Album Review: Drake’s Surprise Mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

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On February 13th, Drake surprised hip-hop fans all over the world with the unannounced release of his new mix tape: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. At first listen, it is clear that IYRTITL goes in a completely different direction than Drake’s earlier albums like Nothing was the Same (2013) and Take Care (2011). Most of the 17 songs featured on the mix tape deviate from Drake’s famous ‘humble bragging’ verses about sex and money and catchy, seductively sung hooks. Instead, the songs on IYRTITL come from a darker place in the mind of Drake, evidenced through the cold, slow beats that accompany his melancholic rhymes throughout the mix tape. Drake used IYRTITL as an outlet to express his feelings about the major themes in his life since his last release. Out of these major themes the most prominent seem to be his haters, his hometown, and his mother. Drake goes from 0 to 100, real quick in the mix tape’s opening song “Legend”. On this hard-hitting track, he flaunts his success and establishes his position at the top of the rap game by referring to himself as a ‘legend’ and ‘the holy one.’ The song’s soundtrack is reminiscent of Drake’s older, slower beats and features samples from Ginuwine’s “So Anxious”. Following the opener is “Energy”, which deals with Drake’s ‘enemies’ and their attempts to drag him down. The combination of the introductory gunshots, aggressive lyrics, and the melancholic beat provides listeners with a dark insight into the struggles of being a famous rapper, a recurring theme throughout the mix tape.

Further into IYRTITL, Drake pays homage to his hometown, Toronto, Canada with the tracks “6 God” and “6 Man”. The number 6, which is featured on the mix tape cover and in the titles of some of the tracks, is a reference to the numbers 416 and 647, the area codes of Toronto. In “6 God,” Drake salutes the city and squad that made him since day one. His powerful lyrics are pleasantly accompanied by the fast-paced production by Boi-1da and SykSense to form a wild, head-bob inducing track. In “6 Man”, Drake praises the virtues of a man from his area and discusses his incredible work ethic that lead to his position at the top of the rap game. With some feel good references to his local area and a wavy beat by Daxz and Noah “40” Shebib, this song is perfect for any lazy afternoon.

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Drake has discussed his love for his mother in many songs featured in his previous albums, and IYRTITL is no exception. “You & the 6” is a song that comes up towards the end of the mix tape and is the first showing of Drake’s vulnerability that we are so used to hearing from him. In this sentimental track, Drake touches on some of the issues he had growing up, and how his mother and his city helped him cope with it. With a subtly upbeat soundtrack and Drake’s classic flow, the song is a nice breath of fresh air from the hate and anger present throughout the mix tape.

Overall, IYRTITL is slow and get’s tiresome towards the end. It is not a mix tape that is easy to listen to from start to finish. However, the stand out songs, the profusion of feeling, and the new vibes produced by Drake make the mix tape worth purchasing. If this surprise release acts as an appetizer for Drake’s upcoming LP Views From The 6 (set to drop later this year), I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the main course.

Highlights:

Know Yourself

No Tellin’

6 God

You & The 6

Jungle

6PM in New York