Drizzy’s feels fall flat
Drake tried to pull a Beyoncé, but could only manage a Kelly Rowland.
Last week, I was awoken by a text from a friend in the middle of the night: “DRAKE. MIXTAPE.”
It took me a moment to fully rise from my slumber and put two and two together. As I gained full consciousness, it hit me: Drake has just pulled a Beyoncé with his mixtape and released it while we were all sleeping. Is this a trend? Because it’s kind of annoying for A&E writers. We can almost always count on waking up Tuesday morning to a wide array of new releases. We have time to prepare. But overnight? On a Thursday? How am I supposed to prepare for this?
I digress. Being a fan of the musical stylings of Drake (né Aubrey Graham, the name he used while on Canadian teen drama “Degrassi”), I felt compelled to listen.
“IF YOURE READING THIS ITS TOO LATE,” reads the album artwork.
Oh. Is this meant to look like a suicide note? That’s … that’s not OK, Drake. A ransom note? Still a bit weird. Below the message is a pair of praying hands. In the bottom right, the customary “Don’t Play This When Your Mother’s In The Car” sticker.
I have no clue what this album is supposed to be about.
I pressed play. Here goes nothing.
The first track on the album is called “Legend.” Oh, nice. _ I thought. _Paying homage to Beyoncé,
“If I die, all I know is I’m a (Oedipus-complexed) legend,” he croons.
Ah. Very well, then.
“I’m too good with these words,” he claims –– which is indisputable. The line “On a roll like Cottonelle/I was made for all this (Iggy Azalea)” from “All Me” is poetry. Drake seems keenly aware of his lyrical prowess.
“Energy” opens with gunshots. Oh. Oh my. Is this some sort of ironic reference to Jimmy, his character on “Degrassi,” being shot in season four?
“I got two mortgages, 30 million in total,” he laments. “I got strippers in my life but they virgins to me.” Someone go give Drizzy a hug. He seems to be in a bit of a rough patch. “Energy” offers a look behind the gilded facade of fame. Everyone gets angsty sometimes, even Drake.
“Ten bands, 50 bands, hunna bands, (screw) it man, let’s just not even discuss it man, OMG,” Drake sing-raps on “10 Bands.” Is this about a battle of the bands? “Haven’t left the condo for a week now.”
You OK, Drake? Do you need some soup? Do you wanna talk? It’s OK. We love you.
The next track is entitled “Know Yourself,” perhaps a reference to the Oracle at Delphi. Perhaps doing some soul searching will help Drake work through his issues.
On “No Tellin,’” he recalls “living out of suitcase/still drinking Henny,” a colloquialism for the French Cognac Hennessy. I’m starting to get really concerned about Drake. No fixed address and hard liquor? Come home, Drake. We love you. We will take care of you. In this song, he seems to long for more –– a sense of purpose? Another Grammy?
On “Madonna,” he reassures his girl that she’s “as big as Madonna,” widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, making this the highest praise. Good on you, Drake. You compliment those girls.
“Watch your (Oedipus-ing) tone, boy,” Drake admonishes on “6 God.” Please, respect your elders/rap superiors, he seems to implore.
The next track, “Star67,” is not, disappointingly, about prank calling one’s principal. It has a nice beat, but it loses points for not featuring the line “is your refrigerator running?”
But he gains points for the line “I been had these visions/Of the life I’m livin’ since I was Jimmy.” Never forget where you came from, Aubrey.
(My listening session on Spotify was interrupted at this point by an ad for McDonald’s. I am a vegan. Targeted advertising can only do so well.)
In “Preach,” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR, Drake reflects on the joys and pitfalls of life in the city –– sex, drugs and feels. “(People) is all in their feelings these days,” he says. You’re not alone, Drizzy. Cry it out, man. I’m here for you. Those other girls? They aren’t worth your tears. It’s gonna be OK, man.
“Wednesday Night Interlude,” like “Preach,” opens with a verse from PARTYNEXTDOOR. Wait … hold on … when does Drake’s verse start?
After researching (read: a RapGenius search), it appears that Drake does not appear on this track. It’s all PARTYNEXTDOOR, an OVO Sound (Drake’s own label) signee and fellow Canadian. While I applaud Drake’s spotlighting a young, up-and-coming artist, the ethereal vibe is a bit out of place on a rap album. Save the artsy stuff for Coldplay.
“Used To” features Riff Raff and Weezy. Only the best for Drake. This seems only to serve the purpose of padding Drake’s ego –– look how good I look compared to these jokers. Aubrey says “(he) ain’t felt the pressure in a little while” –– understandable, as Mr. Raff and Wayne are far from competition. Drake can coast, if he wants to –– he is, mind you, “on a roll like Cottonelle,” &c.
On “6 Man,” Drizzy compares himself to;
— 1) Neo, from “The Matrix;” — 2) Guy Fieri, of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" and “Sir, you are an actual talking can of Axe Body Spray” fame; — 3) Macgyver; — 4) Michael Myers, the antagonist of the “Halloween” horror series; and — 5) DeMarcus Cousins, center for the Sacramento Kings.
Drake seems to be in the midst of an existential crisis here –– who is Drake, really? Is he Drizzy? Is he Jimmy? Is he Aubrey?
“Now & Forever” tells the story of Drake leaving his old label, Cash Money Records. It’s an introspective track, as he determines his future away from the label. The juxtaposition of this track with “6 Man” is poignant. Drake is going through the same crises many twenty-somethings go through as they ascertain their identities. Stars –– they’re just like us!
“I need a girl from the country/I need a girl from Kentucky/I need a shawty from Houston," Graham croons on “Company.” The song details his search for true love. Drake’s a hopeless romantic, holding fast to the idea that true love is out there. Good luck, D. I hope you find your soul shawty.
As Drake continues on his quest to do Kanye better than Kanye, he sing-raps soulfully about his mama on “You & The 6.” He continues the slow-jam-feels-rap with “Jungle,” an open letter to his girl. Drake also believes in unconditional love. “Are we still good?/If I need to talk are you around?/Are you down for the cause?” he questions. As much as he sings about sexy girls and luxury cognac, Drake really just wants a girl who will cry it out with him over chamomile. (Just don’t tell YMCMB that.)
The mixtape ends with “6PM In New York,” a continuation of his “time in a city” series (previous installments include “9AM In Dallas” and “5AM In Toronto”). In the space of four minutes, Drake proceeds to slam many of his fellow rappers. He’s a sensitive soul, but he’s the best sensitive soul in the game.
All told, “If You’re Reading This” was underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong –– it’s a great album. “Reading” is to Drake is as “Yeezus” is to Yeezy –– it didn’t leave me mad, just disappointed. It was a valiant, soulful effort to find himself, but failed to surpass Graham’s previous work. It’s a great ambient, mood-setting (if you’re going for an intensely introspective and at times depressing mood) album, but not a great one for blasting. While “Nothing Was The Same” gave birth to infectious songs like “Started from the Bottom,” “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and “All Me,” it’s hard to picture crowds of frat boys belting out tracks from “Reading.”
MOVE gives “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” 3.5 stars out of 5.