Dear World,

Last week, on Thursday February 12, Drake a/k/a 6 God a/k/a Mr. Steal Your Girl a/k/a Woe Lord a/k/a Let Me Hold That Flow real quick, dropped a surprise “Mixtape.” If you are reading this, you probably already heard If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and haven’t listened to anything else all weekend. If you are a poor unfortunate soul who hasn’t yet given themselves up to the Toronto Pharaoh, then you’re way too late, sorry; you should take a good close look at your life and try to figure out where you or your parents went wrong.

Now you may have noticed that the word mixtape somehow found itself in quotations earlier. There is a simple reason for this: I am a firm believer that mixtapes mean free inherently. I’m not taking a knock at Drake or the generous 17 tracks for $12.99 deal he so graciously offered fans. However, if you call something a mixtape that shit better be free; unless you are some dude walking around the ferry promising every passerby, who mistakenly made eye-contact with you, that you have the most fire bars, but you need a five dollar donation to really get the necessary studio equipment to blow up big time—although, even this dude doesn’t get my money.

After I heard and continued to hear about Drake’s highly anticipated mixtape, I was down for the cause. I was determined to not let this glorious second chance pass me by like So Far Gone did many moons ago. Rarely do I buy a ticket for the hype train, but in this instance I let myself indulge in the temporary standom a tad. When I awoke to “Jungle (or ‘Drake does an experimental, deep artsy music video’)” on Thursday, I prepared myself for the onslaught that I assumed would welcome me upon my return from work.

I wasn’t wrong, the internet had collapsed and Drake had become the digital Leonardo DiCaprio (which I guess is Neo). Everyone was talking about If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Twitter timelines became the site of a mass Drake lyric conference, forums became places to kneel at the alter of the 6 God, bars became the houses of drunken worship to Aubrey. The entire situation was exciting and overwhelming, I needed to hear this thing. Then I saw $12.99. Disappointed would be putting it lightly, I was livid and just said “Fuck it, I’m watching a movie instead (which was Whiplash, you should see it).”

This “mixtape” cost as much as an album, maybe even more. I’m not an “Oh well since I love said artist, I’m going to go and support them anyways,” type of guy. If you wanted album money, all you had to do say was, “I’m about to drop this fire album that I may or may not have sent back in time to kill off the dinosaurs, but trust me you will thank me later. So buy this album.” If Drake or his camp had made it clear that it was going to cost money, literally nothing about this release would have changed, except for my frustration on that Thursday night—as an aside, I do believe that this decision was ultimately not left up to Drake, but his greedy record label.

So leaving If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late‘s mixtape or album status behind, let me tell you that it is an amazing journey from start to finish. Normally I prefer shorter projects, ten to twelve is perfect. An artist is pushing it at fifteen to twenty tracks: what do you really have to say for that long? However, even If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’s weaker or filler songs help Drake maintain his developed mystique. While I’m not a super huge fan of”Star67″ and “Preach,” PARTYNEXTDOOR decided to bless the latter track with the worst performance of his short career, these two tracks still help set an emotionally hard hitting tone, a vibe that only Drizzy seems interested in creating.

Right from the start, I knew that this was going to be a different experience. Drake isn’t known for his modesty, but he always struck me as a guy too interested in being seen as safe for T.V., he is diplomatic with his moves. Welp, those days are done. First off, he just up and calls himself a legend on a track suspiciously entitled “Legend;” then he has the nerve to fire off this incendiary bar, “I got rap niggas that I gotta act like I like/But my actin’ days are over, fuck them niggas for life, yeah”, on the very next track, “Energy”; sprinkle in a hilarious Tyga diss on “6PM in New York” and his transformation from Bubbles Drake into Buttercup Drake becomes complete.

Drake is beginning to accept the gravity of his status in hip hop. Besides for a hobbling Wayne, an ever strong Kanye, and a possessed by Coolio of Christmas Past Kendrick, there really is no one even close to Aubrey’s level (Young Thug is only starting his transcendence). As odd as it may sound, I was so relieved to hear him brag and call people out on If You’re Reading. I know Drizzy in his sad form is a lot of people’s favorite, I just think his music becomes boring and whiny, especially when it drives majority of a project. Thankfully, Drake doesn’t make me sit through a number of rap-ballads about past loves or regrets, but just gives me the braggadocio that he so deserves and I want act like I earned as well. I might be shallow though.

While fans were busy pondering what exactly wasn’t the same, Drake began to hang out with a number of West Indian fellows, who make a number of cameos on If You’re Reading. “Know Yourself” will probably be the most notable instance, since the song was interrupted like twice for impromptu toasting and radio DJ sessions. Nonetheless, begin to learn “Know Yourself,” I can promise you that it will be everywhere for the next…hmm…eternity and rightfully so. The song is too legit, so legit that the Canadian Johnny Bling has just become an American household name. Crazy. My woes and I will be running through the city blasting this track on repeat, come this summer.

“6 God” is crack, but you already knew that one. “Madonna” is possibly my favorite, the mixture of the glitchy break and Drake’s mumble flow is spell binding. “You & The 6” is Drizzy’s version of Tupac’s “Hey Mama,” it’s good and personal. “Used To” continues to prove my theory that “Wayne has to rely more and more on Drake’s hook talent in order to make a good contribution to humanity” correct.

Finally, but most important, “Jungle” introduced me to Gabriel Garzón-Montano. The sample on this track is too much for words to full appreciate, but then the original “6 8” is just too much for your body to handle. I had no clue who Gabriel was before “Jungle”, now I’m a major fan.

Yeah, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late  is really good. Should you think of it as a mixtape? Does it even matter now that a friend has given me the full version? Possibly, but regardless this is a great piece of music and one that I will be returning to frequently. Drake made a really solid album.



P.S.: Drake still shouldn’t have called it a mixtape though.