Little did the world know, a supporting actor for a Canadian teen show would snowball into one of the greatest hip-hop artists of the new millennium.
Aubrey “Drake” Graham, a rapper and singer from Toronto, has secured his place in the music industry since he dropped his first EP, “So Far Gone,” in 2009.
Drake’s ability to blend the worlds of hip-hop and R&B has been effective in expanding his fan base to both male and female audiences, releasing three successful albums and various singles through Young Money/Cash Money Records.
Not only did Drake debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, but he is also tied with The Beatles with 14 simultaneous hits on the Billboard Top 100 Hits.
Drake unexpectedly released a mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” on Feb. 12, which was so successful it practically serves as his fourth studio album. It is a preview to his new album “Views From the 6,” set to be released later this year.
Drake has always been an artist with no emotional restraint, rapping about past relationships and subject matter rarely touched on by other hip-hop artists.
“If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” reflects the emotional and tough sides of Drake more effectively than any of his past projects.
We get a taste of a newly acquired confidence in “Legend,” the first track of the album, where Drake explains how he has already made a legendary mark on the industry.
The album really picks up with the second song “Energy,” which has been one of the most well-received songs thus far. Here, we catch a glimpse of a paranoid Drake; isolated by his fame and surrounded by people he cannot trust.
The third song “10 Bands” is one of my favorite songs off the mixtape. Drake has always had the ability to craft an outstanding party jam and this is definitely something to listen to before going out for the night.
He continues with “Know Yourself,” and probably the most popular hook of the entire album, which revolves around the phrase “running through the 6 with my woes.” The “6” refers to Toronto’s area codes, and woes to travelling around his hometown with his crew of friends.
The beat shifts its key right before the chorus, which is a great move in the song and changes the mood entirely, from dark to optimistic.
Every beat and flow in this album feels a little sluggish compared to the rest of Drake’s work. It is almost as if some songs need a faster tempo in order for the listener to stay interested.
The album’s energy picks back up with the song “Star 67,” a song modeled after a message on an answering machine. The beat includes various sound clips you would hear on a voicemail, adding to the the phone motif as Drake takes us through his recent journey through success.
Drake’s sensitive side continues to show in the song “Preach,” which features PARTYNEXTDOOR, a fellow Canadian artist and one of Drake’s closest collaborators.
This song has one of the most complex beats on the album and really takes you on a journey by itself. The following interlude, also featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR, provides the perfect break from the album and really nails the whimsical, dreamlike aesthetic.
The tempo picks back up with “Used To,” featuring Lil Wayne, a voice rarely heard in recent years. The song features an evolved Wayne with a new voice but same metaphoric style.
There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the lyrics in the next song, “6 God,” where Drake takes shots at label-mate Tyga and his rumored relationship with the underage Kylie Jenner.
There is no proof of an intimate relationship between the 25-year-old Tyga and 17-year-old Jenner.
The album stays rather uninteresting until the song “You & The 6,” which is a thoughtful ode to his mother, Sandi Graham, who raised him as a single parent. Drake takes us through several issues he faced growing up and how his mother helped him.
Overall, the timing for this project was perfect. Ever since Beyonce’s last release, the idea of dropping music without warning has been working for other well-known artists.
In comparison to his previous album “Nothing Was The Same,” this new collection is just as diverse, with heavy and slow songs.
It shows us a new, charismatic Drake who holds nothing back. He even touches on his career as an actor on Degrassi, a topic he seldom mentions.
If this is only a preface to another album, then what is soon to come is surely on a whole new level for Drake, and the entire hip-hop industry.
4 out of 5 stars