If you’re reading this, it’s too late to not have an opinion on Drake as a person, rapper and artist. Late Thursday night on Feb. 12 when Drake dropped his mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” then releasing it as an album instead, he had hopes of capitalizing on the general public’s opinion of him with a surprise album. Following the latest trend stemming from Beyoncé and J. Cole, this album was dropped with no promotion and garnered 500,000+ sales in four days and 25 million Spotify streams in one week—strictly off of word of mouth through social media
For months social media was buzzing with rumors of Drake in the studio working on what many thought to be his third LP, “Views From The 6.” That full LP is still rumored to be expected in the coming months, but Drake’s mixtape-turned-album drop serves multiple purposes—many of them stemming with his mentor’s on-going feud with their label’s management.
Months before the release, Drake’s mentor, Lil Wayne, displayed a public meltdown of the relationship between him, his parent label Cash Money and his mentor/former father figure Birdman. Drake made a point to lyrically express his views on the matter, “Walk up in the label like ‘Where’s the check, though?’ Yea, I said it, though.” Drake himself was under contract from Young Money/Cash Money Records for four album releases—“Thank Me Later,” “Take Care,” “Nothing Was The Same” and now “If Youre Reading This It’s Too Late,” which would be his last contractual album under Cash Money Records and thus lead him to be a free man after its release. To Birdman and his label, if they were reading the album title, it was too late for them to do anything about it.
Drake is anything but ignorant to what the industry has to say about him. He has been called out by several of his peers in the past year, including his former label mate Tyga, who went out of his way in a Vibe Magazine interview to slander Drake while he was with Young Money. For months, it seemed that we would not get a reply. Fast forward to the last track on “If You’re Reading This…” and we have Drake’s response in his four-minute long rant that is “6 Pm In New York.” Full of bravado and ego that has become a custom in Drake vents, he blasts Tyga while firing several shots to other artists, society, his naysayers and everyone listening by forcing the listener to just love what they are listening to. As expected, the Internet went ablaze. Memes, discussions and a “war” between Amber Rose and the Kardashian Klan followed in the weeks after the release.
Timing is everything for Drake and he uses it to full advantage. The time of the album’s release was the calm before the storm that was NBA All-Star Weekend in New York City. P. Diddy had teamed up with Snoop Dogg to perform what could be seen as arguably the best concert of the year, and it was only February at The Tip Off concert, hosted by New York Radio Station Hot 97. Diddy allegedly attacked Drake months ago for stealing the “0 to 100” instrumental from him. To which Drake had no response. Until Thursday Night, when Drake ever so subtly took Puff Daddy’s thunder and dropped the surprise album in the middle of his concert, thus proving to those watching that Drake could care less about what P. Diddy. It was a bold move for anyone, including Drake.
The album, although full of throwaway tracks that did not actually make the “real” new Drake album, does have some hidden gems. The first song to receive music video privileges, “Jungle,” has a lovely sample to classic Drake singing his feelings over a smooth, minimalistic instrumental. In what is a charming gift, we are treated with another ode to a Hip Hop Mom in “You & The 6.” In one of the album’s key tracks, Drake opens up and lets his vulnerability show through a monologue he has with his mother about the hardships that he faced throughout his life.
This album is what it is, a mixtape turned album that fulfilled Drake’s duty to his label while handling all the flack he has been getting as of late. Many of his fans are content with it and some are even happier that Drake has provided them with months’ worth of Instagram captions.