Drake’s ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ Mixtape: Review Revue

Bradley Stern | February 18, 2015 11:48 am
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The Surprise Album Drop is perhaps the industry’s most effective way to combat increasingly disruptive leaks and create a frenzied panic among music lovers. After acts like David Bowie, D’Angelo, Beyoncé and U2 set the trend in motion, Drake shocked the world last week with his own surprise set, dropping an entire mixtape (album?) at midnight on February 12 called If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.

The collection was immediately projected to hit #1 on this week’s Billboard 200. (And, lo and behold, it did!)

But now that the dust is settled and reviewers had some time to absorb the contents of the collection, did they like what they heard? We’re taking a look around the globe and seeing what critics had to say about Drake’s latest effort.

:: The Telegraph gave the mixtape four out of five stars, praising the way the rapper drew from his personal life: “Drake is doing the same thing with his own music, creating something unique from the fabric of his own experiences. If hip hop has been the music of our age, its brash montage of mashed up beats and challenging attitude reflecting the superficiality and venality of our times, Drake’s latest suggests it is beginning to turn in on itself.”

:: The Guardian was equally praising, referring to Drake as “intimate, intense, wistful”: “If anything, the beats are more angular and experimental than anything he’s recorded since Thank Me Later (the chopped and screwed voices on the track Madonna nod to his Houston-loving roots), further adding to the sense of If You’re Reading This… as a stopgap. Still, with mixtapes of this quality, who needs official collections?”

:: The Los Angeles Times had a mostly favorable review, giving the collection three out of four stars and calling out the rapper’s frustration with the more negative aspects of fame: “A pent-up collection that blurs the line between album and mixtape (the latter are usually free, but Drake’s charging $12.99 for this one), If You’re Reading revels and/or wallows in isolation. At the center is a man uncertain of others’ intentions, tired of posting bail for friends, sick of women asking for his Wi-Fi code. Wary.”

:: The Boston Globe acknowledged that Drake “hijacked the spotlight” with the surprise release, paying attention to the left-leaning sound of the set: “The songs bleed into each other with the oneness of a Sade record, muffled bass thumps and samples of old Ginuine records whispering in the background to stitch them together. The R&B leanings that have formed a part of Drake’s DNA are barely there, just a free-flowing stream of raps, hooks, and verses, blending without much differentiation.”

:: Pitchfork gave the set a glowing review, an 8.3 rating and the “Best New Music” seal of approval: “Music is the real joy for Drake, and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is best enjoyed as an exercise in the casual excellence of the artist as rhymer and purveyor of hooks. The vocals are often just vampy flow experiments, but at their best these verses exhibit the weightless exhilaration of a technician at work.”

:: And finally, The Atlantic declared it a “workaholic triumph”: “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is part of a long cultural tradition of embattled, paranoid brilliance, à la Kanye West or Steve Jobs or anyone else who Kanye West compares himself to. It’s the work of someone who knows that that success is fleeting, that he’s been lucky, and that if his career falters there’ll be no one to blame but himself. Any workaholic should be able to relate.”

What do you think of the mixtape? Sound off in the comments below.