Drake’s surprise mixtape, released earlier this month, leaves no question as to who runs things in the most populated city of our northern neighbor. Long gone is the Drake we first fell in love with, the “Best I Ever Had” era Drake. The Drake we now know, and continue to love, is an emperor who lets no one forget who reigns. He says it himself in the fifth track “No Tellin’”: “Please don’t speak to me like I’m that Drake from four years ago/ I’m at a higher place,” and he’s right. He has risen so high that he can now release what is in all honesty an experimental mixtape, price it at a steep $13, and sell over half a million copies the first week (in addition to breaking the Spotify streaming record, no less).
Yet, in classic Drizzy style, the gloating confidence is offset by a humbling emotional side; in this case, he shows a gratitude for the city that raised him, as shown in these lyrics from emotional track “You and the 6”: “Hard labor let me pay the price/ You and the 6 raised me right, that s*** saved my life.” The number six is an obvious theme, featured in song titles and lyrics throughout. On “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” Drake claims his spot not only as a leader of the hip hop world, but also the sole champion of his beloved city: “It’s too late for my city/ I’m the youngest n**** reppin’”.
The best part of “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” is the darkly interesting beats, harkening back to a style not fully realized since 2011’s “Take Care.” The third track ‘Know Yourself’ offers what is easily one of the most satisfying beat drops of the past year, thundering over a beat that is energizing, yet dreamy and slightly sinister. The complexities of the beats mask lyrics that can sometimes be less-than-profound, but Drake still brings it with his classic word play and catchy one-liners.
Overall “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” has a lot to offer listeners: an intimately melancholy Drake, intriguingly muted production, songs to dance to, and songs to cry to. This mixtape may not have changed the game, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint.