A Selective and Biased Review of 'If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late' by Drake

I’ve written a lot about Drake in Her Campus articles, alluding to his mastery of the pop-rap genre in as many articles as I could. I have not, however, devoted an entire piece to the majesty of this actor-turned-rapper from Toronto. Of his several studio LP’s, I hold the popular opinion that If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is the best exemplification of Drake’s smooth, confessional yet grandiose, style. It also happens to be almost the one year anniversary of the album’s release so I wanted to celebrate the genius that is this record. Drake dropped his fourth mixtape on February 13, 2015 with no prior announcement. Though not as substantial of a popularized hit as some of his other projects, this mixtape was critically received as arguably the best of his work.

As clarification, the difference between a mixtape and a studio album has shifted over the years. It remains fuzzy, but it’s generally agreed upon that in the rap and hip-hop communities the mixtape is a way to circumnavigate studio rules and still be able to release a full length, original project. The departure mixtapes make from studio albums are their goals. Mixtapes tend to be about exposure, not necessarily sales. Another popular and well-known mixtape is Acid Rap by Chance The Rapper, which he gave away for free on the internet.

The first three songs of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late lead into the project with no question as to what the point of this mixtape is. It starts out with “Legend,” a classic declaration of preeminence right as the record drops. It features the notable lines, “Right or wrong, I'mma write my wrongs/They can't live this long/You don't know where you're gonna go/I got this shit mapped out strong.” Drake is reflective in his lyrics, even as he asserts his dominance. Produced by PARTYNEXTDOOR, it is a catchy entrance into the album.

The following track is “Energy,” produced by Boi-1da & OB O'Brien, and has the hypnotic beat Drake songs are known for. A direct address of his haters, the hook says, “I got enemies, got a lot of enemies/Got a lot of people tryna’ drain me of this energy.” He uses the song to express his frustration with all his “enemies” who are trying to mess with his game, but that ultimately his prowess is beyond their reach, “I hear fairy tales ‘bout how they gon’ run up on me/Well, run up when you see me, then, and we gon’ see.”

The next song in the sequence is “10 Bands,” my personal favorite Drake song of all time. Produced by Sevn Thomas and Boi-1da, the simple hook and repetitive beat come right out of the previous track. “10 Bands” exemplifies the ridiculousness of spending almost a whole album trying to prove oneself as a force both in the music industry and, specifically, the rap genre.

Drake is often spoken of disparagingly in terms of not being a real rapper, of the rumors about ghost-writing, and his supposed bow down to the commercial pop market. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is, I think, Drake’s claim to his throne. He is a pop star with actual rap credentials and this album is his defiant move to his specific place in the music industry.

 

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