the songs are going to be played at clubs. There are no crossovers with other genres nor super-catchy hooks. If they do exist, they are hidden well between moody verses. Easy to say, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is a purist rap album similar to Drake’s earlier work and easily distinguishable from his later, commercialized output. The newly won simplicity is further supported by the sloppy cover art that has the reader thinking it’s directed at them, when it is more or less directed at the label Drake is signed to.

    There are many theories as to why the tape was dropped out of thin air. Cash Money Records has an ongoing feud with Drizzy’s close friend, Lil Wayne. Whether Drake is using this tape to rush a release from his contract remains questionable.

    A closer look at the lyrics shows Drake bashing the label’s apparent failure to pay its signees. In “Star67,” Drake asks, “Can’t wait to let it go, walk up in my label like, where the check, though?”.

    On the tape’s 17 tracks, we hear Drake cleverly raving about his hometown, fame and money, subtly disguising social criticism every now and then. There are no ups and downs and no development in either the songs themselves or between the songs on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which, unsurprisingly, works. Drake seems to try to free himself from the image of a hip-hop-gone-mainstream artist.

    The number six, associated with Drake’s hometown of Toronto, can be seen as the silver lining of the tape. The opener, “Legend,” has Drake reveling in the fact that he’s the only one from “the six” who made it. Playing with double meanings, “6 God” has Drake becoming a sex god. “I hear the talk on the road is I’m the shit, boy.”

    With essential hip-hop motifs and a rush release, Drake seems to want to escape the perfectly marketed image of the darling rapper. But since If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is brutally honest, sudden and simple, it makes him all the more endearing.

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    Follow Caren Badtke on Twitter.

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