Drake’s surprise ‘mixtape’ took the Internet by storm a few days ago, on the 6-year anniversary of his breakout mixtape So Far Gone. ‘If You’re Reading’ has no outright radio hits, it’s more of an experimental collection of songs that revisit the mood of his earlier work. A lot of people have been comparing this surprise mixtape to Beyoncé’s famous album drop, but the situations are completely different. It’s clearer than glass – Drake wants out of Young Money. He released this Album to speed up his exit from the label, as he owes them four albums. It’s a (very good) dumping of tracks before his major release later in the year, Views from the 6.
Drake’s easy to make fun of. He’s a Canadian, half Jewish, former child star who mixes singing with rapping, he’s vulnerable and sensitive. Drizzy knows this and it motivates him. He uses this tape to air his frustrations with the public and others in the rap game. “I been going hard/ but then again they think I’m soft/ they think I’m innocent”. Drake isn’t scared to address his issues with:
• Tyga “You need to act your age, not your girls age”,
• Kendrick “They gon say your name on them airwaves/ they got hit you up later like it’s only rap”,
• Diddy who allegedly punched him over a dispute about the 0 to 100 beat “Real quick, man, you couldn’t’ve hated that/let’s be real, nigga, you couldn’t’ve made it that”.
• Young Money – “Brand new Beretta, can’t wait to let it go/ walk up in my label like, ‘where the check, though?”
Musically, Drizzy has explored the new sound he created from 2013’s NWTS, using a similar flow with more experimental production. Long time collaborators Boi-1da and Noah “40” Shebib do a great job with a variety of heavily R&B sampled beats. Lyrically, Drizzy goes off. The majority of the project is not Drake’s trademark sung hooks – he’s bragging. He no longer has anything to prove – he’s showing why he’s the best. “I got rap n*ggas that I act like I like/ but my acting days are over fuck these n*ggas for life”.
We’re used to Drake being emotionally vulnerable but in ‘If You’re Reading’ Drake barely lets it show, though most notably Heartbreak Drake returns in ‘You & the 6’, an emotional open letter to his mum. I’m not going to lie; I teared up in this one. He talks about his mum trying to set him up with her personal trainer, pleads her to forgive her ex, his dad, and complains about having ‘no friends in this momma’. It’s an extremely moving song, and might be one of his best ever.
Album, mixtape, label drama, whatever the case. This is a great body of work, and consolidates Drizzy as untouchable at what he does. His range is unbelievable, he can go from bragging about 30 million dollar mortgages to his emotions, and not sound pretentious or obnoxious. He knows who he is, and embraces it. “N*ggas all in their feelings these days, all in their feelings these days/ but hearing the scripture with that many sixes you should be afraid”. After this project, they better be afraid of what’s coming next.