Review: Drake's 'If You're Reading This It's Too Late'
The endearingly sensitive and vulnerable Drake that the world had grown accustomed to is dead and gone.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is certainly not an album, nor is it a mixtape. The 17-track project is a statement of intent. It’s an unapologetic declaration of Drake’s independence from his label, Cash Money Records. It’s a sly smirk aimed in the general direction of his detractors. It’s OVO Records’ manifesto.
Above all, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is a warning.
Released at midnight on Friday the 13th, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late shocked the world not only with its unexpected arrival, but also with its unexpected content. Angry, menacing, and wholly unmerciful, Drake’s latest release is unlike anything the Toronto MC has ever put out before. Drake has evidently let go of all his inhibitions, ruthlessly aiming choice words at everyone from Birdman to Diddy. He directs his most brutal attack at his former collaborator Tyga, brazenly warning him “you need to act your age and not your girl’s age.” The LP is essentially one long, sonically stunning power trip in which Drake asserts his dominance over anyone and everyone. Listeners simply have no choice but to adjust to Drake’s rapidly expanding ego.
Drake’s demeanor is consistently sinister and cold throughout the project, save for “You & The 6,” a heartfelt confessional about his beloved mother. He has effectively abandoned his former persona as the perpetually sad, lint-rolling Canadian and chosen to adopt a new one that is characterized by extreme braggadocio and severity. The man is a self-proclaimed legend, and he spends a large portion ofIf You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’s hour-long run time hammering this point in.
While his unrelenting cockiness is slightly off-putting, it is certainly justifiable at this stage of his career. Within a week of being released, every single track from If You’re Reading This It’s Too Lateearned a spot on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip Hop chart. The LP also broke a Spotify streaming record previously held by none other than Drake himself. On the heels of this extraordinarily popular release, he is more influential than ever.
Drake’s musicality is transforming to match his newfound ice-cold approach to songwriting. WhileIf You’re Reading This It’s Too Late includes contributions from familiar producers such as Noah “40” Shebib and Boi-1da, it is also home to soundscapes from up-and-comers like Wondagurl. Stark, minimal and strikingly slow, the project is a sonic departure from Drake’s previous work. Noticeably absent from the project are the irresistibly catchy hooks Drake was once famous for; he has evidently opted to use R&B as a backdrop instead of as a primary element. On this record, he leaves most of the singing to OVO affiliate PARTYNEXTDOOR, who lends his vocals to multiple tracks. Other collaborators include his mentor Lil Wayne and trap legend Travi$ Scott.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late starts off oozing with power but loses momentum after PARTYNEXTDOOR’s moody interlude. While the LP is certainly cohesive, the slow pace and constant repetition of particular thematic elements make it a difficult project to sit through. Lacking variety and energy, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is not holistically an engaging listen. However, that being said, the songs are remarkably strong on an individual basis.
Drake no longer feels compelled to go out of his way to impress anybody, and quite frankly, he doesn’t have to. Given the success he’s found with If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake has proven that he is fully capable of pulling off any aesthetic he so chooses. The 17-track LP certainly fulfilled its intended purpose as anticipation for his upcoming album, Views From The 6, has reached an all-time high. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is a bold and compelling release that serves as a fascinating development in the evolution of Drake’s sound and point of view as an artist.
STANDOUTS: “Jungle,” “Star67” & “Now & Forever”