I avoided this like the plague when it first dropped, and my Facebook feed was a goddamn wasteland for a week from all the Suggested Posts of articles with the words “Surprise” and “Album” (only one of those words is true). I mean, look at that cover! Look at those O’s – none of them connect!
And then I had to deal with stuff like this (highlights mine): “In the days to come you’ll read that Drake “pulled a Beyoncé” with the stealth drop of If You’re Reading This, and yes, both are surprise releases from A-list artists topping the charts without a rollout or much in the way of an advance warning. But Radiohead’s In Rainbows is the better comparison: Both records found the artists revisiting the mood of a highly regarded early work as they transition into new methods of delivering music to fans. Whether the Drake tape is a clever track dump disguised as an album with the intent of worming out of his Cash Money deal, a deliberately planned gesture to tide fans over until the upcoming Views from the 6, or just an exercise in shirking the protracted waits and missed dates of the retail rap game, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late winningly employs the occasion of the So Far Gone anniversary to revisit the twilight consternation of Drake’s breakout release, perhaps to close out a chapter of his career on the same note on which it began.” Ugh. It is all of those things, Mr. Jenkins: a track dump disguised as an album, a contractual obligation, a stopgap. How do any of those characteristics seem positive to you?!?!
The highlight reel:
~”Know Yourself,” which has one of the most exhilarating hooks I’ve heard in a while, and it was a great idea to hold the keyboard back for as long as Boi-1da did,
~”6PM in New York,” which has the best rapping on the mixtape, from the oft-quoted diss to Tyga (“I heard a little little homie talking reckless in Vibe / That’s quite a platform you chose, you should’ve kept it inside / Oh, you tried / It’s so childish calling my name on the world stage / You need to act your age and not your girl’s age”), to his play on the words “decade” and “decadence,” before using the same rhyme for almost sixteen consecutive lines directly afterwards (and Boi-1da and co. throw in a light cymbal wave in a really minor detail that the mixtape could’ve used more of). Hard to believe that this song is labelled as a fucking bonus track.
That’s it, and maybe we can write home about the hook of “Legend,” or the decent rave-up of “6 God,” but that track makes me yearn for “Worst Behavior” (which it samples). Elsewhere, “Preach” makes me yearn for “Body Party” (which it samples) and “6 Man” makes me yearn for “You Got Me” (which it interpolates), and the two PartyNextDoor’s showcases, “Preach” and “Wednesday Night Interlude” has failed to make me want to listen to PartyNextDoor at all since flow-wise, he sounds identical to Drake and singing-wise, he sounds like he has even less to say than the Weeknd. 40, Drake’s better half, barely contributes anything at all, which screams that almost no effort was put into this project. He finds a nice sample on “Jungle” that’s unfortunately barely audible during the verses, and he contributes nice drum programming for “Madonna,” which is utterly forgettable otherwise.
Also, for everyone who keeps asking: no one in Toronto calls it the 6. We call it Toronto, fuckers.