weekend

New album misses the mark



‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’

C+

Well, looks like Drake pulled a Beyoncé.

The rapper surprised the world with a mixtape Feb. 12 titled “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” along with a supplemental short film, “Jungle.”

Drake fans, myself included, have been waiting patiently for some new work — barring the occasional SoundCloud track — since his third studio album, “Nothing was the Same” was released in 2013.

Though it’s not “Views from the 6” — the official album we were promised — it’s something. And something, I guess, is better than nothing.

Before I diss this project, you deserve full disclosure: I am a ?“Drake stan.”

I mean it. I love Drake more than most things in my life. I went to his joint concert with Lil Wayne this summer and quite literally weeped when he performed “Marvin’s Room.”

I love this man. But that doesn’t preclude him from getting called on some weak moves.

I will admit I’m no hip hop head. I’m just a girl who loves artists that get on a track and tear it up. Whether that means the feminist message of owning your sexuality and still being the best in the game like Nicki Minaj or the hood diary entries of Kendrick Lamar, I believe in music that makes a statement, one way or another.

Drake isn’t making a statement on this mixtape.

He isn’t pushing the boundaries of the genre or entering new territories of his own artistry. If anything, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” not only hearkens back to Drizzy’s earliest work but also follows the inexpensive trend of releasing music with little to no prior promotion.

Let me begin by saying, as a mixtape, it’s a solid piece of work. It builds off of the foundation laid by “Nothing Was the Same” as a sort of natural progression.

The sound, in true Drake form, has moments of pure vulnerability that give the tape the lift it so sorely would have needed otherwise. Tracks like “You and the 6” are reflective in a way that reminds listeners of his Grammy Award-winning “Take Care.”

The song takes us inside Drake’s troubled relationship with his father. “Having conversations with Momma, we start talkin’ ‘bout Dad ... / He made mistakes throughout his life that he still doesn’t accept.”

The song also delves into his feelings of being an outsider in the industry he’s fighting to remain on top of. “I used to get teased for being black / And now I’m here and I’m not black enough / ‘Cause I’m not acting tough or making stories up ‘bout where I’m actually from.”

Though the track comes towards the end of the mixtape, it is a refreshing change of pace.

For the most part, though, this is 17 tracks of pure trash talk. Which, given the circumstances, I can’t say I blame him for.

What else is a mixtape for if not to reassert your street credit? Not to mention, amidst power struggles at Cash Money, the threat of Drizzy’s long-time mentor and friend Lil Wayne leaving the game, this is prime time for Drake to proclaim his dominance. And he pulls no punches.

Throughout “If You’re Reading This,” Drake makes sure other rappers who have reportedly come for him in recent months — Diddy, Kendrick and even Cash Money labelmate, Tyga — get the disses they deserved.

With that being said, there are a lot of fillers on this mixtape. There were plenty of moments where I was ready to hit a quick skip. There were songs that neither moved the momentum forward nor set it back. They’re not bangers, they’re not quotable, they just are.

Though it didn’t leave me wowed, overall, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” sets the stage for an excitingly aggressive fourth studio album, one that reminds us why Drake is our favorite meme-worthy, listen-to-on-a-Sunday-after-a-breakup, sweater-wearing, sensitive rapper.

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