By Livia Meneghin || Senior Staff Writer
If you thought Beyoncé was the only one to drop un-promoted music overnight, think again.
Canadian artist Aubrey Graham, a.k.a. Drake, released his mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (IYRTITL) on February 13, 2015 without prior announcement, and fans like me have been left both excited and slightly confused.
Nothing Was The Same, Drake’s last studio album, was produced late 2013 under his label, OVO Sound, and Cash Money Entertainment; in the past year, hints of new music have been dropped by the “Hold On, We’re Going Home” singer on Instagram and Twitter, but few people were expecting a mixtape to actually be released.
In July 2014, Drake announced Views From the 6 as the title of his fourth studio album, but it looks like listeners will have to wait until later this year for that music. For new, let’s talk mixtape.
The cover art looks just as hurried as the music’s promotion: black scratchy handwriting on a white background, words missing their apostrophes. There is a small image of prayer hands and the number 6 towards the bottom of the cover, referencing Toronto’s two area codes and Drake’s preferred nickname for his home city.
Listening to the album straight through, which I’ve done multiple times, listeners will notice high level of musical cohesion. The songs on IYRTITL flow together incredibly well, and blend into one larger sound. Most of the album is rap, although he does sing with a bluesy tune in “Jungle.” The Grammy winner features artists in his music like PartyNextDoor (Canadian rapper signed to OVO) and Lil Wayne (Cash Money).
“You & The 6” is a widely talked about song on IYRTITL, which Drake dedicated to his mother, Sandi Graham. The title refers to the two things that helped the 28-year-old artist get through rough times during his childhood: Sandi and Toronto. Drake discusses the differences between the life of success he’s leading, full of fighting to stay on top, and his mother’s strength. He says, “I can’t be out here being vulnerable, mama…this is a crazy life, but you and the 6 raised me right…saved my life.”
“Energy,” the mixtape’s second song, starts off with machine gun audio, and then a steady piano melody that continues underneath Drake’s lyrics. “I got enemies,” is repeated frequently throughout the song. I am all too familiar with the artist’s battle against haters, as well as his inability to fully break free from his identity as a Degrassi cast member. Still, the Toronto native’s passionate defense for his career and home sometimes manages to attract negative attention.
Drake often writes music regarding his climb to success, evident by his hit single, “Started from the Bottom.” He frequently responds to hate from other rappers who question his masculinity, rapping abilities, and upbringing (mixed race/upper middle class status). The concern isn’t losing fans, but maintaining his reputation in the rap industry. He wants respect, and getting into physical altercations with Chris Brown and P Diddy seem to only hurt his case. IYRTITL, albeit minimally promoted, seems to be consistent with the multi-million dollar earning artist’s motivation to thrive in the music business: making it clear that he loves his home.
My personal favorite song from IYRTITL would have to be “Preach” featuring PartyNextDoor. It involves a forward moving underlying melody, and doesn’t sound too protective. I admire Drake’s love for the things that matter a lot to him, but “Preach” narrates a scene in Miami, leaving a little more room for fun.
If you’re reading this, it’s not too late to get involved in the hype! If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is available for purchase on iTunes and for listening pleasure on SoundCloud and Spotify. The mixtape has already claimed the number one spot on the Billboard 200, and has hit Gold status with numbers of copies sold. He has also now tied The Beatles for the most simultaneous hits on Billboard’s Hot 100 List with 14 tracks. Drake will always stand by his family, Toronto, and his music. That’s always an artist to be a fan of, at least in my book.
Livia Meneghin is a senior staff writer. Her email is email@example.com.