“I’m not soft,” Drake told an interviewer back in 2011. “I’m just not one of those people who’s closed off emotionally.” It’s a fair piece of self-assessment. Drake’s new surprise mix-tape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late feels damaged rather than weak or passive. It’s impressively troubled; it’s heartfelt and sincere; it’s emotive and critical. It’s a lot of things. It’s not soft.
One of the mix-tape’s many high-points is Energy, a track that shows off Drake’s ability to mix emotional sensitivity with genuine ferocity. “Gotta lotta enemies” he raps in his inimitable way, managing to talk about himself in a serious, considered way, without ever descending into idle boasts or self-aggrandising epithets .
Indeed, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is ultimately concerned with what it’s like to be the man named Aubrey Drake Graham. But rather than a vapid piece of self-promotion, the mixtape ultimately feels personal and human. Lines like, “my ex asks me where you’re moving/I say on to better things” from the impressive 10 Bands are admirable for the way they turn what could easily be nothing more than lifeless boasts into the inspiring words of a man determined to do better every day.
Even the guest spots feel intrinsic to the experience: 21 year old Jahron Anthony Brathwaite, a.k.a PARTYNEXTDOOR , guests on Preach and Wednesday Night Interlude bringing a soulful emotion to the proceedings, while Lil Wayne and Travi$ Scott do impressive work as well.
Other highlights include No Tellin’, the most lyrically impressive track on the mixtape, and Jungle, a five minute odyssey through the uneasy feeling of paranoia one gets when they start to truly fall in love.
By the time the bristly, intense 6PM In New York has drawn to a close, one is left with the impression that they have been given an insight into an accomplished artist’s life. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late cuts through the hype, the hate, and the hubbub, stripping away all that is ultimately little more than white noise, leaving a lone man doing nothing less than expressing his true self.