“If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” and the changing face of Hip Hop’s brightest star.
“If you’re reading this its too late,” stands as an ultimate assertion of cultural dominance. The biggest artist in the game shamelessly flexing on peers and detractors alike. There’s absolutely no secret: Drake is the best rapper in the world — IYRTITL was just him letting the world in on the fact that he knows.
Nearly half a year after “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’s” release, the album has only grown in momentum; building on an unprecedented opening week of (624,000 units sold) the album has carried all the way to certified platinum status (with over 1 million units sold.) Making it the lone record to go platinum in what has been one of music’s strongest years in recent memory.
(Ps. if you were wondering that’s 4/4 for Drake, as all four of his previous albums have been granted the same platinum status.)
In hindsight, the release of the album was unprecedented — a royal anomaly, practically unseen in rap, (especially by the undeniable #1.) There indeed had been noise concerning a potential winter mixtape release from the 6 God, but information on it was scarce — being completely honest, there really was no information on it at all, until Toronto Raptor Demar Derozan accidentally mentioned knowledge of it during a short interview with NBA T.V months prior to the album’s release. Drake obviously inspired by the groundbreaking rollout of Beyoncé’s album, had literally no press leading up to the mixtape/album’s release. Not even an acknowledgement of its creation. Nothing whatsoever.
In a day and age where it’d become increasingly commonplace for artists to spend weeks, months, even years on their album promo process, what was to come from Drake would open a lot of eyes. And very quickly work to change the operation of an industry created and powered by million dollar labels that for years served no real purpose other than a crutch; making up for uninspired artistry, and imposing upon the uncalculated business that it’s so often paired with.
The release also carried the additional burden of many wondering if Drake’s counting IYRTITL as an album and not a mixtape could be directly attributed to his wanting out of Birdman’s Cash Money record deal. A sentiment that only intensified for the boy after finding himself in the crossfire of the spiralling legal and street battle that would see itself play out amid the well documented tensions between Birdman and Lil Wayne.
That being said — On February 13, (a date now fondly known as 6mas, ha) a cryptic tweet, accompanied with a link to the album, was sent out of the blue from Drake’s twitter account.
The album was here. It was officially on.
The 17 song project initially understood as nothing more than a throw away from the OVO camp, very quickly became much more, largely due to the undying international fandom that followed its release.
Armed with a satirically suggestive title, Aubrey had the game at his beck and call; handily managing to introduce an entire culture to a new way of doing business.
What was given to the world was a 17-song dedication to Drake’s city, mother, detractors, women, and how he’s the greatest there is. The albums release/rollout gave life to the “new age of artistry,” and a marked a real D-day in the perpetual artist-label battle for creative control. A battle that has plagued the industry since the birth of the big-business supported style of selling and distributing music.
More specifically — for a community that had for years found themselves specifically imposed upon by labels and the billion-dollar infrastructure that they support, “IYRTITL’s” success meant that much more. Things like the long monotonous album promo process were no longer necessary, and Drake’s success officially legitimized this fact to all.
Creative freedom had been restored; Drake had successfully given control back to artists, whether he knew it or not.
Throw the semantics of business away, believe in your art, your fans, and let the product speak for itself. Now of course, not every artist is Drake, and not everyone can do what he did, but there are levels and equivalencies to everything. And in artists like Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, D’angelo, Rihanna, etc, we see an obvious, and quickly growing impact in the way quality music is beginning to be delivered to the world.
Now let’s get into the record — On it you hear the voice of a 28-year-old man comfortably accepting of his exalted position atop the rap throne. A voice confidently boomin over instrumentals that make you want to do everything from: call your ex, to go buy a new Raptors jersey; mob with ya woes, spend time with your mother, and participate in the overall jiggyest of activities.
Quite simply, rap’s premier hit maker did what he does best: deliver hits. A feat that we should at this point be anything but surprised about.
He kicks the album off with a battle cry of sorts, (of course in a very uniquely Drake, r&b kind of way.) Legend, is the culmination of a near decade of dominance, a feat fairly unprecedented; especially for a rapping Jewish kid from Canada.
“Oh my god, oh my god, if I die I’m a legend.”
What followed the opening song was everything from classic New Orleans bounce on “Energy,” the probable song of the year with “Know Yourself,” drunken freestyles on “Madonna,” dedications to his city on “6 God,” “6 Man”, and “Jungle,” and a loving ballad for Toronto and mother on “You and the 6”.
Know Yourself: serving as the song of the year, reserves position as a certified banger; crossing nearly all demographical boundaries, and probably stands alone as the song of the album. Madonna, of course was the seed that planted tree that turned into the now notorious Drake/Madonna Coachella kiss (and the song holds an ironically special place in pop culture history because of it.)
IYRTITL’s three features include a full song “Wednesday Night Interlude,” by the probable heir to Drake’s OVO throne, Partynextdoor, and another by him on Preach. It includes a verse from Drake’s self proclaimed “Idol,” and the man many credit with helping mold the stardom now so closely associated with the Toronto rapper, Lil Wayne on “Used To”, and a guest spot from G.O.O.D Music upstart Travis Scott on “Company”.
With this project Drake officially stands completely alone. There are no longer any peers: he’s in a league of his own, and catching up to that of his heroes at a blistering pace.
And scarily enough, it was only the warm-up for his actual album.
“Views From The 6” is the record he’s been working on since 2014, and will be the official follow-up to his last full-length album “Nothing Was The Same”.
All in all — Aubrey still has his occasional moments being the simp everyone seems to so desperately want him to be. But for the most part “IYRTITL” introduced the world to a new and improved Drake, an angry Drake, a man pulling no punches, and one we’ve never seen before. It serves as his coming of age moment, and will forever remain synonymous with the evolution of a legend. One perfectly comfortable in being the best,
and if you don’t agree, Fu*% You.
Sincerely, The Boy.
Originally published at www.matthewhendrixx.com.