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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘For All the Dogs’: Drake just wants to have fun

A kitchen sink of a rap album
‘For All the Dogs’: Drake just wants to have fun
Image from Drake’s Instagram

On Oct. 6, Toronto’s premier rapper and singer Drake released “For All the Dogs”: a massive 23-track record full of pop bangers, emotional ballads and varied production. Drake’s eighth studio album comes after “Certified Lover Boy” and “Honestly, Nevermind,” a duo of commercially successful, but musically inconsistent projects. On “For All the Dogs,” Drake looks to return to his roots, try out new sounds and drop plenty of silly bars.

“I’ve thought about a bunch of things in life, but at this moment in time none of those things are stopping making music for you, so I’ll be here for you for a little bit at least. And I hope I can strike up more emotions for you, maybe this year. I might get bored and make another one, who knows!” Drake said during a January show at the Apollo Theater earlier this year.

Most musicians couldn’t get away with justifying an album release because they “might get bored,” but Drake isn’t like most musicians. Drake is not only an all-time top-10 artist in terms of monthly Spotify listeners with 68.6 million, but he’s also the most-streamed rap artist.

At this point in his career, a poorly-mixed abomination of a dance record like 2022’s “Honestly, Nevermind” still hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 list with 250 million streams upon release. As of Oct. 24, “For All the Dogs” is still on top of the Billboard Top 200 albums list with 14 out of the top 20 tracks on the Billboard Hot 100 songs list, including the top three spots.

So, does “For All the Dogs” justify its No. 1 status with a consistent track list and well-planned album construction? Not really, but it’s still leaps and bounds better than his last two studio albums and the artist is clearly having a lot of fun.

Drake opens the album with “Virginia Beach,” which features a beautifully layered, pitched sample from Frank Ocean’s “Wise Man.” Drake is in peak form here, with a catchy hook and a collection of lyrics about failed relationships. His vocal performance is solid, and his rapping is focused, but lines like “He gon’ find out that it’s on-site like W-W-W / On site like dot-com, put a baby in you, a hot mom,” teeter on the edge of abject goofiness.

“Amen (feat. Teezo Touchdown)” has an equally impressive jazz piano sample, which ducks in and out as Drake delivers bars about women, religion and his luxurious lifestyle. Tezzo Touchdown carries this track vocally, but Drake was consistent and had a clear purpose, something that cannot be said about “Calling For You (feat. 21 Savage).”

Not only were Drake’s lyrics subpar and scattered on “Calling For You,” but he also slapped an 80-second audio clip of an obnoxious woman complaining about economy seating on an airplane and eating too much oxtail. Drake has a lifestyle that most of his fans could never relate to, so this pretentious monologue is a non-starter. 21 Savage’s verse is solid, but it’s not special enough to make up for the atrocity that is “Calling For You.”

Luckily, Drake’s fantastic songwriting and production shines in “Fear of Heights” and “Daylight,” both aggressive tracks clearly inspired by younger rappers like Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert. Both tracks are fast, focused and don’t take themselves too seriously.

“Daylight” features Adonis, Drake’s six-year-old, who delivers a few surprisingly on-beat bars over a fun sample at the end of the track. It’s a great track front-to-back with a killer 808 Mafia beat, but Drake once again cannot help his simile addiction with bars such as, “Like tennis indoors, we squashin’ n*****s.”

“First Person Shooter (feat. J. Cole)” is an early victory lap for Drake on the album, but it’s certainly well-earned at this point in his career. Aside from “Jodeci Freestyle,” the two rap legends don’t have a song together, which makes “First Person Shooter” a monumental track for fans of the artists. The pair float over a driving beat with vibrant horns and soulful samples from Joe Washington and Wash’s “Look Me in the Eyes.” J. Cole delivers the best feature on the album and matches Drake’s silly energy with the line, “The Spider-Man meme is me lookin’ at Drake.”

Unfortunately, 13 of the next 17 songs on the album do not come close to the quality of tracks like “Virginia Beach” and “First Person Shooter.”

“IDGAF (feat. Yeat)” may be the album’s most-streamed song right now, but it’s a hot mess. The new-wave jazz intro is beautiful, but it’s rudely interrupted by a BENNY X beat drop. While funny at first, it kills the song’s replayability. Once again, Drake can’t help but drop some of the goofiest bars of his career: “I stay with that O like a tie / I stay with that O like a bagel.”

“7969 Santa” is a solid R&B entry, but it fails to stand out, apart from the odd Chief Keef sample in the first verse.

“Slime You Out (feat. SZA)” was previously released as a single, but the song is a welcome addition to the album. The track’s real star is SZA, who blows Drake out of the water with a vast range and intoxicating tone.

Unfortunately, “Bahamas Promises,” “Tried Our Best,” “Drew a Picasso,” “Members Only (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR),” “What Would Pluto Do” and “All The Parties (feat. Chief Keef)” marks a horrendous six-song stretch that completely kills the momentum of the record.

“Bahamas Promises” has a great instrumental, but it’s hard to relate to one of the most successful men alive complaining about a girl ruining his Bahamas trip. “Tried Our Best” feels downright lazy, with mind-numbing bars like, “Message read like a brake light” and “You think I’m Shakespeare / That’s why you play, right?”

“Members Only” is also highlighted by the downright preposterous bar: “Feel like I’m bi cause you’re one of the guys, girl.” Honestly, Drake fans know to expect at least one of these lines on each record, as the line from CLB’s “Girls Want Girls”: “Yeah, say that you a lesbian, girl, me too,” carries the same energy.

“All The Parties” has a fantastic first minute that’s completely ruined by the baffling choice to have Chief Keef sing.

As if saved by the angelic chorus sampled by producer Conductor Williams, “8am in Charlotte” is an oasis in a desert of awful songs. While Drake spits plenty of corny bars in the freestyle-like track, lines like, “Things get kinky after 15 years of dominance” and “You young boys take some of that money and put it aside / Not havin’ enough to pay your taxes is a federal crime” hit hard over an ethereal beat.

Unfortunately, this fantastic track is followed by “Gently (feat. Bad Bunny),” which may be the worst Drake song ever made. Bad Bunny is fine on the latter half of the song, but he sounds even more monotone than usual over a boring Latin beat. The first minute of the song is unlistenable, Drake donning a fake Spanish accent to say, “I live like Sopranos, Italianos / I’ve been El Chico for cincuenta años.” Bad Bunny is one of the only musicians alive who can rival Drake’s international popularity, and the fact that Drake completely wasted the opportunity to create a momentous track like “First Person Shooter” is unforgivable.

“Rich Baby Daddy (feat. Sexyy Red & SZA)” isn’t for everyone, but it’s the last good track on the album, and there’s still three songs after it. The pounding club beat with Sexyy Red’s absurd vocals makes for a fun, non-serious and catchy track. SZA once again carries the song with her vocals, but Drake has a decent performance considering the tongue-in-cheek tone of the song.

The last three tracks of “For All the Dogs” are equally forgettable and probably should have been cut from the album. “Away From Home” is probably the best of the three, but they all have lazy production and even lazier vocal performances.

Is “For All the Dogs” a great album? No, but Drake clearly had a lot of fun putting it together, given the varied production, goofy bars and high-profile features. However, Drake has never been known for his album construction or consistent production. He thrives off creating hit singles, new trends and catchy melodies. Through that lens, “For All the Dogs” is everything Drake needs it to be: a place to have fun, make music for his fans and create a few record-breaking tracks along the way.

Lucas Ruud can be reached at [email protected].

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