Drake’s 8th solo album ‘For The All Dogs’ is here, the heavily anticipated project is viewed by many as a make or break album for the self-proclaimed 6-God. Drake has many records in the streaming age and many fans that cross generations but there are many criticisms that have to be addressed.
The 23 track album is simply put a rough listen. It’s not about Drake’s decision to rap or sing on any particular track it is the subject matter. The emotionally conscious, bar heavy artist that many became fans of seems to only show up in glimpse similar to a Hall of Fame athlete that can’t sustain the performance over an 82 game season anymore. There are high-profile features throughout the album and that is the most notable part of the project in my opinion.
Notable features from SZA, Bad Bunny, feature slayer J. Cole, frequent collaborator 21 Savage, and one of the fastest rising stars around in Teezo Touchdown give the album some real personality aside from the sassy and questionable lyrics from Drake. Aside from the features the album is kind of whatever, it just lacks the maturity and cohesiveness of previous projects.
‘First Person Shooter’ ft. J. Cole — Not much to say about Drake here but flowers have to be given to the incredible feature run Cole is on. Not only does he lift any song he’s on he can give you a verse of the year contender every time out. Drake thought he had his friend on a song and it was the Grim Reaper.
“Rhymin’ with me is the biggest mistake, The Spider-Man meme is me lookin’ at Drake,
It’s like we recruited your homies to be demon deacons, we got ’em attending your wake,
Hate how the game got away from the bars, man, this shit like a prison escape,
Everybody steppers, well, fuck it, then everybody breakfast and I’m ‘bout to clear up my plate (Huh, huh, huh),
When I show up, it’s motion picture blockbuster,
The G.O.A.T. with the golden pen, the top toucher,
The spot rusher, sprayed his whole shit up, the crop duster,
Not Russia, but apply pressure,
To your cranium, Cole’s automatic when aimin’ ‘em…” — J. Cole on ‘First Person Shooter’
‘8am in Charlotte’ — This track gave me hope for this album. After the first listen I thought Drake might have his first notable body of work since 2015/16 (the compilation projects don’t count since that music has been out). Drake rapping over a beat from one of the best producers of the game Conductor was a dream for Hip-Hop fans.
“You young boys take some of that money and set it aside,
Not havin’ enough to pay your tax is a federal crime,
You nggas obsessed with me, and it’s not on no hetero vibe, Handle beef so quiet, you think that I’m lettin’ it slide, Next thing you know, we tip-toein’ past enemy lines, Diss me so long ago, we making your memories fly, Conspiracy theories start floatin’ round like the Kennedy guy, I’ll prolly hold a grudge against you guys ’til I’m seventy-five, Ayy, nggas lyin’ for a livin’, I couldn’t relate,
We all gotta lay in the bed we make, but that couldn’t be Drake,
You forced a lot of fake love when real ones stood in your face..” — Drake on ‘8am in Charlotte’
‘Calling For You’ ft. 21 Savage — As great of a lyricist as Drake can be at times he seems to just say anything majority of the time and that is no different here. The beat switch when 21 brings life on the track is what we are here for. 21 has evolved his raps over the years and become one of the most consistent features in the game.
“Fck ngga wanna get fired on (21),
Starch a ngga up, put the iron on him (21), Fah-fah-fah-fah-fah-fah-fah-fah, Fah-fah-fah-fah-fah-fah-fah-fah, Plenty nggas dyin’ over that way (Yeah),
Quick to leave a opp in the ashtray (Pssy), Keep a .19 like I’m Mac Dre (21), Make a ngga mama have a bad day (21)..” — 21 Savage on “Calling For You’
‘Drew a Picasso’ — One of the few tracks that gives some sort of vintage feel. Drake thrives on songs expressing regret or reminiscing over an ex and this puts him in his element. And the sample was a masterful job by the production team flipping a previously used Sampha vocal on ‘The Motion’.
“You cannot find no one better than this,
Tryna do right by you, but we can’t mix, I try,
Takin’ three months off, then fckin’ again, After you said we not fckin’ again,
Never say “never,” just say what it is,
Act like you need some insurance on it,
We didn’t get here on accident,
Don’t make me bring out them racks again,
Your two best friends are some savages,
Damn, how many days has it been?,
Swearin’ it’s different, not genuine,
Movin’ like Snoopy and Charlie Brown,
Feel like you tryna dog the kid…”
At the end of the day there is a polarizing discussion around Drake’s music and legacy, where you will get two totally different opinions from every pair of people you ask. His accolades as far as streams speak for themselves but there has been something left to be desired from what some would consider the name at the top of the rap game. Drake continues to play it safe and make music for the young adults in the club while his original fan base and a lot of hip-hop heads continue to see that he could do so much more (see ‘8am in Charlotte’ and his early projects (especially the mixtapes). It was honestly tough to find enough songs to list standout tracks and only one of them standout for Drake’s contributions so I have to grade ‘For All The Dogs’ a pedestrian 5/10 as a 23 song album where more than half the tracks are skippable this is simply unsuccessful.
Side Note — Teezo Touchdown is a rising star with standout contributions on ‘For All the Dogs’ and ‘Utopia’. His sound is a blend of rap, R&B, rock and other influences. Two things must be said about Teezo, he is extremely talented and he always brings his unique sound/personality to tracks. He shined on Drake’s ‘Amen’ just like he did on ‘Modern Jam’ off of ‘Utopia’. Fresh off the release of his debut album “How Do You Sleep at Night?” and a few big time features, Texas native Teezo Touchdown has become a fan favorite and one of the biggest rising stars of 2023.