By Brier Stucky
If Youre Reading This Its Too Late has had one of the most interesting releases in recent memory, combining the effects of an unexpected release with controversy between Drake and his label Cash Money. Because of its surprise release, with no official singles or news about the album, many have speculated that Drake’s latest is a means for the artist to complete his four album contract with the label and is just a compilation of songs rather than an album. Whether it’s an album, mixtape, or compilation, the fact is that the media buzz surrounded If Youre Reading Thisis far more interesting than the project itself.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that it seems to be a handful of tracks thrown together rather than a specifically crafted work. Sure, the album delivers its share of enjoyable tracks, but it’s difficult to shake the notion that one is listening to a contractually-obligated mixtape of sorts rather than listening to a true Drake album. While this does bode well for Drake’s creative freedom in the future, this project is a mixed bag containing a few gems, but mostly forgettable songs.
For those who don’t care for Drake’s more somber, R&B tracks, If You’re Reading Thismay be more enjoyable as most songs feature the rapper over more aggressive beats. The track “6 God”, a track released last year, shows off Drake’s more energetic side, as he raps in a higher register over a simplistic trap beat. However, like much of the album, the instrumentation feels thin and underdeveloped, and is further detracted by poor sound mixing. On many of the album’s 17 tracks, Drake’s vocals and the beat don’t seem to mix, but rather feel like Drake’s raps are thrown on top of the beats without any overlap, reminiscent of mixtape rather than an album.
However, Drake’s latest also delivers its share of solid tracks, namely the early hit “Energy”. It’s a simple track, featuring a beat consisting of a repetitive piano riff and a catchy trap beat. Similar to his 2014 hit “0 to 100”, Drake benefits from a minimalistic beat that allows him to craft an infectious flow and sound that is not easily forgotten. The track “Know Yourself” is another excellent track, with slower, atmospheric instrumentation as well as Drake’s signature mixing of singing and rapping that gives the song a distinct nocturnal feel. The hook is one of the catchiest Drake has ever made, and the additional instrumentation brought in during the chorus makes it a true standout on the album.
Unfortunately, most of the album is rather boring, with the album’s moody vibe and somber atmosphere beginning to weigh on the listener near the half way point. The album’s middle is a particular drag, especially the two tracks featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR, which feel like throwaways from Drake’s 2011 album Take Care
. In fact, the album’s second half is mostly worth skipping, with the exception of superb “You & The 6”, a track near the end of the album. The lyrics’ honesty and emotions makes the song the most interesting on the album. Most of If Youre Reading This
features Drake talking trash and rapping about his place in the rap game. “You & The 6” showcases Drake at his best, rapping about his parents, his mother in the first verse and his father in the second. This track would be far better suited on a more complete album.
If Youre Reading This makes a far better news story than an album, which is disappointing from one of today’s biggest artists. Hopefully, Drake’s planned album Views From the 6 is still slated for a 2015 release, and will be a better effort from the rapper. Until then, the handful of decent tracks from this project will have to hold over fans until his next release.
Drake’s latest is an overstuffed, boring, and ultimately a poor effort.
- A few great songs
- “You & the 6”, “Know Yourself”, “Energy”
- Far too long
- Many boring, unoriginal tracks
- Pointless featured artists
- Feels like a compilation of old songs rather than an album