Updated: Nov 22
Unfortunately, I love the new Drake album. I wanna be cool & underground but the biggest artists in the world keep making great things. Drake is my favourite rapper if I had to go by amount of songs I like from a single artist simply because everyone else that I like as much or more doesn’t put music out as frequently, and as a kid from Toronto his music has always meant a lot to me growing up in the city.
For All The Dogs is my favourite aspects of Drake music refined with modern flows and his best production yet. It’s this noir spacey, ambient, r&b rap, like a futuristic Take Care. From a production standpoint I believe this album has hit a peak in Drakes discography.
Drake is clearly chasing a current sound, he’s working with people like Lil Yachty, Yeat and 21 Savage, and trying to remain youthful.
Drake samples Chief Keefs Don’t Like on 7969 Santa over this ambient trap beat and that’s very much reflective of the cultural foundation for this album, it’s this DJ screw, lean, underground ambient trap, Chief Keef influenced moody music. This album is all of my favourite things in music in recent years put together. I’ve lived with it for a few days and after listening to all of the music back to back on repeat it dawned on me how incredible this album is and how this album was crafted for me specifically.
I’m a 24 year old man from Toronto Scarborough Canada, outside of constantly mentioning the east side in his lyrics which is where I live, this album is stylistically created for people in my generation.
Drake ventured stylistically into everything that I love and have been listening to in the 2020s from rage music inspired by playboi Cartis Whole Lotta Redd, he gets production inspiration from artists like Westside Gunn who’ve been using Conductor for the last few years on albums like Pray For Paris that dropped in 2020, he stylistically ventures into a Pierre Bourne esque ambient trap music that he attempted on Dark Lane Demo tapes which is another one of my favourite drake projects in recent memory.
During his critique of the album Anthony Fantano said he didn’t understand why West End girls was sampled at the end of All The Parties, but it reminded me of playing GTA V in high school in 2012 and driving at night listening to the radio when that song would play, a lot like the Chief Keef Don't like sample on 7969 & a lot like the mood on the rest of this album, and I’m pretty sure that was intentional, Drake even had BARK radio with various celebrity voices from Sade to Snoop Dogg coming in at various moments throughout the album. Songs like Rich Baby Daddy remind me of driving in a white Ferrari through GTA at night with its ambient ethereal neon tone.
I think Drake was drawing a line in the sand and choosing a path at his fork in the road on this album. Instead of bridging the generational gap, he crossed the bridge. Drake is 36, instead of calling DJ Akademiks, Joe Budden or anyone in his age range, he called Kai Cenats stream on his release day, Kai is 22 years old, Yachty is a primary influence for the album and he’s 26, we were all in elementary school when Drakes first album came out, but this album is made for us.
This album doesn’t distinguish between rap and r&b too much, not that Drake ever has but even the way he starts off the album is symbolic of the shift in music that he helped create that he’s fully embracing on this album, the first song isn’t the usual Drake boastful braggadocios rap that we’re used to, it’s Drake singing over a trap beat sampling Frank Ocean, where Drake sings about lean, Fanta and his relationship woes. This album is definitely more melodic than it is focused on bars even though there's some elite lyricism all throughout this project, specifically on songs like Tried Our Best.
Songs like Bahamas Promises & Tried Our Best are some of Drakes best vocal performances over these ethereal beats. This album is everything I like about Drake compiled and refined with a new range of influences that I actually appreciate because I enjoy them.
J Cole went crazy, Adonis went crazy, Sexy Redd went crazy, Chief Keef went crazy, the DJ Screw interlude was incredible, Lil Yachtys influence on Drake has only been positive in my opinion. Songs like Jumbotron shit poppin are my favourites on Her Loss, and I can hear the influence in songs like What Would Pluto Do & Another Late Night.
There’s been critiques by people like The Joe Budden Podcast who said they didn’t like how it wasn’t rapping in the beginning, in the same way as Tuscan Leather and other iconic Drake intros, but he’s literally rapping, that’s just what rap has become now in 2023. My favourite song on the album is Away From Home and it’s a bar fest where Drake is melodically pouring out his heart, which is exactly where you would think his style would evolve if you first heard him on So Far Gone or Take Care.
The critiques by the Joe Budden Podcast are something that I’m going to get into further because I think it’s symbolic of the point this album was trying to make. The Joe Budden podcast is a group of men in their 40s, some of them have kids, some of them are married, they have mortgages, this album wasn’t trying to appease them, and that’s the problem they had with it.
Joe Budden told Drake to get around some people his age, stop sleeping with 25 year old women and start making some adult music. Now, that critique was hilarious but I had my reservations when I first heard it because it didn’t sound right, but before I could even formulate my thoughts, Drake responded to Joe Budden on Akademiks comment section, a place that I be in very often, and he basically said Joe was a failed musician and a hater and that aspiring artists shouldn’t take any advice from him.
