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Review of Drake's "For All The Dogs" Album

 Drake: For All the Dogs Album Review | LyricalOdyssey


Review of Drake's "For All The Dogs" Album

After undergoing a few transformations throughout his career, Drake has stuck to different hairstyles since 2018. Despite the anticipation surrounding albums like Certified Lover Boy, they didn't necessarily offer anything new from Drake. However, what we didn't expect was the amount of work he'd be putting in over the subsequent years. He made a significant departure on "Honestly, Nevermind," which marked a shift from his usual pop-adjacent hip-hop and R&B records. Meanwhile, "Her Loss" provided a new pocket that he lightly explored through snippets and efforts like "Dark Lane Demo Tapes."

Eight months after the release of "Her Loss," Drake released his first poetry book, "Titles Ruin Everything," where he announced "For All The Dogs." "They say they miss the old Drake, girl don't tempt me. For all the dogs," he declared. His poetry book seemingly continued the thematic statement he established on "Certified Lover Boy," which he described as "a combination of toxic masculinity and acceptance of truth which is inevitably heartbreaking." It's a 180 from Drake's early career, where he often earned reverence among feminist audiences for trying to speak to their emotions rather than commodify their bodies. However, in the same year that Future leaned into his toxic ways on "I NEVER LIKED YOU," Drake seemingly took note. For Future, it was embracing a character that the internet made him out to be, but for Drake, it stems from emptiness.

Across "For All The Dogs," Drake basks in the money, fame, and glory as he always does, but his ability to speak candidly about relationships has evidently dissipated. He's not falling in or out of love but rather trying to fill a void in his life that money or respect can't necessarily buy him. Relationships and former love that once brought him a sense of purpose have been reduced to Birkin bag handouts and sugar daddy tendencies, which, in all fairness, he and Future established on "I'M ON ONE."

That said, "For All The Dogs" feels like a moment in Drake's career where he's at a crossroads. His own fame has compromised the things that he once strived for in his personal life, and he's evidently grappling with this reality. And at some points, it almost sounds like desperation. "Drew A Picasso" brings Drake's stream-of-conscious writing to a moody midnight-esque soundscape intended for deep thoughts and late-night drives as he reflects on a woman who doesn't necessarily value the social status and wealth that Drake could provide. It all comes together when he croons, "I can't picture you with him/ That's just so embarrassin', I want to die." It's a close callback to the old Drake, the underdog whose glow-up inspired a generation of men to try and stunt on the women who once wrote them off in high school.

The problem is that it feels as though Drake hasn't moved on, which is especially true on songs like "Fear Of Heights." Contrastingly, "Fear Of Heights" comes through with the rugged and aggressive tone that has made Drake's rap records feel riveting as of late. However, the perceived shots at Rihanna and ASAP Rocky feel too petty for a man who admittedly "had badder b*tches than you." To make matters worse, he seemingly continues to address Pusha T five years after the masses declared the former G.O.O.D Music president the winner of their lyrical bout.

The moments where Drake seems to be looking ahead largely rely on the excellent list of collaborators he brought on board. It's no secret that SZA stands as the current reigning queen of R&B. While "Slime You Out" failed to achieve the cultural impact that you'd expect from a song with both artists, they make up for it on the Sexyy Red-assisted "Rich Baby Daddy." It's Drake's latest take on the resurgence of regional club music, laced with a diaphanous vocal sample, fierce synths, and an infectious hook, courtesy of the "Pound Town" hitmaker. Even still, the song devolves into heartbreak with Drake bellyaching over missed connections.

Then, there are artists like Yeat, who've become paramount figures of the new generation of rap, thanks to his warbling vocals and high-octane production. Yeat's influence on Drake isn't new, especially considering BNYX's general rapport with Drake. And while BNYX's hand on "Search & Rescue" transformed the song into a hit, it's clear that Drake's verbose bars can't hang with Yeat's vibes. Still, "IDGAF" remains one of the most exciting records on the tracklist.

Still, even with refreshing voices like Teezo Touchdown, Lil Yachty, or Chief Keef on the tracklist, there aren't many rappers who seem to inspire Drake's pen. "8 AM In Charlotte" felt misleading in its release ahead of the album. When "Slime You Out" failed to maintain a Top 10 spot on the Hot 100, "8 AM" felt like Drake was about to give us bars on "For All The Dogs." Unfortunately, much like the majority of Drake's catalog since 2015, it feels like he isn't genuinely interested in standing among the game's top lyricists but rather reminding people that he can rap every once in a while.

Still, J. Cole evidently put a battery in Drake's back on "First Person Shooter." With an all-star roster of producers attached to the song, including Vinylz, Boi-1da, Tay Keith, FnZ, Oz, and Coleman, Drake and J Cole emerge over triumphant production with boastful bars and the braggadocious rights that they once worked towards when collaborating on songs like "In The Morning" or "Jodeci Freestyle." It's a celebratory anthem that feels as monumental as the weight of the names they carry.

Drake's biggest issue of his career is that he's too versatile. Noah "40" Shebib once explained that his musical counterpart has a wide demographic he tries to cater to on each album. Perhaps that's the biggest issue with Drake's catalog these past few years. He's been throwing paint at a wall through bloated tracklists, knowing that at least something will stick without trying to establish definitive bodies of work in his catalog.

Besides "Honestly, Nevermind," Drake hasn't committed to one sound that he could expound on further. Ultimately, that's the biggest downfall of "For All The Dogs." He doesn't differentiate between welcoming the next generation of stars as an OG or trying to stand next to them as peers. There are moments that emphasize why the "Old Drake" resonates with his audience. Still, even so, he's at an intersection in his career that fails to distinguish how "For All The Dogs" is any different than his previous bodies of work, nor does it look beyond the instant gratification of Billboard records and social media chatter. With his pending hiatus, "For All The Dogs" should close out a long-winded chapter in his career—one that turned him into a generational star who can be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jackson, if only for the accolades and chart success.

Review of Drake's "For All The Dogs" Album Review of Drake's "For All The Dogs" Album Reviewed by LyricalOdyssey on October 12, 2023 Rating: 5

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