By Alejandro Escamilla

Aubrey “Drake” Graham is a well known rap artist throughout the world. In my personal opinion one of the best entertainers in music currently. Even though many would say that there isn’t much to compare with. Honestly, the rap industry has been falling since the mid 2000’s. Today, most rappers make music with no substance and no message, solely depending a good beat, character, and some silly dance to remain relevant. These entertainers don’t realize how much influence they have over today’s youth. It’s incredibly easy to get exposure due to the advancement of social media and the internet itself. Don’t get me wrong there are some rappers with promise (i.e. Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole), and these artists have successfully made it mainstream with music that has meaning. If Kanye can ever get his head out of Kim’s ass we may get some more classics from him as well. Hip-Hop is not dead, however it is on life support.

Drake’s first complete solo album “Thank Me Later” was a great addition to rap music. Highly anticipated after the arrival of the “So Far Gone” and a complete success with hits such as “Fancy” and “Over”. The true Drake gem lies within “Take Care”. The album has so many hits “Shot For Me”,The Motto”, “HYFR”, “Camera’s”…the list just goes on and on. However, many believe that Drake’s latest addition “If You’re Reading This It’s To Late” falls short of his past work, and has been the popular debate of many listeners. Some call it a mix tape, some call it a filler album in order for him to depart from Cash Money Records. At first listen I didn’t give it much of a chance. I expected instant love of the album in the same way I felt when I listened to “Nothing Was the Same”, but I didn’t. It seemed lacking in some form or another, possibly rushed or not very thoroughly thought out. The beat selection seemed sub par and the lyrics not quite on par with his last two contributions. At further listen, around two weeks in a row after letting the album sit for about a month or so, I’ve changed my opinion. While not an instant classic, it is far from a dud.

The intro track “Legend” has a catchy beginning and a tune that rides smooth all the way through. The main line, “If I die, then I know, I’m a muthphuc** legend” resonates very well into the Hip-Hop conscience. For me, it’s a quick reminder of the many rap legends that were lost too soon. Biggie, Tupac, Big L, Big Pun, just to name a few. It’s a great opener to the album and gets the listener started off on the right foot. One of my favorite tracks come next with “Energy”. It comes off as a rant of sorts and the delivery is a bit over done at some parts but it’s s solid track. The beat could have been a bit more polished, but since it plays the way it is, the lyrics seem more spoken word at a coffee shop.

“10 Bands” and “Know Yourself” really pump the album up. With all the controversy surrounding the ghost written/reference verse for “10 Bands”, it only makes the song more popular. This is by far one of the best tracks on the album. “Know Yourself” coins the term “woes” (Working on Excellence) which started a craze of people using it to describe the squad the hang out with. The song is your ceremonial “club banger”, one of about 5 on this album and I play it at least 2-3 times in a row while riding in my car.

“No Tellin’” is a track that engages the drag out delivery from “Energy” over a high wine beat, followed by a great transition that made “Take Care” such a classic. If there is one thing Drake excels at, it’s definitely transitioning from hip-hop to sing song vibe mid track over a different beat. An excellent example of this is “Cameras/The Good Ones” and “No Tellin’” follows that tune. At first I wasn’t to keen on “Madonna” but it slowly grew on me because of the super chill vibe. It is one of the more lackluster tracks on the album, but it fits right in with vibe of album.

“6 God” is hype but a bit annoying. This track seems like something that should have been on “Yeezus” to join in the rantings of Mr. West. This further enforces my thought of pieces of this album being Drake’s turn to vent in public. “Star 67” is a surprising track that picks up right where “6 God” leaves off, but a far more forgiving track with a tune that is much more easier on the ears. The secondary track is ridiculously good. Mellow, touching, and you can tell it’s real Drake. It’s a Drake track that you can really ride to and share a beer at a bar to.

“Preach” and “Wednesday Night” slow the album down in the Drake mellow/party mode, but a nice listen nonetheless. I really enjoy these tracks during a cruise downtown and the “Used To” follow up is excellent. If I had one bad thing to say about “Used To” it would be the addition of Lil’ Wayne. He almost ruins the track, and his verse makes not a bit of sense. I’m glad that “6 Man” is on this album. This track boosts this album to a new height for me and give it the added “Umpf”…”Young but I’m makin’ millions to work the nightshift!”. I can’t stop listening to this track! This is one of the songs that made me upset at avoiding this album for so long.

“Now and Forever” is the “Take Care” or “Going Home” of this album, which means that many people will like it and many will hate it. Trust me the song will grow on you slowly and it will be all about the chorus. “Company” leads us into the latter half of the album which finishes out pretty strong in my opinion. With “Company”, “You & The 6”, and “Jungle”, Drake bleeds as crooner should. I believe many people forget that Drake is a mix of both styles and does it very well. One of the strong points being that you get a bit of everything when you listen to his work. “6 PM in New York” is more what I would be expecting from an intro rather than and outro but you can’t help but enjoy this track. If not for, “ From head to toe I’m Prada covered, I know your girl well, just not in public”. It’s the continuous little gems like this that make Drake a strong draw. Sometimes you have to listen a bit harder for the witty Drake but it’s there.

Overall, I agree it’s not “Take Care” or “Nothing Was the Same” but, it is on par with “Thank Me Later”. Sometimes you just have to give music a chance and this is an album that deserves one.

Batman stole all his stuff from me. I could totally beat up Liam Neeson.