In the Rotation: Drake surprises fans with new mixtape


BY JOHN WYATT — SPORTS SECTION EDITOR

Besides maybe Kanye West, there are very few rappers that are as polarizing as Drake. Depending on who you talk to, chances are you’ll either get a joke about him crying over a girl and/or Degrassi, or they’ll argue to the death that he is the greatest in the rap game. Drake seems to exist between absolutes. He’s simultaneously the problem and the solution to hip-hop in the 21st century. He’s been called “soft” by his haters who complain about the fusing of R&B and hip-hop while simultaneously heralded as a pioneer by those that praise the new sound he crafted within the two genres.

His sophomore album, Take Care, proved that Drake can not only drop some impressive bars, but also make radio hits while doing it. Even more so than Kendrick Lamar, Drake knows how to make a radio single and still keep his credentials as one of rap’s elites which explains why Drake is arguably the most popular rapper today.

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GOOGLE IMAGES FAIR USE Drake’s newest mixtape cover features sparse writing on a white background, highlighting Drake’s claim to creating serious content.

 

On Feb. 13, Drake pulled a Beyoncé and dropped a surprise “mixtape” on iTunes, consequently sending the Internet into a frenzy.

His fourth project, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, shows a much more mature Drake, one who is completely aware of his status as rap’s newest juggernaut.

To make sure you pick up on that, he opens with the track “Legend,” where the Toronto rapper sings a pretty simple mantra over a slow, choppy trap beat: “Oh my god, oh my god/If I die I’m a legend.”

On “Energy,” Drake continues with the swagger from “Legend,” rapping about the target on his back from his legendary status. “I got enemies, got a lot of enemies/Got a lot of people tryna drain me of my energy.”

Drake’s flows and rhymes harken back to the old days of “mixtape Drake” when the rapper wasn’t trying to shoehorn himself into any type of persona and was simply just Drake. There’s also a bit of a resurrection of his southern influence. Between his flows and the beats, there’s a certain bounce throughout this album that makes it even more accessible than some of his radio-geared tracks.

One thing Drake always exceled at was being flexible over any sort of beat. He switches back and forth between rapping and singing (and sometimes something in between) effortlessly. The production also lends itself to this sense of ease and flexibility that he shows throughout his delivery. Most of the beats are dark, moody trap beats that allow Drake to experiment with several different flows and styles of delivery. Each song has its own identity, but somehow the project feels incredibly cohesive.

The features are pretty sparse on this album, but they feel much more conscious on Drake’s part. PARTYNEXTDOOR, fellow OVO (Drake’s record label) member and Toronto singer, steals the show in terms of features. He appears on the song “Preach,” where he sings/raps and at times wails through a thick layer of auto tune, until Drake comes in with some rapid-fire flows. PARTYNEXTDOOR really nails it, though, when he is given his own three-and-a-half minute track on “Wednesday Night Interlude.” The song itself is incredibly hazy, with some very slow, minimalist trap beats going on in the background. PARTYNEXTDOOR’s voice echoes all over the place, dipping in and out of auto-tune. It’s a perfect example of the R&B sound Drake and his OVO label crafted and are pushing into mainstream pop/R&B/rap.

Partner-in-crime and mentor Lil Wayne makes an appearance as well. In his typical fashion, the Young Money poster child brings his best when he raps along with his mentee Drake. The two continue the same trash talking chemistry that makes the pair such a fun one to listen to. Young Chicago rapper Travis Scott also makes an appearance on the album, although his verse is a lot shorter and mellower than other typical Scott verses.

For the Drake haters, a lot of the familiar gripes against him are still here. He still sings or raps about some random girl he met/dated/felt rejected by. He still gets emotional on tracks. He still talks about how much he loves his mom. On “Jungle,” Drake sings some rather high-pitched passages over a very soft, piano driven beat. He wails about loneliness, the search for a soulmate, and his former love for an unnamed female (“I done did everything to her/She forgave me for everything, this is a forever thing”).

But for every sappy bar about some girl or every time he breaks out into his heartbroken love ballads, he is just as quick to remind you he is one of the leaders of the new school of rap music. This brings us to the album’s closer, “6PM in New York.”

Drake became notorious for his time-related tracks where he freestyles effortlessly over beats produced by Boi-1da. In this track, Drake spits off several braggadocios lines on and off the beat with ease. This line is full of shots at any Drake haters. In one line, he specifically references Young Money label mate Tyga, who openly dissed Drake in an interview with Vibe magazine (“I heard a little little homie talking reckless in Vibe … Oh, you tried/It’s so childish calling my name on the world stage/You need to act your age and not your girl’s age”). For those that are unaware, Tyga is rumored to date 17-year-old Kylie Jenner of Kardashian fame.

Drake effectively calls out any haters time and time again on this track (“Lately I feel the haters eatin’ away my confidence/They scream out my failures and whisper my accomplishments”). It’s this last line in particular that sums up Drake best. He’s that rapper that you hate to love and love to hate. Most people do a little of both at the same time. His talent and ability to create catchy, engaging hooks and flows are abundant and unquestionable, yet in nearly every comments section on the Internet there are people taking shots at him. While the argument about whether he is the bane or a pioneer of hip-hop remains up for debate among listeners, the fact that he continues to succeed so tremendously for so long (despite all the hate) may give credence to the claim that Drake is one of rap’s very best. If nothing else, this project is a showcase of his abilities to deliver catchy hooks, braggadocios, and/or emotional bars which solidifies his position as an influential figure in rap music.

