So, similarly to what Beyoncé did with her 2013 self-titled album, Drake tried his best to do what is now commonly known as “break the Internet” by releasing his album, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, without any prior warning. With only sparse rumours of a January mixtape circulating, the news of the release, of course, sent Twitter, blogs and pretty much anybody who listens to music via the Internet into a frenzy, as they sourced out this new music from Hip Hop’s current MVP.
The project has been received positively, which does not come as a surprise. It is another solid selection of tracks crafted by the Canadian rapper/singer, as he hits the heights we have come to expect from a record of his. Drake is currently in a space where he can comfortably create anything and have 90% of people express their admiration for it, which he has earned through his consistency since his 2009 breakthrough mixtape So Far Gone. Nevertheless, upon listening to the LP in its entirety, I could not help but think that I had heard it before. Producers such as Noah ‘40’ Shebib and Boi-1da take care of the majority of the production, which increases the familiarity of the sound, with a lot of the content you could label as archetypal Drake. Due to his musical dominance over the past few years, the aforementioned familiarity of his sound could be stepping into the realms of over saturation, causing listeners to become bored and crave something new. This is not a slight on Drake’s current level and/or ability, it is more to do with the Internet’s affect on how music is consumed. We have endless amounts of music at our fingertips, so if we become even slightly uninterested in a product, we can almost instantly find something else and this is where Drake needs to be cautious.
Take Rick Ross, for example; last year he dropped 2 albums (Mastermind & Hood Billionaire), 1 of which I paid little attention to once I had it and the other that I missed completely. Yet, before even listening to either album it would have been easy to envisage the album’s direction, point being, he has become rather predictable and quite frankly stale in how he portrays the art form. There may be comparable concerns for Drizzy, especially when initially listening to If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, as it feels somewhat like a story that has already been told. The differences between Drake and Ross’ fan bases are obvious, hence why I don’t feel the Canadian’s commercial success will be affected by these fears, but for the people that truly appreciate the craft and culture, it could be the start of a downward (or at least levelling off) of Drake’s otherwise upward trajectory.
There is no doubt that Drake has mastered this particular rapping/singing style that he has based his career on, so as that is the case, where does he go from here? After 3 very successful Hip Hop albums, Kanye West famously shocked his fans by putting together the much maligned (at the time) 808’s & Heartbreak (2008), almost completely altering the elements that made him so prevalent up to that point. Kanye repeated the feat 5 years later, when he introduced the world to Yeezus (2013), to varying degrees of positive reaction. Is Drake capable of taking such a risk and surviving the potential backlash? There is an argument that he has already taken a risk by adopting the Hip Hop/R&B hybrid style that has left him open to some criticism within areas of the Hip Hop culture. So with that being said, it could be understood if Drake preferred to stay within the avenue that has brought him so much popularity, as a point to those who questioned his talents from the outset. One particular aspect of Drake’s music that is keeping him at the forefront of our minds are his lyrical responses to the numerous other rappers who continue to take shots at him. The particular foe in question this time is fellow YMCMB label mate Tyga, who he responds to via ‘6PM In New York’. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for the self proclaimed ‘Champagne Papi’, he will seemingly always have people attacking the way he conducts himself, but if that were to cease, it would eliminate another point of interest for listeners.
Whatever he may decide to do from this point in his career, there is a growing feeling that Drake is at a crossroads, so it’ll be very interesting to see which path he will take and whether that will lead to continued success.