Story by Benjamin Regan
Online Managing Editor
Illustration by Isole Kim
Canadian singer, songwriter, and rapper Aubrey Drake Graham (Drake) prides himself on the consistency of his discography. Unlike mainstream artists such as A$AP Rocky and Playboi Carti, Drake repeatedly delivers; his fans have come to expect new music each year. In the last few years alone, Drake has dropped two solo albums: Certified Lover Boy in 2021 and Honestly Nevermind in 2022. He’s also partnered with 21 Savage on the full-length album Her Loss in 2022, and was featured on Lil Baby’s Scary Hours 2, Gunna’s DS4Ever, Young Thug’s Business is Business, and Travis Scott’s Utopia. With his newest project, For All the Dogs, Drake has sacrificed quality for quantity.
There has been an undeniable decline in Drake’s music since his 2018 album, Scorpion, saw a staggering seven tracks reach Billboard’s top 100. Never, however, has Drake produced a project so unimaginative, with so much filler, so little substance, and such uninspiring beats. For All the Dogs was delayed twice amongst Drake’s “It’s All a Blur” tour throughout North America, but it appears a longer setback would have served the Canadian artist well.
Drake seems to feel a self-induced pressure to drop album after album, scrambling to complete his projects, even prematurely. With unparalleled popularity and an already historic resume, it’s unclear why he favors the frequency of his albums over the caliber.
Drake has stood above his peers in one category, and not just in the variation of hairstyles. The rapper has always been able to generate publicity, and his latest project was no exception. Leading up to the album, Drake hinted at new music in interviews and while on tour. He then debuted the album cover, drawn by his five-year old son Adonis, on Aug. 21.
Drake dropped the album on Friday, Oct. 6. The opening track, “Virginia Beach,” foreshadowed the album’s dullness. Played in the background of a wedding reception, this song may disguise itself as catchy. But for the 6God, that’s hardly praise. While Drake does have a slower, melodic side to his music, as shown by hits “Hold On,” “We’re Going Home,” and “Passionfruit,” the quick-tongued and dramatic dimension of Drake is completely absent from For All the Dogs. Amen, his next song, is just as easy to tune out. There is no enveloping beat, no lyrics laced with emphatic delivery; there is nothing to make this song memorable.
The next track contained three thrilling words for fans even remotely in touch with mainstream rap: featuring 21 Savage. The Atlantan has collaborated with many mainstream artists to deliver record-breaking numbers and classic performances. 21 Savage is no stranger to working with Drake either, as the two played off of one another in their 2022 album Her Loss. In this rendition of the duo, Drake and 21 Savage’s “Calling For You” embodied the album: forgettable. Drake began the track with soft vocals. Then, an out-of-place, nearly one minute monologue of an unidentified woman speaking served as the transition to 21 Savage’s verse. Once again, Drake stuck solely with his singing skills, refusing to venture into rap even when working alongside an iconic trap voice. The combination felt unnatural and awkward on this song.
For All the Dogs drags on, and each track begins to blend with the last. The project is simply boring; Drake’s lyrics are lazy, his enthusiasm lacking, and his sound sleepy. The first strong beat of the album doesn’t show up until track six. In the highlight of the album, Drake partners with J. Cole on “First Person Shooter.” The song finally brings energy in Drake’s delivery. The lulls of previous songs are replaced by much-needed passion. J. Cole’s lyrical contributions add an element not replicated before or after this song. “First Person Shooter” provides the fervor that defines Drake. Had he taken the album in this direction, with shades of “Energy” and “Started From the Bottom” from prior projects, the album may have made a stronger impression.
“7969 Santa,” “What Would Pluto Do,” and “8am in Charlotte” are pleasant songs, better served for the car than the club, but enjoyable nonetheless. As directionless as Drake is on For All the Dogs, his collaborators add little vision to the project. Chief Keef makes an appearance on “All The Parties,” Bad Bunny is featured on “Gently,” and Lil Yatchy on “Another Late Night.” While their presence is largely insignificant, Sexyy Red on “Rich Baby Daddy” actively makes the album worse. Drake and Yeat’s chemistry on “IDGAF” is laughable. The song has already been turned into a meme because of Drake’s misplaced entrance into Yeat’s verse.
Before Oct. 6, Drake said that this album would see the return of “Old Drake.” But this project is closer to a “New Drake,” in which he uses a repetitive and woozy style instead of capitalizing on his animated, electrifying talents that pushed him into stardom. His choice to favor singing over rapping and slow songs over powerful beats was the downfall of this project.
After 84 minutes of runtime, “For All the Dogs” has listeners wishing they could have that time back. With retirement not out of the question, this album would be an unsatisfying ending to a legend’s career.