Updated: Nov 7
by Pierre Chammas
A new Drake album has just hit streaming platforms.
To be quite frank, Drake has not been a critic’s best friend as of late. It seems like ever since Views (2016), there has been an objective reduction in quality. His lead single of 2023, “Search and Rescue,” was so one-toned and horrendously mixed that media originally speculated it was an AI-generated track. It gets to the point that you are releasing so much watered-down music, that even your biggest supporters start to notice.
Now we are here today with his ninth studio album “For All The Dogs,” which was promoted to be for his old school fans, hence its title. People anticipate an album nostalgic of his earlier work with more laidback and emotion-driven tracks.
Though reluctant at first, both singles “Slime You Out” and “8 am in Charlotte” stood out to be some of Drake’s best work as of late, so I really did not know what to expect. While SZA definitely outperforms Drake on “Slime You Out,” it is apparent that Drake actually sat down to write that track. Same thing with “8 am in Charlotte.” Featuring a vintage piano beat with preachy vocals, Drake demonstrates ability with his pen in ways he has not since near 2015. These two songs alone clouded my reasonable doubt.
Gosh, I wanted this one to be good. No one just sits down scrambling their hands against the table waiting for an objection to come across—I wanted something nice to listen to, especially from one of the biggest artists in the mainstream.
Might as well start with the good. We begin with a different take on his basic formula—chipmunk soul instrumental, boom bap flow. “Virginia Beach” was quite decent, but rather him singing on top of that signature soul. When Drake’s vocals work, you usually get a nice mellow track, and we pretty much have that here. He went for something different which I can appreciate. This leads into the majority of what I like from the project, the production being on another level. “What Would Pluto Do” and “IDGAF” being shining examples of actual creativity.
“Amen” featuring up-and-coming rapper Teezo Touchdown is a great cut off the primary portion. Drake’s inflections alongside Teezo Touchdown’s shocking singing performance, almost reminiscent of Ty Dolla $ign, wrapped the track together nicely. His contribution to “7969 Santa” is absolutely my favorite part of the album.
In actuality, this project flourished best with its features. The SZA and Sexy Redd track was actually pretty fun and I think the duo worked out well. The Yeat track was also a standout, being one of the best instrumentals Yeat has rapped over in his career.
“I’m bouta, I’m bouta.” We are really running out of adlibs huh? “First Person Shooter” is the better of the album with both of the best-written verses on the record, aside from “8 am in Charlotte,” from J. Cole and Drake respectively. The beat hits, savage lines from both, and more specifically, I enjoy J. Cole when he’s not under that wise persona of his which all around comes off as corny, as overused as that term may be.
One problem I have with Drake is he is quite cut and paste to a point of intolerance. That “what, what, what” thing he does where he seems like he’s gasping for air might have been hard two years ago but it has definitely overstayed its due. Many of the monologues about the women in his life come off as toxic and no one really enjoys spoken word portions in general. Not to mention his career-hindering lyricism is most of the time about his sex life.
“I treat the rap game like a toilet.” (okay this was 21)
“LOL gang, we the last ones laughing.”
These are a couple of one liners. Tell me right now who is responsible for these because Drake has a team of writers. Maybe it’s for the shock value, but who at home really feels these lines?
More bad: the vocals. As I mentioned, you have come to the wrong venue if you are looking for a life-changing performance from Drake, therefore it isn’t his capabilities that are the issue. I find more concerns in the melodic range than anything. “Gently” featuring Bad Bunny is basic even beyond the fact that it's a shameless reach for a Hispanic audience. To name another, “Polar Opposites” sounds like an early mix of No Guidance by Chris Brown, a song Drake is on. Times and times again, Drake displays vocals we have heard before. Why not listen to the more passionate cuts from seven years ago?
It’s a solid 35 out of 100. Some stand out but always fall short in some capacity. Despite the streak of bad records, I do not find myself coming back to interesting moments with even a smidgen of amusement compared to his other works.