Release Date: Feb 13, 2015
Record label: Cash Money
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Welcome to The 6, where the heat is on, but the beats are always ice-cold. Since Drake set up shop in this dystopic, WOE-eat-WOE version of his hometown in spring 2014, his music has become a product of its new environment. The number was first emblazoned on the artwork of his chilly 'Days in The East' SoundCloud loosie last April, and the boiled-down shorthand for Toronto's two main area codes has since become central to Drake new identity.
Death is the only certainty for rap dynasties. One year it’s "All About the Benjamins" and the next it’s Lincolns and Washingtons. Cash Money Records has escaped the fate of the Roc-A-Fellas and Bad Boys thanks to the enduring genius of Bryan "Baby" Williams, AKA Birdman. Birdman’s business acumen and A&R smarts carried Cash Money through three distinct eras, from the late '90s Hot Boys heyday through Lil Wayne’s mid- to late-2000s bid for "Best Rapper Alive" to the current YMCMB incarnation featuring Drake and Nicki Minaj.
On Thursday night, Drake did what is increasingly becoming known as “a Beyoncé” and dropped, without warning, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, the album that fans were expecting to be Views From the 6. That album is still mooted to be coming out later this year. Meanwhile, the follow-up to 2013’s Nothing Was the Same is this 17-track – that’s 17 tracks, not 10 tracks and seven skits – collection, with much of the production courtesy of Drake mainstays Noah “40” Shebib and Matthew Jehu Samuels aka Boi-1da.
If you’re reading this it’s too late, as in “this review is absolutely too late. ” The current memetic status of Drizzy’s “cryptic” title has already established an organized cloud of modern re-constructions that read anything from “if you’re reading this bring chipotle” to “if you’re reading this so is the NSA. ” And, even though the title is a nod toward fragmented time (the moment of “reading the work” is lost to the infinite potentiality of hype), it serves to demonstrate that it will always be “too late” for us (the listener), perhaps since often we don’t even know what we’re reading in the first place.
Whether it’s actually an album or a mixtape, Drake’s semi-surprise release If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late has made a splash in the landscape of early 2015, a year already marked with so much great music it’s hard to keep up, and for good reason. The Drake of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is a rapper at the peak of his popularity and talent, dropping suave, brag-laden verses in the same breath that he taunts and bites back at those who’ve done him wrong. It’s a familiar hip-hop narrative that has basically defined the genre for three decades, the difference here being that Drake, unlike his equally braggadocious contemporaries, isn’t posturing when he says he’s on top of the mountain.
When Drake’s 17-track mixtape landed on iTunes Thursday night, Time Out London took the accompanying handwritten letter the Toronto MC posted online to the British Institute of Graphologists for an extremely thorough analysis that concluded, among other things, his handwriting demonstrates “a curious mix of defiance, originality, hedonism and anxiety. ” Naturally, the assessment could apply to the mixtape as well, but mainly the anxiety part. If You’re Reading This It’s Already Too Late begins with a sample from Ginuwine’s R&B ballad So Anxious that underscores the way the morbidly boastful Legend (“If I die, all I know is I’m a motherfucking legend”) grounds the listener so firmly in the present moment.
Drake records never come from a truly dark place. He’s always had zero problem speaking about vulnerabilities and loyalty to his crew, but possessed enough charisma to win the crowd over at the end. That is no longer the case. On If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake’s new demeanor should put to bed any quibbles about the semantics of this project.
Surprise! The word wasn’t uttered by Drake but last week’s release of ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ certainly was. It’s another case of an artist sharing new music unannounced, dictating when and how it arrives. But in Drake’s case, the question is why was it released? It could be directed at his label Cash Money, who currently owe Drake substantial royalties.
