Case Study Two: Drake
*a 6 minute read*
*Vol.2 of the Prime Time series, keep the criteria below in mind when reading, enjoy!*
For every artist or every memorable artist rather, they have that moment in time where it all comes together. They create a special body of work and leave an imprint on their respective genres. They are in pocket (standard abbreviation for in the zone) the whole project, the songs come together correctly, the instrumentation accompanies the track appropriately, and the theme of the album is consistent throughout the run time of the project.
This will be referred to as “Prime Time”— a state where the musician has created a body of work that fits the criteria I have mentioned above. They have reached their prime form, generating the best thing I have heard from them… so far (hoping that they still surprise me in the future). It may also be an album that I felt impacted the music world more when compared to the other projects they have released.
We move on to our next artist, none other than the Canadian superstar, Drake.
Prime Drake – IYRTITL
Drake gave us a project that showed me he can balance his main musical sides effectively throughout the whole run time. We heard Drake where his vocals are the main focal point or Drake showing his ability to rap. Both sides were balanced and delivered pleasantly on IYRTITL.
The first seven songs, you can let them play with no worries. No skips are needed. Play it straight and you will understand where I am coming from. But the first four tracks specifically (Legend, Energy, 10 Bands, & Know Yourself)? What Drake produced in these four tracks was absurd. This version of Drake is hard to stop; some might say he is unstoppable. In this form, he is difficult to keep up with, by anyone in the music industry. The bars, the hooks, the flows that he is working with — I did not think he could deliver this consistently on one project.
Highlights On The Tracklist
Firstly, we must address the track Know Yourself, arguably the song that put Toronto on the map for the whole world to see. The four minute and 25-second song were enough for Drake to offer us everything we needed. It came with a beat switch up as well that cannot be taken for granted. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, it launched the song into a different dimension (I WAS RUNNING THRU THE 6 WITH MY WOES). You know you blasted it in the car at night, you played it on the way to work in the subway, or it was the first song played at the beginning of the layup line in your high school basketball game. I don’t know how Aubrey pulled this off, but shout out to the producers he worked on it with him as well (Boi-1da, Vinylz, and Syk Sense)— they created a masterpiece. He wanted to find a way to represent his city, and it was presented the best way it could have been.
Drake posted this quote (via Fader) about Know Yourself:
“I always used to be so envious, man, that Wiz Khalifa had that song “Black and Yellow,” and it was just a song about Pittsburgh. Like, the world was singing a song about Pittsburgh! And I was just so baffled, as a songwriter, at how you stumbled upon a hit record about Pittsburgh. Like, your city must be elated! They must be so proud. And I told myself, over the duration of my career, I would definitely have a song that strictly belonged to Toronto but that the world embraced. So, “Know Yourself” was a big thing off my checklist.”
10 Bands, arguably his most braggadocious track to date, explains how Drake has reached a time in his life where the money is not a problem (ha, must be nice) But the delivery of the song allows it to be an anthem with an unforgettable chorus. It also offers a strong hook with verses of imagery and Instagram captions. Classic Drake. All delivered in less than three minutes. What more can you ask for? I spoke too soon as I heard No Tellin shortly after.
No Tellin’ dives into the mind of Drake. The beat from the beginning lures you in. It makes you pay attention to every single word that Drake is about to say. In this track, he wonders how much he will attain and believes his path of success is unknown. There is “no tellin” what will happen, but Drake is not worried. The lyrics “I’m just looking in the mirror like I’m really him, Man I’m really him, you just fillin’ in” tell us that Drake finds it hard to believe who he has become. He has to look in the mirror to reassure himself of what he has. But this reminds him that he belongs here and everyone else is filling in. Every second of the song was utilized correctly for Drake to provide one of his best songs to date. Listen to it again and thank me later (you see what I did there?).
Drake’s tone throughout the entire album was impressive. An expressive and emotional project to let you know that he has made it and does not have to prove it to anyone, anymore. It lives up to the title of the album: that once you read this, it’s already over. The production was carefully calculated as he balanced out the mix of slower R&B songs (such as Wednesday Night Interlude and Jungle) and faster rap-driven songs (such as 6 Man and No Tellin).
The consistency of this project is what allows me to say that it is Drake at his best. There was enough experimentation with the instrumentals and flows, but he still delivered that signature Drake flavour on every track. The flavour offers a familiar excitement that you are used to (another one) but now it has been utilized in a refreshingly. Remember this was supposed to be a throwaway collection. But it produced something far more memorable and showed a side of Drake that was highly creative. Plus, he provided us with “time zone” Drake, which is his “come for blood, close my eyes, you cannot touch me & let me educate you” form that is always thrilling to hear (other examples are 5 AM in Toronto and 4 PM in Calabasas). With the song 6 PM in New York, the bars he delivers are flamboyant and intense but cap off the album with a trademark finish. Time for the home stretch.
Drake releasing something like this lets me know he is capable of replicating another similair project. With 17 tracks and a 68:38 minute run time, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is his prime form, but it must be said that his discography is nothing short of incredible. I am hoping for something comparable to this album in the future from the great Canadian. You gotta love it. You gotta love it yeah.
What are your thoughts?
With the discography that Drake has, I am sure many of you will have different opinions. Some of you may even agree (ha, highly doubtful). Regardless, I would like to hear what you think about this article and your view on his best body of work. Thanks for reading, share with a Drake stan, and reply to the question below.
Which Drake song would you choose to describe yourself best?