Pat’s Picks: Drake offers surprises on multiple levels


Photo credit/ Katlynn Whitaker

Patrick Kernan, Opinion Editor

On Feb. 12, Drake pulled a Beyoncé, dropping new music with absolutely no announcement, and he called the release “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.”

There’s a lot of debate swirling around on the Internet about whether or not this release counts as an actual album or just a mixtape, but I’m not sure how important the distinction between those two terms is. What is important, though, is the music.

When this album dropped, I knew that I needed to write a review on it. The biggest problem was the fact that I’ve never listened to any of Drake’s albums before. Sure, I’ve heard some of his singles, but I never sat down and really gave Drake a listen.

So, to get ready for this review, I spent the day after the release marathoning all of Drake’s discography.

By the time I got to “Reading,” I realized something about Drake: he’s matured a lot over the years, and this release is really his most mature to date. This comes by way of some pretty big changes in the production and Drake’s rapping, the two most important aspects of any hip hop album.

The best phrase for the production is “minimalistic.” The drum sections are simplistic, and focus on lighter cymbals instead of the heavy bass drum. And there are moments where what the production isn’t doing is even more important than what it is doing. The beats will occasionally totally drop away, leaving the listener only with Drake’s vocals.

This all serves to emphasize Drake’s lyrics. Drake here often eschews the typical rap brags–although they still feature prominently–in favor of something more emotional. Drake touches on themes of love, loss, and other more complex emotions than he dealt with in his earlier work.

For example, in the chorus to “Know Yourself,” he talks about “runnin’ through the 6”–a section of his hometown of Toronto–with his “woes.” “Woes” here has a double meaning. Obviously, there is the meaning of sadness. However, according to The Fader, Drake has said that “woe” is actually an abbreviation for “working on excellence,” and that his woes would be his crew.

With double entendres like this, Drake not only displays his own growth as a lyricist but also his devotion to personal growth. I find this growth to be very exciting.

I make no secret about my negative feelings about Young Money artists like Drake, Lil Wayne, and others, but with the amount he’s grown, Drake gives us the best Young Money release to date. I’m giving “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” a 4 out of 5, and I’m excited to see what’s in his future.

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