REVIEW: Drake’s “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late”

To celebrate the 6 year anniversary of his first mixtape, Drake surprised iTunes with a brand new mixtape called If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.   I think it’s very telling that Drake is labeling this as a mixtape and not an album.  This release feels like a jam session of Drake rapping over beats with not much thought put into creating a dynamic collection of songs.  To call it a “mixtape” makes it seems as though the Canadian rapper is telling us to not take this too seriously, and he’ll be back with something more substantial at some point.

drakeThat’s not to say that these songs don’t deserve a listen.  Drake continues to be a charismatic and intelligent rapper.  He’s one of the few rappers that you want to intensely listen to the lyrics.  He’s clever, playful, and really has something to say.  He opens the album with “Legend”, which includes the line, “If I Die, I’m a legend”. Bold statement…but when is a rapper ever humble?  There’s also “Energy” where he claims his acting life is over (sorry, Degrassi fans) and he’s got a lot of strippers in his life (jealous?).   He also points out that he’s not the same Drake he was 4 years ago because now he’s “at a higher place”.

On “Madonna”, he refers to Madge with the line “you could be as big as Madonna“, which sure sounds like Drizzy is using that as a pickup line for trying to get girls into his car.  It’s interesting that he uses the 56-year-old as his epitome of success that someone would want to reach (sorry, Beyonce).  Frequent collaborator Lil Wayne pops up on “Used To”, and it’s a welcome addition that comes late in the collection.

“Wednesday Night Interlude” is a nice change-up with a more R&B sound, but it’s more of a showcase of featured artists PARTYNEXTDOOR than Drake.  We don’t get to hear Drake’s singing voice (that he beautifully showcased on “Hold On, We’re Going Home”) until late on the mixtape with “Now & Forever”, a ethereal track that The Weeknd would love.

Each song works on its own, but listening to 17 tracks where there’s not much going on production-wise other than a hip hop beat is pretty tiresome…but it’s just a mixtape, right? So let’s just take this as a little snack to hold us over until Drake gives us what he’s holding on to (at least I’m hoping).

Grade:  B-

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