Drake’s new “mixtape” earns positive reviews despite lack of cohesiveness



Eddie Brancale

The impact of an artist such as Drake cannot be overstated. Love him or hate him, Drake’s combination of catchy hooks and powerful beats has led him to the top of the rap game. Bursting onto the scene in 2008 with his hit single “Best I Ever Had,” Drake’s popularity skyrocketed with the release of his first LP, “Thank Me Later.” With his background consisting of a middle class upbringing split between Toronto and Memphis, Drake hardly fit the stereotype of what we perceive as “modern rap.” He took that idea and ran with it, and continues to drop solid records in the process. After a relatively quiet 2014, Drake shocked the world with the surprise release of “If You’re Reading This it’s Too Late.”

Billed as a mixtape, fans were confused as to why it was made available on iTunes for $12.99, being that mixtapes are ordinarily free of charge. It seems as though Drake wanted to meet his contractual obligations at Cash Money Records as soon as possible, as he and his rap collective (including Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj) have fallen out of favor with the label. Nevertheless, “IYRTITL” is a new step for Drake, and he takes the reigns of superstardom with ease on an album far different from his previous efforts. 

Conceptually, the album evokes the feeling of a mixtape. The album lacks the cohesiveness of “Nothing Was the Same,” mostly because this album appeared to be unplanned in many ways. The tracks may be all over the place, but they are exceptional. Drake continues to advance his lyrical flow, and furthered the notion that he is the best rapper in the game. “Legend” starts off the album powerfully, with Drake declaring his domination of his peers and his legendary status. “Used To” features label mate Lil Wayne, and furthers speculation that Drake and Wayne are on their way out of Cash Money. The highlight track here is “6PM in New York,” on which Drake is at his best, sneaking disses at Tyga while maintaining his lyrical dominance. Critics and fans alike were confused as to the nature of the collection of music and why Drake released it with no notice. He may be following in the footsteps of Beyonce, whose self-titled LP was released with no promotion and in turn became one of the best-selling albums of 2014. This notion carries significant weight, in that Drake collected over one million in sales within the first few hours of the albums late-night release. 

The deterioration of Cash Money Records may have also prompted Drake to “cash out” in a sense. The recent feud between Drake’s mentor Lil Wayne and the label has gotten ugly, with Wayne threatening to sue the record label for $51 million. This, coupled with the significant dip in popularity of Cash Money and the rise of less verbose rappers such as Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan, has led  many label members to jump ship, in an attempt to move on with their careers. Drake previously released three albums under the label, and was obligated to release a fourth. The curious nature of this release may have been Drake’s way of saying goodbye to Cash Money. If anyone on the label deserves better, it is without question Drake, who has been able to rise to superstar status despite the stagnation of his record label. “If You’re Reading This it’s Too Late” may be unconventional and uncohesive, but it allows Drake’s lyrical prowess and talent to shine amid controversy and speculation.