Drake is well aware of how famous he is. He’s also aware of how vulnerable he appears to the internet world, and there hasn’t been a rapper that capitalized off their weak points quite like him. The opening track from his surprise release will tell you just that. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is heavily touted as a mixtape but not only did it make it’s official debut on iTunes, it’s cohesive enough to be an official LP. The offering gives long time listeners a look at a more aggressive Aubrey; one that shamelessly acknowledges his fame and doesn’t shy away from shining light on his enemies in a not so subtle way. It’s a release that says “you better get used to me” to naysayers. For new fans, it’s more of a welcoming piece of work that will catch them up on what he has become over the course of a successful five year run.
On “Legend,” Drake is reflective on his fame, and the what ifs of his demise. The opener samples Ginuwine’s “So Anxious” for a rich backdrop while Drake lets off on the importance of his presence in the game. As much as he’s celebrated, he’s hated just as much. “Energy” shines a glimmering light on his frustrations. “I got rap niggas that I gotta act like I like but my actin’ days are over, fuck them niggas for life,” he raps. The more famous he becomes, the more we see this side of him. Every Drake project needs a club banger. Look no further than “10 Bands.” And while the Boi-1da —produced cut will hold plenty of weight in a party atmosphere, it’s “Know Yourself” that will bring the energy. “Running through the six with my woes” is working it’s way up the “YOLO” river. We don’t even know what it fully means, but it’s cool. Further more it just proves how powerful Drake’s influence can be.
This is the first project that’s light on Drake vulnerability and there aren’t any complaints in that. When he isn’t reflecting on failed relationships, he’s most likely focused on being above the hate and conquering. On “Used To” with Lil Wayne, he shows that although he’s made it this far he isn’t quite comfortable in his position yet but never fully serenaders to his doubts as evident on the album’s draw-in “6PM In New York.” Brilliant dig at Tyga aside, he also puts his career in perspective and admits insecurities. “Lately I feel the hate is eating away at my confidence, they scream out my failures and whisper my accomplishments” he spews, but in the same breath welcomes all challengers.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is rumored to have been released in order to fulfill contractual obligations at Cash Money, which could mean it’s throw away material. While Lil Wayne is currently embroiled in a legal war with Birdman, new music from the camp is a good distraction. The album is packed with solid production and really serves as a pallet for Drake’s new aggressive sound. Drake and aggressive don’t usually fit in one sentence, but it’s aggressive on Drake terms. It’s a frustrated journal entry made public.
Standouts: “You & The 6,” “Energy,” “6PM In New York,” “10 Bands,” “No Tellin”