Besides maybe Kanye West, there are very few rappers that are as polarizing as Drake. Depending on who you talk to, chances are you’ll either get a joke about him crying over a girl and/or Degrassi, or they’ll argue to the death that he is the greatest in the rap game. Drake seems to exist between absolutes. He’s simultaneously the problem and the solution to hip-hop in the 21st century. He’s been called “soft” by his haters who complain about the fusing of R&B and hip-hop while simultaneously heralded as a pioneer by those that praise the new sound he crafted within the two genres.

His sophomore album, Take Care, proved that Drake can not only drop some impressive bars, but also make radio hits while doing it. Even more so than Kendrick Lamar, Drake knows how to make a radio single and still keep his credentials as one of rap’s elites which explains why Drake is arguably the most popular rapper today.

On Feb. 13, Drake pulled a Beyoncé and dropped a surprise “mixtape” on iTunes, consequently sending the Internet into a frenzy.

His fourth project, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, shows a much more mature Drake, one who is completely aware of his status as rap’s newest juggernaut.

To make sure you pick up on that, he opens with the track “Legend,” where the Toronto rapper sings a pretty simple mantra over a slow, choppy trap beat: “Oh my god, oh my god/If I die I’m a legend.”

On “Energy,” Drake continues with the swagger from “Legend,” rapping about the target on his back from his legendary status. “I got enemies, got a lot of enemies/Got a lot of people tryna drain me of my energy.”

Drake’s flows and rhymes harken back to the old days of “mixtape Drake” when the rapper wasn’t trying to shoehorn himself into any type of persona and was simply just Drake. There’s also a bit of a resurrection of his southern influence. Between his flows and the beats, there’s a certain bounce throughout this album that makes it even more accessible than some of his radio-geared tracks.

One thing Drake always exceled at was being flexible over any sort of beat. He switches back and forth between rapping and singing (and sometimes something in between) effortlessly. The production also lends itself to this sense of ease and flexibility that he shows throughout his delivery. Most of the beats are dark, moody trap beats that allow Drake to experiment with several different flows and styles of delivery. Each song has its own identity, but somehow the project feels incredibly cohesive.

The features are pretty sparse on this album, but they feel much more conscious on Drake’s part. PARTYNEXTDOOR, fellow OVO (Drake’s record label) member and Toronto singer, steals the show in terms of features. He appears on the song “Preach,” where he sings/raps and at times wails through a thick layer of auto tune, until Drake comes in with some rapid-fire flows. PARTYNEXTDOOR really nails it, though, when he is given his own three-and-a-half minute track on “Wednesday Night Interlude.” The song itself is incredibly hazy, with some very slow, minimalist trap beats going on in the background. PARTYNEXTDOOR’s voice echoes all over the place, dipping in and out of auto-tune. It’s a perfect example of the R&B sound Drake and his OVO label crafted and are pushing into mainstream pop/R&B/rap.

Partner-in-crime and mentor Lil Wayne makes an appearance as well. In his typical fashion, the Young Money poster child brings his best when he raps along with his mentee Drake. The two continue the same trash talking chemistry that makes the pair such a fun one to listen to. Young Chicago rapper Travis Scott also makes an appearance on the album, although his verse is a lot shorter and mellower than other typical Scott verses.

For the Drake haters, a lot of the familiar gripes against him are still here. He still sings or raps about some random girl he met/dated/felt rejected by. He still gets emotional on tracks. He still talks about how much he loves his mom. On “Jungle,” Drake sings some rather high-pitched passages over a very soft, piano driven beat. He wails about loneliness, the search for a soulmate, and his former love for an unnamed female (“I done did everything to her/She forgave me for everything, this is a forever thing”).

But for every sappy bar about some girl or every time he breaks out into his heartbroken love ballads, he is just as quick to remind you he is one of the leaders of the new school of rap music. This brings us to the album’s closer, “6PM in New York.”

Drake became notorious for his time-related tracks where he freestyles effortlessly over beats produced by Boi-1da. In this track, Drake spits off several braggadocios lines on and off the beat with ease. This line is full of shots at any Drake haters. In one line, he specifically references Young Money label mate Tyga, who openly dissed Drake in an interview with Vibe magazine (“I heard a little little homie talking reckless in Vibe … Oh, you tried/It’s so childish calling my name on the world stage/You need to act your age and not your girl’s age”). For those that are unaware, Tyga is rumored to date 17-year-old Kylie Jenner of Kardashian fame.

Drake effectively calls out any haters time and time again on this track (“Lately I feel the haters eatin’ away my confidence/They scream out my failures and whisper my accomplishments”). It’s this last line in particular that sums up Drake best. He’s that rapper that you hate to love and love to hate. Most people do a little of both at the same time. His talent and ability to create catchy, engaging hooks and flows are abundant and unquestionable, yet in nearly every comments section on the Internet there are people taking shots at him. While the argument about whether he is the bane or a pioneer of hip-hop remains up for debate among listeners, the fact that he continues to succeed so tremendously for so long (despite all the hate) may give credence to the claim that Drake is one of rap’s very best. If nothing else, this project is a showcase of his abilities to deliver catchy hooks, braggadocios, and/or emotional bars which solidifies his position as an influential figure in rap music.


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