"Drake's new mixtape 'If You're Reading This, Its Too Late' speaks to artist's evolution "


Album: If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late

Artist: Drake

Label: Cash Money Records

Grade: A-

Release date: Feb. 13

Drake is fully aware he is a music icon, but beyond all the fame, he is a pure musician.

On his newest project, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, Drake attempts to differentiate between his own larger-than-life musical persona and his artistry.

On Thursday night, six years after So Far Gone was released, Drake released his album-length mixtape If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late without warning.

When an artist as high profile as Drake releases any sort of music, it’s bound to be analyzed to the nth-degree.

The day after the release, major news outlets, music magazines and social media sites were aflame trying to make sense of this ambitious, 17-track project.

For some, this was the same-old introspective Drake. His raps either center on dealing with fame (“Energy”) or finding women to sleep with (“Madonna”).

For these critics, this notion is true in a sense.

“I got two mortgages, 30 million in total,” he sings in “Energy.”

“Pilled up, filled up damn girl / I’ll be getting back to you for sure, man man,” he raps on “Madonna.”

These songs feel like a recycled part of Drake’s earlier personas as similar lyricism across projects makes Drake’s work sometimes meld together into a single, cohesive artistic identity.

Even the first song, “Legend,” is Drake’s ode to his own crown.

For others, this mixtape marks a transitory point in Drake’s lyricism and career.

If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late signifies a pointed departure from Drake’s typically misogynistic and materialistic lyrics – overall, the mixtape deals with these topics in a more substantive manner.

The lighter, pre-fame lyrics of Take Care and So Far Gone have been replaced with the heavy and oppressive solitude and personal distance of celebrity.

Drake is open and honest about his personal struggles with mortality and fame behind closed doors in a way that colors this mixtape in dark shades.

“The first mil gonna change you / Change for the better, hit it then dead her / That’s my vendetta, keep this shit together,” he raps on “Star67.”

This is what Drake wants the listeners to feel – this tension between worldwide stardom and remaining an independent artist. This is best highlighted on standout songs like “Know Yourself,” and “Used To” when Drake tries to push the most crippling aspects of fame off his chest, and into the public spotlight.

“They never told me when you take the crown / It gon’ take some gettin’ used to / New friends all in their old feelings now / They don’t love you like they used to.”

Lyrics aside, the dark overall mood of the album is highlighted through the gorgeous low-end of the album.

Producer-in-residence Noah Shebib’s precise, heavy bass scores dominate almost every track. On “6 Man” the rumbling bass and drum rolls are glossed to a tee, matching Drake’s lyrical twists flawlessly. Additionally, guest producer PARTYNEXTDOOR is also featured with memorable, symphonic “Wednesday Night Interlude.”

Whether this mixtape was a statement of intent or a one-off musical experiment, Drake’s music is genuine.

The music is ripe with questions about celebrity, artistic veracity and human mortality. The sounds are diverse and tentative. His experiments with his flow and delivery often feel like a master doing warm-ups.

If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, as a whole, is a promising step forward for Drake in musical maturity. With the promise of this mixtape, Drake, hopefully, is just honing his talent for his upcoming LP: Views From The 6.

Drake ultimately tells us what the music is about.

On “Jungle,” Drake sings about self-discovery, “I’m all over the place, I can’t sit in one place / I’m not ashamed at all / Still findin’ myself.”

email: arts@ubspectrum.com