The Boy wears many hats: he can host a sports-related award show with ease, poke fun at himself on Saturday Night Live, patiently croon "I need some company" to an ex-lover, and dispense Kennedy Station lingo like he still rides the TTC. Indeed, his 17-track surprise release, titled If You're Reading This It's Too Late, exemplifies Drake's versatility more than ever. Between egotistic outbursts similar to those that supercharged his notable 2014 SoundCloud releases like "0 to 100" and "Trophies," this project focuses on the friction caused by a glittery lifestyle, while Drake navigates cultural lane changes and personal gear shifts.
Is it an album? Is it a mixtape? Who cares? The 17 tracks that Drake released at midnight on a recent Thursday hit harder and hold together more cohesively than most big-budget event albums. There's nothing resembling a radio single on If You're Reading This It's Too Late, and not many of the seductively sung hooks that rocketed the Toronto MC to fame. Instead, there are lots of songs like "Star67," a sullen chomp at the hand that feeds him: "Brand new Beretta, can't wait to let it go/Walk up in my label like, 'Where the check, though?'" It's hard to imagine the heads of Cash Money Records, who are currently embroiled in a financial dispute with Drake's mentor Lil Wayne, shmoney-dancing to that one.
Drake’s sudden drops of music get progressively bigger. Last Thursday night, the Toronto rapper released a mixtape without warning, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which was a 17-song collection before his fourth studio LP Views from the 6. That same day, Kanye debuted his first adidas collection and 750 Yeezy Boost, while Puff headlined “The Tip-Off” concert with Snoop Dogg that kicked off NBA All-Star Weekend.
The mantra “know yourself” has been popping up on recent Drake releases. It shows up at the end of Nothing Was the Same’s melancholic “From Time”. A year later, on “0 to 100”, it became a command: “Know yourself, know your worth, nigga!” It gets its own song on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. “Know Yourself” is the clearest thriller; after Drake mutters some backstory about Johnny Bling’s teachings and Kanye West’s influence, the track comes to a sudden halt and morphs into something that sounds like a broken astral transmitter, with the rubbery synth popping up for flourish.
After a typically busy and fascinating 2014, Drake's 2015 started off much the same way. His chart-topping "album" If You're Reading This It's Too Late started off life as a free mixtape, but his label Cash Money stepped in at the last minute and changed it to a full-priced release. This move came amid reports that Drake was ready to follow his mentor Lil Wayne and leave Cash Money because of money issues.
Canadian hip-hop superstar Drake has always been a mould breaking rapper. Seemingly effortlessly able to traverse between classic hip-hop braggadocio and sensitive maudlin RnB with ease, Drake has reached the pinnacle of the rap game across his well-received albums and mixtapes peaking with 2013’s Nothing Was The Same. As his career has developed though, the lines between tough street aggression and vulnerable melancholia have became increasingly blurred.
Drake :: If You're Reading This It's Too LateOVO/Young Money/Cash Money RecordsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonThere's a friend I used to rap with about hip-hop who I'm no longer in touch with that I'm going to call "G" for this review. G was really about the South, the Third Coast, that trill music. Above all G repped for Texas hard and was passionately anti-commercial about anything that you could hear on the radio or that sold more than a few hundred thousand units.
No fanfare preceded the release of Drake’s new album (or mixtape, as he’s calling it), but it still broke the Spotify first-week streaming record earlier this month. The real surprise is how subdued the whole enterprise feels. It’s a protracted moan, over muted production, about the miseries of stardom, social media and our compulsion to make lists.
Is Drake flipping off the man with his new mixtape? Surprise-released on iTunes (and briefly hosted for free on Soundcloud before promptly vanishing), the 28-year-old Toronto rapper’s latest is rumoured to be a ruse; a ploy to run down his contract with label Cash Money before the release of his new album proper, ‘Views From The 6’, later this year. And yet, (deliberate?) lack of singles aside, it’s hard to see Cash Money crying into their fat stacks over ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’. In America, ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ racked up half a million sales in under a week – lucrative, as thinly veiled ‘fuck yous’ go.
