If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake
Drake’s done it again, but this time it’s low-key.
The 28-year-old Canadian rapper recently released a surprise 17-song track list called If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. A large number of Drake fans, however, are scrambling to rationalize whether this set piece qualifies as an album or just a little something to hold people over before his spring 2015 release of the much-anticipated studio album Views from the 6.
Nonetheless, it’s undeniable that Too Late displays Drake’s lyrical prowess with both rapping and singing. Let me just say from the get-go that none of the songs in Too Late are party material. Rather, the mixtape is more reflective – its mood is sullen, presenting Drake at his rawest and most vulnerable state.
The mixtape’s opening song, “Legend,” which samples from “So Anxious” by Ginuwine, begins with a self-declaration: “Oh my God, Oh my God, if I die I’m a legend” where Drake proclaims his lyrical ability will make a “n***a backtrack.” This theme-setting track is accompanied by 16 songs that attempt to define and solidify what it means to hold the title as the “real 6 god.”
For instance, Too Late makes it clear that Drake’s journey to his legendary status has cost him a few old friends while earning him a number of rivals. In his song “Energy,” Drake states, “I got a lot of people trying to drain me of this energy.” In the track “Used To,” featuring Lil Wayne, he explains that all his friends, new and old, are “all in their old feelings now, they don’t love you like they used to.” Interestingly enough, Drake doesn’t attempt to find solace in the arms of an ex, nor does he rap about the girl(s) that got away. Instead, he dismisses his romantic interests: “My ex asked me where I’m moving, I said, ‘On to better things’” (“10 Bands”) while depending only on the one woman in his life that has been there from him since the beginning: his momma.
In “You & the 6,” Drake paints a picture of conversations with his mother where he openly complains about his enemies and associates, explaining the roots of his nervousness with predatory journalism and scheming women. In the song, Drake sums up his grievances: “I sing the hooks, they sing along with me, momma. What more they want from me, momma?” alluding to the number of features he’s had recently.
All in all, by taking the perspective of a veteran in a world where “rappers are liars and their women are deceitful” (“Ransom”), Too Late lets the listeners know that the only person one can trust is themselves. Drake makes this clear in his track “Used To” with the line, “Only see the truth when I’m staring in the mirror.” Thanks to the mixtape’s role as a reflection on Drake’s journey from the bottom of the rap scene to where he is now, its pace rarely elevates past a scuttle. With a few exceptions, such as the tracks “6God,” “6PM in New York,” “6Man” and essentially every other song with a 6 in its title, the entire project feels relatively slow from start to finish.
Despite the quality of the production, it may likely take a few listens before you start liking the project for more than its beats and start appreciating the lyrical content. While it is clearly not his best work, Drake’s surprise album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is definitely worth a listen, or two, or three, or six.