BY JAKE HARKEY
On Oct. 6, Drake released his highly anticipated eighth studio album, “For All the Dogs.” While it was initially supposed to be released in September, it got pushed back due to his “It’s All a Blur” tour that took place from July 5 to Oct. 7.
The album was announced in conjunction with the release of his first poetry book, “Titles Ruin Everything/A Stream of Consciousness,” breaking the news in his author’s note. Drake alluded to bringing “the old Drake” back with this album by referencing a lyric from his hit song, “Headlines.”
I do believe that bringing “the old Drake” back is not feasible for a plethora of reasons – which is not necessarily a bad thing. Drake has been in the music industry for over 15 years, releasing his first prominent mixtape “Comeback Season” in 2007, making him something of a veteran. At age 36, Drake has a child and has gone through a lot since his time as the “old” Drake.
Artists are supposed to progress and evolve rather than repeat old content. So while the “old” Drake did not make an appearance on “For All the Dogs,” a polished, mature Drake did.
With a lengthy 23-track album, “For All the Dogs” shows that Drake isn’t new to music, but he’s certainly true to it. Maintaining his signature formula, he begins the album with a dramatic introduction, sampling Frank Ocean’s “Wiseman” for “Virginia Beach.”
The album proceeds to emit the various sides of Drake that many know and love, showcasing a perfect blend of his rapping and singing about heartbreak, love and life. Other key themes include trust and betrayal, life at the top and living life on the move.
The extensive nature of Drake’s album left me wondering what topics are left to cover in the future. I imagine he is wondering this as well. “For All the Dogs” is Drake’s fourth project in two years, leaving little room for musical innovation as far as production goes, along with an occasional lyric redundancy. Yet Drake somehow finds ways to impress me as both a fan and listener; a true testament to his talent as a songwriter and producer.
My personal standout tracks are: “Fear of Heights,” “7969 Santa,” “Bahamas Promises,” “Tried Our Best,” “Drew A Picasso,” “What Would Pluto Do,” “8am in Charlotte,” and “Away From Home.” These songs are my standouts because they showcase all the moods we’re used to Drake going through, and they make it a quintessential Drake album.
Drake’s album features renowned artists SZA and J. Cole, as well as newer artists like Yeat and Sexyy Red. Incorporating older and newer artists into his album shows that he’s an artist who can honor his decorated career while also keeping up with the times.
“For All the Dogs” demonstrates that Drake is still able to put out a solid album with commercial hits that are respected and treasured by fans. The average Drake-listener will find the album easily digestible and enjoyable to listen to.
Devout Drake fans will likely enjoy the album as well but may be more wary of its redundancy when compared to his other recent projects. Further redundancy is no issue though, as Drake announced on his SiriusXM radio show, “Table For One,” that he will be taking a break from making music to focus on his health and personal matters.
Overall, this album is a decent follow-up to Drake’s last full solar release in 2021, “Certified Loverboy.” While I don’t believe he topped this previous album, his music hasn’t dramatically declined in quality.
This album left me wanting more from Drake, but I’m not in a rush to receive another project from him. We’ve heard so much from him in the past two-and-a-half years and he’s teetering on the very thin line of overexposure. I would like for him to take this break to re-evaluate and become more inspired.
I give the album a solid 8/10, and I’m excited to see what he brings to the table in the future as he continues to grow.