Last Thursday, Drake dropped his latest opus Beyoncé-style, sending his fans, his peers, and the media alike into a frenzy. In the days since, Billboard has noted that his release is expected to sell upwards of half of a million copies within its first week. Referenced as a mixtape by Drake, the work is really an album in the sense that it is being sold commercially, and in that it fulfills his contractual obligations with his label, Cash Money Records.
Speaking of which, Drake not-so-subtly hints that he will soon be severing ties with Cash Money. In “Now and Forever” he repeats, “It’s over, yeah it’s over yeah, I’m leaving, I’m gone.” The tone here is really the tone of most of the album—confident, in control.
The intro, "Legend," is sonically softer than "Tuscan Leather," and Drake croons about his dominance rather than rapping it. Nonetheless, it’s a highlight, easing us into the rest of the rap-heavy collection of tracks, reminding us that he’s “got this shit mapped out strong.”
Drake's best friend/right-hand man/producer, Noah "40" Shebib, is reliably good and unsurprisingly versatile. From his sensual beat on "Madonna" to his textured, synth-heavy work "6 Man," he does his usual intricate work mixing shadowy sounds with ambience.
And, of course, no Drake effort would be complete without a little help from his mentor. In "Used To," Weezy and Drizzy spit over razor-sharp synths, featuring the intertwining vocals and synergy we loved in “HYFR” or “She Will.” Nonetheless, Lil Wayne’s lyrical contribution leaves something to be desired.
When all that’s said and done, the album feels like it’s lacking a peak—something that provides us with a snapshot of who Drake unconditionally is in this moment. The album is consistently dark and brooding, Drake is unapologetic to everyone he addresses, and even without a few standout tracks, the album itself is a musical success.