As if there needed another reason to love Drake, the surprise release of his newest mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late reaffirms both his inherent likability as an artist and his superiority in the realm of rap. Deviating slightly from his signature style— repetitive yet catchy refrains and overlapping poppy background beats—Drake delivers with 17 impressive tracks. Loaded mostly with freestyle rap as opposed to established choruses, the lyric-heavy songs showcase the Toronto native’s innate ability to create meaningful content in a genre typically lacking in genuine sentiments.
What separates Drake from others in the industry is simply his genuine honesty. Usually avoiding the superficiality of rap that glorifies materialism and misogyny, Drake opts for a different kind of subject matter. If You’re Reading This is comprised mostly of tracks that explain Drake’s values, criticizes societal norms, and provide listeners with a taste of the 28-year-old’s unrivaled motivation to succeed and improve. A self-described sensitive guy, Drake is the toughest softie in the game—an attribute that fans appreciate, as his unabashed expression of emotional vulnerability is a refreshing change from the overbearing confidence exuded by other notable rap artists of today.
The introspective mixtape features just a few of Drake’s big-name rap buddies, which adds some welcome variety to Drake’s distinct mellow tone. Lil Wayne lends his raspy tones to the angsty track “Used To”—this well-produced collaboration discusses the scarcity of loyal friendships in an industry whose major players crush the competition in attempts to catapult themselves to the top. Drake gives insight into his world when he says, “When you get to where I’m at / You gotta remind them where the f—ck you at / Every time they talking it’s behind your back.”
One of the more popular tracks from the mixtape is “Preach” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR. A smooth track whose instrumentals compliment the rather haunting vocals perfectly, “Preach” emerges as one of the strongest pieces on Drake’s new release. Boasting a repetitive hook and distinct dream-sequence background music, the song creates a calm and hypnotic sound that differs from Drake’s previous hits.
Interestingly enough, Drake’s tendency to spit lyrics on his rise to fame and all the ever-present “enemies” and “haters” comes off as more of an inspirational monologue of trouncing obstacles as opposed to an irritating laundry-list of grievances. Yet another well-received track from If You’re Reading This, “6pm in New York” features multiple shout-outs to these haters, as Drake reveals that they are “eating away at [his] confidence / they scream out [his] failures / and whisper [his] accomplishments.” Instead of portraying himself as a victim, the rapper constantly works to be perceived as resilient and hardworking.
The boastful cockiness that is frequently found in his lyrics has not seemed to have deterred fans. His attention to the craft sways the listener. For example, the mixtape contains boastful lines like, “Lil Wayne couldn’t have found him a better successor” and “it’s so childish calling my name on the world stage / … My career’s like a how-to manual so I guess it’s understandable.”
Of course, as in any album, several songs on the tracklist seem to have missed the mark. Bland pieces like “Madonna” and “Star67” add very little substance to the mixtape. These musical fillers seem to do nothing but elongate the duration of the album. Lacking emotion, these tracks pale in comparison to the brilliantly confessional “You & The 6,” Drake’s musical thank-you note to his supportive mother for the helpful guidance he received throughout his upbringing.
Nearly six years after dropping his record-breaking debut album So Far Gone in 2009, Drake shows just how far he’s come with the surprise release and immediate popularity of If You’re Reading This. Shattering Spotify streaming records within the first 24 hours of the drop, Drake convinces listeners that he has not yet reached his peak popularity and success. Despite claims that he has “Got a lotta enemies / Got a lot of people trying to drain [him] of [his] energy,” overwhelming anticipation for Drake’s unannounced project suggests that this rapper has just as much life in him as he did at the advent of his so far colossally lucrative career.