By: Anthony Danilov
On Drake’s latest album, we see a Rap MC suffer from overproduction. A rapper that constantly promises to top whatever he’s put out last and deliver what his fans want, yet, fails to do so. There begs the question, does Aubrey actually know what his fans want?
Fresh off his “It’s All A Blur” Tour, Drake has finally delivered his highly-anticipated and partially delayed 8th studio album For All The Dogs. Back in July, there were already whispers of an album that was set to release soon. Drake held off saying “just a couple more weeks guys.” Those couple more weeks actually ended up being a couple more months in reality. While Drake does tend to fall under the category of the artist that people love to hate, Drake’s fan base is currently one of the biggest in the hip-hop genre so he’ll always have the privilege of dropping as many albums as he wants and garnering enormous amounts of streams from them.
With promise and co-signs of this being Drake’s magnum opus and the return of “Old Drake”, it’s safe to say For All The Dogs doesn’t quite seem to get there or even want to live up to that status.
The 23 track album opens with “Virginia Beach” that surprisingly samples Frank Ocean’s “Wiseman”; a pleasant surprise to hear. One thing Drake does tend to nail down is his intros and this feels like a great introduction to this album sonically. In regards to the lyrical content, as well as for the rest of the tracks on this album, Drake finds ways to become even more unrelatable, and this seems to be the major factor that keeps listeners from enjoying this album. On almost all the tracks, while Drake can master storytelling, the stories he tells lack any sort of true substance for his fans to actually care.
The album was led with the surprise single “Slime You Out” with his fellow singer & superstar-ex SZA; a duo that didn’t seem like it ever had a chance of happening given their long-standing feud of non-stop shots over songs and features that date back all the way to ‘08.
The tracks “Amen” & “7969 Santa” highlight Teezo Touchdown as a feature artist, who has been having quite the year. Fresh off his debut release, and his feature on Travis Scott’s ‘Utopia’, his vocals have been unmatched and unique. Chief Keef makes an unprecedented appearance as a sample of his hit song, “I Don’t Like” while also makes an appearance later on the track “All The Parties” However, there are a lot of instances where Drake seems to suffocate the track. On “First Person Shooter” during J. Cole’s verse, Drake ends up inserting a random beat switch into the song, delivering bars that neither contribute anything new nor make the song any better. Something he’ll tend to do often.
Drake is trying to keep up with the trends but just sounding out of place. “IDGAF ” featuring Yeat is a perfect example of that. The track, clearly initially made to be a single for the feature artist, sees Drake essentially doing his best impression of the sound Yeat has created and it ends up just sounding imitative. Instead of using the opportunity of expounding upon the new sounds that emerge over the years, he tends to sour them with any hints of inspiration severely lacking. Where the album stands out, I believe, would be the production.
Despite the impressive production, there lies an issue with Drake in this stage of his career. After being in the industry for over a decade and reaching every accomplishment possible for a rapper of his stature, he seems to lack self-awareness about the connection between his lifestyle and his audience.
One of the draws that thrusted Drake into mainstream hip-hop was his approach to relationships and emotional vulnerability as a man. An aspect that had been a rarity within the genre, but as Drake passed more pinnacles of success, his relatability depleted the more he’d lived a less obtainable lifestyle. Within his music, Drake does not cease to make complaints and make inappropriate comments towards younger women and his ex-lovers. On the track “Calling For You” with frequent collaborator 21 Savage, he talks about women in college and how they’re young and naive with lyrics such as; “Shawty still young, she don’t know the classics.”
Despite some criticism, credit is due where it’s due and there are songs on here that prove that Drake can actually live up to his name if he wants to. “8am in Charlotte”, arguably the best track on this album, has Drake placed on a beat produced by Conductor, the hip hop producer that primarily works with the rap collective Griselda, where he ends up delivering some clever & inspirational lines that refer back to his rise to success, and that he has not forgotten his roots. Of course, in the end, it’s shoved in the midst of tracks filled with braggadocio and flaunting of his relationships, riches, and power. Drake knew what he was doing, releasing his song with SZA as the first look into the project. It made big headlines, no matter the opinion on the song, and got people talking.
Tracks like “Rich Baby Daddy”, a song that truly would have made a better single for the summer season, sees SZA once more, and his tour mate, newfound friend, rising star Sexyy Red, and “Away From Home” featuring Lil Yachty, deliver a sound that you can’t help but dance and sing along to. Each member of the track provides what they need to and don’t overstay their welcome..
With his tour concluding and this album’s release, it was clear that Drake was heading towards some sort of hiatus. Since then, the rapper has made clear that he’ll be taking a one year break from the scene to focus on his health.. Going through all his eras on the tour and leaving his fans with another classic would have been a great note to leave on. The highs are highs and the lows are lows. Even with all the tracks mentioned, there’s still plenty others that have failed to inspire me to write anything about, and that’s what I personally recommend if you decide to give the new Drake album a listen. Take what you like and feel free to leave the rest. Bloating is standard with any Drake project at this point. It’s unfortunate that this won’t be an album that goes down in the books for Graham, but at least he’s given his audience enough music to leave them satisfied for a year or so.
Final Verdict: 6/10