Last night Drake dropped manna from the sky with his new album, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Well…it’s kind of an album.
In a handwritten note accompanying the project, Drake called it a “tape,” and the project feels like one. It’s loose, cohesive, minimal on the features and heavy on the production. It’s got two previously released songs (“6 God” and “Used To”) and nothing resembling a hit like “Worst Behavior.” If You’re Reading might be Drake’s single best unit of work to date, but that’s because it’s essentially the project his fans have always wanted. Hard beats, lots of rapping, and isolated singing (“Jungle” is dope). He’s even handed some vocal duties off to his artist PartyNextDoor, giving him an entire track of his own on “Wednesday Night Interlude.” In essence, Drake sounds like he’s having fun, and seeing how sullen he can get, this new tape has a refreshing, off-the-cuff feel that mirrors the strategy of the sudden album release. Most people would have released a single closer to the project dropping. Drake dropped a short film the day of instead.
We had some thoughts and observations on the tape, so read a quick breakdown below.
1. Varied Production
Production credits for the tape read like a somewhat less focused effort – which isn’t to take away from the quality of the beats. Drake’s musical consigliere 40 certainly had a powerful hand in the shaping of this tape, but his name only shows up four times, and though his contributions are the production highlights of the tape (that Ginuwine sample on “Madonna” is everything), Boi-1da and Vinylz continue to feed Drake a majority of his beats. Frank Dukes seems to be playing a larger role in Drake’s camp (good news), Texas producer Eric Dingus got co-production on “Now & Forever,” WondaGurl is getting more love, and other relative unknowns like Amir Obe, Daxz, Sevn Thomas, and Syk Sense get placements, too. Drake’s letting new producers shine.
To say If You’re Reading is an extension of the stuff Drake put on Soundcloud last year wouldn’t be wrong. Aesthetically it sounds like he’s building on both the crispier loop-driven sound from “0-100” as well as the ghoulish R&B vibes from “Days On The East.” In terms of the way the tape was released, it’s also an extension of the Soundcloud, middle-of-the-night formula. The entire album went up on OVO’s Soundcloud before quickly getting yanked down, and today the album’s up on Spotify. Drake probably could have milked the surprise drop for extra cash like Beyonce and Taylor Swift before him, but that doesn’t seem to be the priority. And there might be a catch to that.
2. If You’re Reading fulfills Drake’s original four-album deal with Cash Money
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is the last album in Drake’s deal with Cash Money. He signed a four album deal back in June of 2009, and this project completes that obligation. Notice it says “Cash Money Recordings” under the album in Spotify and iTunes. You’ll also notice Drake taking veiled shots throughout the project:
– “I got niggas that’ll still try fuckin’ me over / I got rap niggas that I gotta act like I like / But my actin’ days are over, fuck them niggas for life, yeah” on “Legend”
– “Brand new beretta, can’t wait to let it go / Walk up in my label like, where the check though?” on “Star67”
– “After this drop I got new demands / Can’t meet the terms, keep it movin’ then” – on “Used To”
Some have speculated that Baby didn’t want this project to be released, and thus the title of the project makes more sense. Then again, Birdman tweeted about the album twice, two more times than he did for Wayne’s Sorry 4 The Wait 2.
3. Mixtape Drake returns
There’s also flashes of the older mixtape Drake on songs like “You & The 6” and “6 PM In New York,” both of which remind me of “9 A.M. In Dallas,” if not because of the similar numbers in the title, then simply because it’s Drake spitting over more upbeat, minimal production.
4. Drake’s continued obsession with Atlanta
Speaking of the Six*, Drake continues his love affair with Atlanta on the tape, too ( “the Six” was originally slang for Zone 6, the east side of Atlanta). He shouts out BMF icons Big Meech and Bleu DaVinci on “10 Bands,” another standout from the tape, and other explicit references to the six have made some people wonder where all these “six” mentions were on previous Drake projects. It’s more a sign of Drake being the perpetual hip guy, latching on to the zeitgeist with artists like Travis Scott, Young Thug, and iLoveMakonnen just in time to make those rookies pop by simple virtue of being co-signed by Drizzy. He even samples a remix by Texas producer Eric Dingus for “Now & Forever.”
5. Views From The 6 should still be coming
By all indications, Drake is also still planning on dropping his Views From The 6 album. The question is on what label. It seems he and Nicki Minaj are trying to stay neutral in the ongoing conflict between Lil Wayne and Baby, but is that really possible? Drake is heavily mentioned in Wayne’s lawsuit, so he could very well want out, too, what with the incident of his own lawsuit popping up back in 2012.
Let us know if you like us taking notes when new project drops, and stream the tape below.
*We should note “the Six” Drake is talking about is Toronto, an amalgamation of six separate provinces.