Drake Is Still Perfecting Himself
(Written and posted before the release of Dark Lane Demo Tapes. Repost from 3/10/2020 from 3300+ Climbing)
Over the past few months between leaks and official drops, the biggest artist in the world has shown that his next album may be the one hardcore Drake fans have always wanted. Now his domination of Spotify and Apple Music charts seems standard, Soundcloud has always been home of the most personal and even experimental OVO songs. Most of these would later be repurposed as 2019’s compilation album Care Package, leaving unofficial remix’s and chopped and skrewed (yet never slopped) versions of album cuts left as the last Soundcloud exclusives. Growth is something every artist strives for, and growing from free songs on a bubbling platform to being able to flip them into revenue-earning records is a beautiful thing to witness, but it’s not the only evolution the Canadian superstar has come out on the other side of. Take a look at “Come Winter” from 2006’s Room For Improvement mixtape. With Joe Budden flows and 9th Wonder impersonator beats on the ready, Drizzy talks about Drizzy things, but not with the same depth that his best records today have. You can see someone with potential, but in 2006 it seemed too different from the mainstream to be anything more than underground. In 2020 Drake’s “sound” seems non-existent mostly to his own fault. His soul-bearing R&B / rap hybrid style has become the sound of contemporary pop music, and to separate himself he’s needed to lean into pop, trap, grime and afrobeat music. This all leads to Scorpion, a mediocre attempt at a double-disc record billed as “one side R&B, one side rap”, just for all of it to drift in a grey area in an uninspiring way.
Currently, we’re living through one of the longest stretches of his mainstream career without a new full body of work clocking in at 22 months, matching the space between Take Care and Nothing Was The Same, and it’s been a needed one. His ethereal control of music over the past decade has lead to a degree oversaturation, and frankly, fatigue of his presence. He’s sounded mostly uninspired and on the lookout for something special within these different pockets of music that seemed like it would never come. Then the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championship to be followed by a celebratory two-pack featuring “Money In The Grave” and “Omerta”. “Money” became the hit of the two, but “Omerta” showed him digging back into the style he’s rarely shown on records outside his AM/PM series. Top-notch Mafioso bars over banging drums and a subdued vocal sample created one of his best songs in years. Hardcore Drake fans have always hoped for a concise full album of records like these, but as he’s put out publicly many times, to the chagrin of his right-hand man 40, it’ll never come. He even took the time to reaffirm it in late December in his Rap Radar interview saying
“…the reason you’ll never get that perfect 10–12 song classic is because I have to do two things on every record…..I need to please the ones who like my singing, and some records that have enough bars…”
Outside of self-released joints, snippets have also hit the internet via record industry insiders IG stories and hackers personal Soundcloud account including the New York Drill record “Outside” with Fivio Foreign and Sosa Geek, and the ever-evolving tropical cut “Pistols”, but have gone unacknowledged by the 6 God himself.
In the last few months since the Best In The World Pack was released, a new spark is within every record with his name attached. Features on “Gold Roses” and “Life Is Good” show him flowing over everything given to him and a new renewal of commitment to bars and experimental structures that have been missing recently. Then “Desires” came and he returned back to Soundcloud to master his new interests, bringing along new songs.
Produced by: D. Hill
Coming off a 2015 collaborative album and a sea of singles, like the most recent chart-topper “Life Is Good”, Future and Drake have again shown why they are one of the best duos in mainstream hip-hop. Both have made a career speaking on their failed relationships stemming from personal failures or the toxic women they allow to infiltrate their lives, but rarely do they both dig into this style together. Linking up with one another leads mostly to high energy club records, but on a song featuring lyrics like “self-control has never been your thing / don’t think it’ll help if there’s a ring with a rock in it” and “you want to be my number one / you not acting like the main thing” it’s now time to be prepared for What A Time To Be Alive 2 to be the sonic equivalent of the morning after rather then the night of.
“When To Say When”
Produced By: June James
Footage leaked recently of Drake shooting a music video in front of Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, famed childhood home of Jay-Z himself, leading to speculation of what was coming next. Was he finally going to lean into a full-blown beef with Jay? Why does he look so scared? Is Hov somewhere in Toronto bearing an Expos jacket in front of Drakes childhood home? Is this an SNL skit? The truth was revealed over the weekend “When To Say” was released on Soundcloud with a corresponding video featuring those same shots outside of Marcy. With the Taxas bred June James sampling Jay-Z’s “Song Cry”, the new song shows Drizzy laying back and lamenting on his place in rap while building up his persona of a Scorcese mob boss (like we didn’t see him on Degrassi, but time changes all of us to some degree I guess).
“Chicago Freestyle” Featuring Giveon
Prod. Sevn Thomas
Footage leaked recently of Drake shooting a music video in front of Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, famed childhood home of Jay-Z himself, leading to speculation of what was coming next. Was he finally going to lean into a full-blown beef with Jay? Why does he look so scared? Is Hov somewhere in Toronto bearing an Expos jacket in front of Drakes childhood home? Is this an SNL skit? The truth was revealed over the weekend “When To Say” was released on Soundcloud with a corresponding video featuring those same shots outside of Marcy. With the Texas-bred June James sampling Jay-Z’s “Song Cry”, the new song shows Drizzy laying back and lamenting on his place in rap while building up his persona of a Scorcese mob boss (like we didn’t see him on
Prod. Pi’erre Bourne
I don’t care what I have to do to get this song doubled in length and released officially but there a few things off the table (but due to its recent removal from Soundcloud it looks like my wish may come true. For those who are new to the Hip-Hop Song Leak Universe, a label removing a song form a platform is typically a sign that an official version will be out for mass consumption one day). If you’re familiar with Pi’erre Bourne this beat leads to comparisons of a more mellowed out “Bermuda” from Young Nudy’s Nudyland project, showing his growing range as a super-producer, while also giving Drake a type of instrumental he’s only more recently tried to master again. The song is a great departure from Nudy’s day-to-day trap lifestyle into a nearly psychological breakdown of a club entertainer and their parallel growth as people since they first met. Bars like “we used to do pornos when you came over but now you got morals and sh*t” show great growth from young infatuation to an evolving want for something more serious. That coupled with “she got a business plan / but she just ain’t have time to write it down” gives a look into the same woman now with one foot in the nightlife and another searching for a more sustainable future.
“Chicago Freestyle” and, the possibly unfinished, “Not Around” have already rocketed to the top of my personal all-time Drake rankings and look like signs of what is to come. A new album is rumored to be released this summer, and all we can hope is that this recent run of features and solo songs is not a pump fake (here’s looking at you “Diplomatic Immunity”), but rather a peek into a revitalized and ever-evolving Drake.