Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Renowned For Sound

For the latest music reviews and interviews

Album Review: Drake – For All The Dogs

3 min read
Photo: Island Records

International rap giant Drake has shared his well-anticipated eighth studio album, ‘For All The Dogs’. The record comes at the end of the artist’s ‘It’s All A Blur’ tour, on which he was joined by fellow rapper 21 Savage to perform before packed-out arenas across North America. Coming out of a massive tour with a new 23-track collection which nears almost an hour and a half in length, hopes were high for what ‘For All The Dogs’ had to offer, and what direction Drake has chosen to take since his 2022 album ‘Her Loss’.

Opening track ‘Virginia Beach’ comes in with Drake’s classic fusion of R&B stylings and comparably curt rap verses, creating an overall enjoyable flow. Over weighty kicks, rolling hi-hats and the distorted repetition of “I bet your mother would be proud of you”, Drake grapples with themes that while occasionally relatable at their core, feel slightly worn out by the rapper at this point in his career. Drake is no stranger to narratives about the one that got away, something that he managed to deliver most authentically on his 2011 track ‘Marvin’s Room’. Unfortunately, ‘For All The Dogs’ does not begin with a fresh perspective. Rather, it is one that has been seen repeated throughout the rapper’s discography in recent years, setting a slightly gimmicky precedent for the record.

This pervades second track ‘Amen’ featuring American rapper-singer Teezo Touchdown. ‘Amen’ aptly opens with a prayer built upon trickling keys and a gospel-like backdrop. However, an offer of thanks quickly delves into familiar “I can treat you better” territory. “Prayin ‘til you find a man/That’s gon’ treat you, that’s gon’ treat you like I can,” being the central message, it feels like the track has missed out on the opportunity to offer more substance. Following number ‘Calling For You’ is an addition to a continued collaboration between Drake and 21 Savage that jumps in pace. It is particularly busy as Drake’s verses toe over a lightly trap-influenced instrumental, leading into an unexpected rant about a vacation that didn’t meet expectations to introduce 21 Savage’s nonchalantly delivered lines. It is something different, and it begins a run of harder tracks. Notably is ‘Daylight’, which includes a few lines from Drake’s son in the outro as a sweet touch from the rapper.

Drake has become well-known for collaborations with talented names in R&B and rap, and ‘For All The Dogs’ carries this torch with several unexpected appearances – including a crisp feature from J. Cole on ‘First Person Shooter’ and SZA’s more soulful delivery on ‘Slime You Out’, a track which brought the record’s intensity down. The album even sees Drake testing out his Spanish flow with Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny on ‘Gently’, a track that is far from gentle with its winding Latin trap beat. In addition to Teezo Touchdown, ‘For All The Dogs’ showcases another fresh face – Sexyy Red. A current breakthrough figure, she has brought her increasingly popular unfiltered bars to ‘Rich Baby Daddy’, also accompanied by SZA. It is a peculiar mix, but Drake seems to take to using his platform as a playground for some of the buzziest names in the rap scene.

For All The Dogs’ takes on various faces as a rap album with notes of R&B songcraft, decorated with unique features. However, it does fall short from what would be expected from an artist of such prominence. Thematically, Drake’s woes about love interests are tired. There are moments of creative wordplay that vary from shocking to comical which have kept the album interesting. Yet, it feels as though Drake has lagged on new approaches to his artistry since his 2017 mixtape ‘More Life’. As the rapper has announced that he is taking a musical hiatus due to health issues, his newest record leaves questions surrounding what to expect of a return, but it can be hoped that stepping away from the limelight might just change the scope of his future work for the better.