Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Opinion: For all the dogs: Drake’s eighth studio album leaves fans wanting more

Talia Boneh

“Money for fun!” squeaks Aubrey Drake Graham, known as Drake, on his song “IDGAF” with collaborator Noah Olivier Smith, or Yeat.

The seventh song on Drake’s newest album, “For All the Dogs,” introduces a bass-heavy, infectious and repetitive beat style. The beat is one familiar to newer rappers like Yeat and Playboi Carti, but clearly a style new to Drake.

“For all the Dogs,” was released on Oct. 6 and Drake promised fans that the album would pay tribute to ‘the old Drake.’

While the album delves deep into a fusion of styles like R&B, trap and even reggaeton, it is hard to say it lives up to Drake’s older albums like “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late,” or “Nothing Was the Same.”

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While there are occasional moments of brilliance, the music struggles to flow together as a cohesive unit and ultimately lacks the storytelling ability that launched Drake’s career.

Drake’s influence

Drake is often recognized for changing the sound of rap by connecting both, the singing and rapping elements of music, a style that has influenced younger generations.

“I think Drake has had an influence on our generation just because of who he is and his influence on the music industry as we grew up,” said Kaitlyn Gonzalez, a junior at Palo Alto High School.

“I think that he is definitely a comforting artist. I know a lot of Paly students, at least juniors, who listen to Drake and I see a lot of Drake songs on study playlists.”

— Kaitlyn Gonzalez

Drake’s heavy influence may also be due to the fact that he’s never really taken a break from the music industry.

Hardly two years ever go by without a major Drake release. However, it seems as though his recent outputs have strayed a lot from what fans consider a “classic Drake record,” which contributes to why each new Drake album serves as an opportunity for fans to decide how and why the album fell short.

Album review

Drake often raps about his own life, including his struggles, successes and personal relationships, which allows listeners to connect with his music on a personal level. But on “For All the Dogs” the lyrics on most songs are more random than they are meaningful.

It seems as though Drake rarely has anything interesting to say and the focus remains unclear for the majority of the album.

For instance, on “Rich Baby Daddy,” he tells a woman that he “still got some love deep inside of me” and to “please drag it out of me.” He then goes on to say that she “just might get that G-Wagon out of me” if her attempts at sparking a connection are successful.

On “Bahamas Promises,” he sings about broken pinky promises and how his past lover put the “no in ‘monogamy.”

On a majority of the tracks, it seems as though the artist is singing about heartbreak. But the corny and dramatically emphasized lyrics make it hard to take the album seriously.

On the other hand, Drake kicks off “For All the Dogs” with “Virginia Beach” which includes a feature from Frank Ocean’s 2012 song “Wiseman,” a significant addition since Ocean hasn’t produced music since his 2016 album Blonde.

The opening track is a clear standout in terms of production, lyrics and Drake’s passionate vocal performance.

“For All the Dogs” progresses with an incredible lineup of features from 21 Savage, SZA, J. Cole, Yeat, Chief Keef, Bad Bunny, Sexyy Red, Lil Yachty and PartyNextDoor.

Some argue that the features are Drake’s strongest point of the album, while others argue that his features outshined him, weakening his contribution to his own album.

“I feel like Drake ruined the song “IDGAF,” junior Ramses Luna said. “When he said, “money for fun” it kind of ruined the vibe and the intro [from a sample of  “The Tunnel” (1977) by Azimuth] was way too long and had nothing to do with the song. I feel like Yeat’s part was really good, but Drake is not meant to be on that type of beat.”

Other moments fall flat including Adonis’s (Drake’s son) cute but oddly positioned verse at the end of “Daylight,” Chief Keef’s sample of “Don’t Like” in “7969 Santa” and Drake’s awful Spanish in “Gently.”

But with a 23-song tracklist and an hour-and-a-half listen, there are undoubtedly highlights as well.

“First Person Shooter” featuring J. Cole introduces a measure of energy when the album badly needs it.

Jessica Domingo’s beautiful vocals in “Rich Baby Daddy” are arguably the best feature on the album, while SZA and Sexyy Red’s verses are a close second.

‘Old Drake’ shines through in songs like “Bahamas Promises,” “Tried Our Best” and “Amen”, as he leans into R&B roots and an overall smoother beat that blends his melodic style of rapping and singing.

Public opinion

A main argument for why the album fell short is that it isn’t as innovative as Drake’s previous work. Drake is known for pushing the boundaries of the hip-hop/rap genre, but “For All the Dogs” feels relatively safe and predictable.

“I thought the Drake album was very underwhelming, especially with how much hype the internet was giving it,” junior Cynthia Molina said. “Drake didn’t really take any risks.”

However, others say that “For all the Dogs” was Drake’s way of branching out. This is evident in the way he embraces styles of music throughout the album that are not typically associated with his brand of music, a risk in and of itself and a reflection of Drake’s musical journey, showcasing his evolution as an artist.

“At first I wasn’t a huge fan, but then it really grew on me – I feel like it is one of his better albums,” sophomore Anja Nilsen said. “I think he could have added more variety, like a lot of the beats sounded pretty similar, but I think the features added to the album.”

The old Drake

Drake should take more steps to expand stylistically and lyrically in future albums, as “For All the Dogs” was lacking in that sense.

However, how can the artist push the envelope when he’s constantly being told to stick to what he knows?

“I feel like I’m always being compared to my old self,” Drake told Rolling Stone in 2014. “People are always saying that I’m not the same artist that I used to be. But I’m a different person now. I’ve grown and matured. My music has evolved with me. I’m not trying to make the same music that I made when I was 17 years old.”

While nostalgia for Drake’s earlier work is understandable, fans and the music industry should allow Drake the freedom to evolve and explore as an artist, as artistic growth comes from pushing boundaries and embracing change.