It’s been over a year since Drake’s junior album Nothing Was The Same dropped. Vibrant and poppy, yet remaining quintessentially Drake, NWTS marked a shift from being just another rapper to a musical auteur. Whether shouting at the top of his lungs or whispering sweet nothings, Drake has maintained a persona both in his music and public image of a hard-core (dare I say gangster?) rapper, as well as an R&B crooner, thus appealing to both hip-hop heads and romantics everywhere. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late (released without any official announcements, much like Beyonce’s Beyonce last year) signals the singer’s commitment to mining the intricacies of his dual identities, while also highlighting his desire to experiment and expand his sound.
In many ways, If You’re Reading This remains true to Drake’s proven strategy of success. Songs fall into one of two categories: “I go hard in the motherfuckin’ paint” and “I can’t hold you too close because I’m afraid of loving you.” These two modes—boisterous, triumphant tirades or quiet love songs—sometimes compete against each other on the same track with Drake spending the first two minutes of a song shrugging off the haters, only to switch up the music tempo and cocoon within a gloomy dialogue of inner thoughts.