Evident in his latest release, the dull “For All The Dogs,” at this point, Drake may be the greatest contradiction in pop music. He’s the biggest male artist on the charts today despite having a relaxed, unassuming presence in-person. He’s matched #1 hits with the King of Pop despite most of those aforementioned songs being under-produced, forgettable club tracks. He’s got endless connections to some of the biggest singers, rappers, and beat-makers in the business despite following the same sonic schtick for the last seven years. He’s been given so much despite not doing much at all.
Especially in the last five years. Even with Drake back on the road with the It’s All a Blur tour, surviving a feud with Kanye West (though mostly due to Ye’s embarrassing self-owns), siphoning the clout of younger stars like Lil Yachty and 21 Savage, and fully recovering from concerns of “hiding the world from [his] kid,” he’s in the exact same spot. ANOTHER album. ANOTHER runtime north of 80 minutes. ANOTHER collection of Instagram-caption bars that are at best corny and at worst cringey. It’s just another Drake record.
We could end the review right here, honestly. There is truly nothing to say about For All The Dogs that hasn’t already been said before. An overstuffed album that has NO BUSINESS being over an hour long? Been there. Misogynistic lines delivered in Drake’s pseudo-romantic croon? Had to be expected. Moody, R&B-esque beats fronted by Aubrey’s sleepy, monosyllabic delivery? Sounds about right. The self-proclaimed 6 God trying to hop onto a popular international genre for further chart dominance? That’s our Drizzy.
The best thing you could say about For All the Dogs is that at least it’s sonically consistent. There isn’t a random “Knife Talk” or “Jimmy Cooks” that throws off the album’s overall sleepy and understated sonic vibes. Even when the album tries to build hype with “Calling For You,” “First Person Shooter” or “Rich Baby Daddy,” it’s still held down by a spacey synth line and boring bass drums that vary in volume. The most “energetic” the album gets is on “IDGAF,” which actually starts like a Björk ballad with an ominous synth/piano intro before randomly barreling into its Dollar Store Playboi Carti beat and guest chorus from Yeat (also a Playboi Carti copycat).
“Gently” is the album’s biggest forehead-slapping embarrassment, with Drake sounding half-drunk in a fake Latin accent to sound leagues below the charisma of guest star Bad Bunny. Not even two Chief Keef appearances (one via sample on “7969 Santa” and the other as a guest spot on “All the Parties”) or the dominant voice of Sexyy Red on “Rich Baby Daddy” can elevate the energy of any party or late night romance some poor sap wants this album to soundtrack.
The glut of boring tracks on here is so stifling that it even makes you annoyed at the few highlights on the album. Lead single “Slime You Out” has some damn fine singing from both Drake and guest SZA, especially from the former who lightly accentuates the end of each line in the first verse with a smooth high note before floating into the chorus. Shame the song never builds into a sweeping crescendo with more layered production or Drake and SZA singing back to each other by the final verse. And that’s ignoring how the beat sounds like a demo for “Get Along Better” from Certified Lover Boy.
“8am in Charlotte” should be a highlight, with a dusty soul beat from Westside Gunn-producer Conductor Williams and Drake in his confessional time-stamped mode. Unfortunately, the beat is so sparse and the song runs a bit too long for any of Drake’s brag bars to leave a mark, not to mention Drake’s laid-back delivery leaving a lot of energy to be desired. The best version of Drake upping a new talent while adding to his aura is with “Amen” and its soulful Teezo Touchdown feature.
If you’re looking for a deep lyrical breakdown of all the things currently on the mind of the biggest male music star in the world…you won’t find it on For All The Dogs. The album is such a lazy slog that almost all of Drake’s bars just fly through the ears with little to no impact. Maybe it’s a good thing all the music here hypnotizes listeners to sullenly nodding heads in low-lit nightclubs so you can just wave off lines like:
- “Whipped and chained you like American slaves.”
- “We in the club with your gay friends/Always put you on a straight flight.”
- “On sight like dot-com, put a baby in you, you a hot mom.”
- “Of some ho-ho-hoes still waitin’ on a gift/Guess them ho-ho-hoes still believe in Saint Nick, yeah.”
- ” Who give a f**k Michelle Obama put you on her playlist?”
For All The Dogs is like what would happen if someone took the undercooked R&B on the second disc of Scorpion and stretched it to the unnecessary girth of More Life. Drake is still lonely, horny, and hurt by every woman he’s ever met who isn’t his mom, fine. Drake brags about handling beef without ever having to test his battle rap skills ever again, whatever. Does he STILL want to talk about it for 84 MINUTES?
Drake recently said he plans to take a break soon and honestly, good for him. Give him time to truly look himself in the mirror and see where he wants to be as he nears the age of 40. Mentor to the next generation of rap? Co-parent of the year? Decent man in a stable relationship? It’s gotta be someone better than the bitter, corny, unenthused egomaniac Drake sees in his Bruce Wayne-like mansion now.
Drake - "For All the Dogs" - 3/10