Most of Drake’s “surprise” album happens in a haze. The 17 song collection, dumped onto iTunes deep in the night Friday, gurgles and drifts. Many songs undulate over slow, long synth lines, while much of Drake’s flow dawdles and drawls. It’s slow, and minimalist in a way Drake fans will find familiar.
On his new album-length mixtape, "If You're Reading This, It's Too Late," released by surprise on Thursday, the Toronto rapper Drake opens with grim realization. If the 28-year-old superstar dropped dead today, he'd become one of a rarefied few: artists who died too young, at the peak of their powers. The notion is the hook to the first track, "Legend": "Oh my God, oh my God, if I die I'm a legend," he sings in a theme-setting tone on the misty, minimal, Partynextdoor-produced work.
A new Drake album is more than an album, it's an arrow pointing towards hip-hop's future. Whatever other titles we may or may not bestow on Aubrey Graham, he's indisputably hip-hop's most influential emcee. Whatever sound Drake lays down, that's the sound the rest of the music industry rushes to follow. So now that Drizzy's pulled a Beyonce and dropped his new album, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, out of nowhere, pressing play means previewing the sound of rap for the next few months, at least.
In 2015, the distinction between albums and mixtapes has never been blurrier, but that didn’t stop the Internet from trying to parse which category Drake’s surprise If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late fits into. In his liner notes, the rapper referred to this unexpected release as a mixtape, and though its quickie, MS Paint-caliber cover art supported that claim, its $12.99 price tag on iTunes sure seemed to signal a commercial release. Soon the Internet settled on a juicy theory: Drake intended this 17-song project to be a mixtape but instead filed it as an album to complete his obligation to Cash Money Records, the label currently locked in legal battle with his pal Lil Wayne over an alleged fortune in unpaid royalties.
On Drake's "10 Bands," a track from the Canadian rapper's latest album/mix tape, "If You're Reading This It's Too Late" (OVO Sound/Young Money/Cash Money), keyboards toll and the global hip-hop star shrinks his world to a claustrophobic bedroom with the phone disconnected and shades drawn. Hip-hop is defined by its strut, its bravado, but Drake's steps are just as often anxious and hesitant. His propensity to wrestle with his contradictions out loud (or at least in a burned-out whisper) sets him apart, and has also made him a star.
If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late feels stunningly empty. Its beats (primarily produced by Boi-1da and Noah “40” Shebib) are dark, reflective and entombed beneath an unusually unemphatic Drake — despite many instances of Young Thug-via-Lil Wayne intonations. He sounds almost like the victim of an early midlife crisis, carrying the weight of too much experience too early.
opinion byBROOKLYN RUSSELL Long after his superstar heyday and amidst his second child sexual abuse allegations, the now fleeting “King of Pop” Michael Jackson returned to his hometown of Gary, Indiana for the first time in over two decades. There was no agenda to Jackson’s homecoming—it wasn’t part of some costly promotional campaign for an upcoming worldwide tour or a gross publicity tool for multinational corporations to sell their products via his celebrity. The trip was extra special for Michael Jackson as it allowed for him to be seen as a person rather than a persona, to extend goodwill to Gary’s residents, and ultimately get in touch with his humble upbringing.
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is as curious a title as any, but if Drake’s actions up to this point are any indication, the reasoning behind it must lie in the music itself. Ever since his ascendance from television personality to worldwide hip-hop icon, Drake has captured the attention of audiences mostly with brutally honest confessions. Despite the fact that most will go their entire lives without ever experiencing a sliver of Drake’s lifestyle, he turns back at every turn to confirm that his fans are not only following his movements, but experiencing them vicariously.
Dropping a surprise valentine off to his fans in the middle of the night on Thursday, six years to the day after the release of his career-launching mixtape, “So Far Gone,” was one thing. But Drake couldn’t do it without a little wink. The Toronto rapper’s largely unexpected mixtape arrived with the title “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.” Too late for Internet scavengers to scour for links to zip files.