This isn’t the first time these guys have went back and forth and I’m certain it won’t be the last, but this was somewhat of the same thing Joe said about Drakes Views album, an album that is so classic in hindsight that his take sounds more absurd by the day. But it makes you think, does Joes criticism of For All The Dogs have any validity?
His numbers seem to show that he knows what he’s doing, and artistically I believe music is supposed to evolve.
At this phase in his career Drake is a cemented legend, he could have appeased his core audience and dropped a lyrical backpack album full of timestamp records and I’m sure the Joe Budden Podcast would have appreciated it, Joe even said he would have started the album by dissing Pusha T on the Virginia Beach beat, which in my opinion would have been the worst thing to do on that beat. Drake decided to try to make music for the youth because he's looking for longevity in the game instead of being a nostalgia act.
He could have made music for people in their 40s, but theyre not streaming on twitch, they're not at the clubs every weekend, they're not going through relationship woes with women in their 20s, but for the rest of us that are though, this album is beautiful.
If there’s any valid critique of Drakes music it’s that he’s not innovative whatsoever, everything he’s ever done is derivative, he doesn’t innovate or invent anything, but I don’t think that’s his role or ever has been.
I think Drake is just a really great artist that’s really good at taking styles and mastering them, people like Chief Keef that he featured on the album, or his idol Kanye are innovator types, they invent things, then people take their styles and run with it, Drake is one of the people that runs with styles. Like the Jay Z saying goes “you made it a hot line, I made it a hot song” Drake is the type to make a hot song with whatever style.
If it’s drill he’ll adopt the style for the month it’s hot till it’s done, if it’s rage he’ll do his version, if it’s a song with Bad Bunny he’ll make the best Spanish song you ever heard, if it’s heartbreak sing rap he’ll do his version, people like Quentin Miller might have written for him but nobody can make a song quite like he does and that’s his gift.
I think the critique of wanting Drake to stop hanging out with young musicians is like telling Miles Davis to not hang out with Herbie Hancock or make a rock album, if our great musicians don’t venture into different lanes and experiment then music stays stale. And for someone who drops as frequently as he does Drake needs to experiment or else we won’t wanna hear it, and I’ve wanted to hear everything this guys made for over a decade and that’s crazy so he clearly knows what he’s doing.
Drake features Chief Keef on All The Parties, and gives his most conscious verse yet where he actually talks about what’s going on in my city and says he wishes he could dead all the beefing and dissing deceased friends, even though at the moment he’s part of perpetuating the problem.
Everyone’s talking so much about the stylistic choices made for the album with the Yachty influenced beats and flows, but I don’t see many people talking about the content of the lyrics and I think there’s a reason for that, because it’s ultimately going to become a statement on the character of the man behind the music and that’s always a difficult line to cross because ultimately none of us know him and all we have to go by is the music, which is part of the reason Drake was upset with Joe Buddens critique, because he felt it was personal.
Now, I’m from the same city as Drake, this is a city where they teach classes about this man at universities. I’ve seen this man perform multiple times, so his story has always been inspirational. Drake is one of the few rappers that was like me and everyone I knew.
We all love rapping along to 21 Savage but none of us are killers, most of us aren’t around that lifestyle in any way shape or form, we’re not gang members, we don’t sell crack, we’re not in the strip clubs throwing millions, we’re not around scammers and gangbangers, but we do all have feelings, we have all been in love, we’ve all been through heartbreak, we’ve all experienced the things Drake usually talks about, until recently.
Now, the evolution can be documented through the music and it's pretty tragic that Drakes trajectory as an artist was inevitable if you're paying attention. Drake is fully claiming to be a gangster now, and I don’t think he’s joking, and that’s pretty tragic if you ask me. You’ll see various copypastas of people making fun of the premise, but I remember being a kid listening to Closer To My Dreams and hearing Drake say “When you hollerin' at labels and they silencing you back cause you fail to thoroughly discuss some violence in ya track.” Now every verse he has is about violence or whacking an opp, or congratulating his friends on getting an opp.
Drake is very reminiscent of Tupac in that neither one of them claimed to be any type of tough until they rapped, and it happened out of necessity due to the context of rap & success & fame and everything that comes with it. How long can Drake be the sensitive rapper around gangsters while being worth billions of dollars without becoming a gangster himself, and whatever that term means to him now, & I think he really means that shit.
Regardless of all that though, the boy cooked up one of those ones because ultimately he's one of the most talented artists we have today whether we wanna give him credit or not, he'll always be one of my favourite artists of all time and I'm looking forward to his next project. Drake is a generational talent in a way you rarely see in your lifetime, the way he's been able to remain prolific and consistent in quality is astounding, and I feel like he's still driven to do more, which is crazy. I know he said he's taking a break from music but I can't see this man stopping any time soon and that's very inspiring.