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Drake - If You're Reading This It's Too Late (Album Review)

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

While his label-mate Lil Wayne is filing lawsuits against Cash Money Records, Drake is casually dropping albums for them without any promotion at all. To be more specific, ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ is a surprise mixtape-esque album that can be bought on iTunes, but is also being described as a prequel to Drake’s forthcoming ‘Views From the Six’ LP. What is for certain is that the polarising Toronto emcee is back, and he sounds moodier than ever.

For once though, it is important to clarify Drake’s melancholy tendencies, because he seems to have left the days of pathetic crooning to ex-girlfriends behind him. There is a newfound maturity to his writing that is reflected in his treatment of this album’s hypothetical subjects. When he raps about familiar concepts like picking up Toronto women on Madonna, he dispenses with dirty details in favour of a more impressionistic approach.

Drake’s style has more room to breathe than ever before, and this is reflected in the minimalist production. Though lyricism remains Drake’s Achilles’ heel, his involvement in the local battle scene seems to have influenced his approach. On songs such as 6pm in Toronto, the rapper is more punchy, delivering set-ups and haymakers aimed at peers: "It's so childish calling my name on the world stage. You need to act your age and not your girl's age."

There is now a moderate aggression to the Canadian’s flow that makes for a nice contrast. Even though this album might be a return to a less jubilant phase in Drake’s career, at least in terms of topic, it feels as though he is starting to redefine what his background means in terms of his career.

“Hearing a scripture with that many sixes, you should be afraid,” he proclaims on Preach and several tracks here are built around the metaphorical concept of “the Six”, a term Drake has coined to describe his home city of Toronto.

Though he stresses he’s now “in a higher place” on No Tellin', Drake is undeniably back home with this record, both stylistically and thematically. The difference is that this time he’s a better artist. Looking at faults here it’s the features that let ‘If You’re Reading…’ down. The contributions from PARTYNEXTDOOR for example, whose own mixtapes are worth investigating, are superfluous and overdone. Drake achieves better results himself on Now & Forever, where he vocalises over a similarly cloudy beat to greater effect.

Whether we’re calling this a mixtape or an album, it is certainly a cohesive project, and one that gives a good indication as to what we’ll hear on ‘Views From the Six’. Drake doesn’t appear to fully dip into either the camp of braggadocio rapper or earnest backpacker, and that can be frustrating, but he has at least purged the more unsavoury elements of his lyrics. His next album could be the one that directs his entire career.

Drake Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows

Fri July 03 2015 - LONDON Finsbury Park

Click here to compare & buy Drake Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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