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Highs and Lows of Drake’s “For All The Dogs” Album

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In the context of modern-day mainstream music, only a handful of artists — like Canadian rapper, singer, and songwriter Drake — have been able to remain consistent in their artistry and success. With the Oct. 6 release of “For All The Dogs,” Drake has not only added an eighth solo album to his extensive discography, but has dropped one of the most anticipated albums of this year.

“For All The Dogs” is composed of a whopping 23 songs and nine features, making up for the 11 months that have elapsed since Drake’s last project, “Her Loss.” Considering that his previous album was an unexpectedly perfect combination of gritty hip-hop and mellow R&B, Drake fans were curious about how “For All The Dogs” would compare, and if it would exceed their expectations. 

The album had great songs, some were reminiscent of Drake’s favored, older music, and others were experiments gone right. 

  With the slow, nightcore-esque chorus featured in the song’s background, as well as the deeper bass embedded in the beats, “Drew A Picasso” is a nostalgic standout.The song could be  seen as equivalent  to the notoriously sad “Redemption” from Drake’s “Views” album. “Drew A Picasso” is melancholic, as Drake poetically vents about the relatable hurt and embarrassment that encompasses him while watching an ex move on. However, Drake doesn’t entirely lose himself in his emotions, nor does he let the song dull out, utilizing a sing-song cadence in the rap and a melodious tone in his singing. 

All The Parties (feat. Chief Keef)” takes a detour with its upbeat essence, making the song a fun listen. The tune opens with clapped beats, Drake’s signature “ay” and “grr” adlibs and warped synth add-ins, pairing seamlessly with Drake’s quick rap about his riches. Chief Keef marks the chorus with silly, easy-to-shout lyrics about girls who refuse to study, instead opting for the party life. Keef’s inclusion is a prime example of Drake experimenting with his music. Keef fashions a unique, Southern-like drawl in his flow, yet his voice complements Drake’s smooth, rhythmic delivery. “All The Parties” surprisingly transitions into a slower form, as the synths become fuzzy and a rewind effect is enforced but Drake’s vocal tempo ceases to delay.

On “Another Late Night (feat. Lil Yachty),” Drake becomes reckless, showcasing his cocky, young-at-heart attitude that won over his fans. Once again, Drake takes a leap and experiments with Gen Z music trends, implementing new-wave trap beats, arcade sounds and a street racing feel into the song. Over such instrumentals, Drake aggressively raps about rumors that have almost tainted his brag-worthy career, addressing them as false and threatening to physically harm anyone who stands in his or his romantic partner’s way. Previously collaborating with Drake on the light-hearted anthem “Oprah’s Bank Account,” Lil Yachty also adopts a belligerent persona with the help of his cut-throat tone and famously slurred autotune.

Unfortunately, the album does have some weak points. There were a few underwhelming tracks and songs that did not align with its features and samples.

Virginia Beach” is an appropriate introduction to the album, but the song is not entirely in-tune with its instrumental. “Virginia Beach” comes off strong, reflecting on Drake’s experiences in a toxic relationship. With such an intense start, Drake reveals his vulnerable side, urging fans to stay by him. Simultaneously, the song acts as a full-circle moment for how far he has come, having performed at Virginia Beach in 2014. Frank Ocean’s “Wiseman” is sampled in the song, altered to a faster speed and distorted pitch reminiscent of Ocean’s own music style. Because of this, the random hip-hop beats in “Virginia Beach” don’t match the sample’s orchestra composition and Ocean’s distinctly expressive singing, with the beats overshadowing Drake’s intimate tone.

Slime You Out (feat. SZA)” is the most popular track on the album thus far, yet little seems to happen in the song’s progression. The song takes on prolonged piano key presses, Drake’s melodious upper register and classic kick beats, which would be fitting for a short ballad. Because the song is five minutes long, “Slime You Out” could have had a better “wow factor” if there were dramatic instrumental changes. SZA’s raw and soulful vocals, however, are well-suited for the song’s feature, especially for a verse that emphasizes her refusal to be taken advantage of, doubling as a clap back to Drake’s lyrics of using an ex-lover. After SZA’s verse, Drake remains unshaken, as the instrumental and song’s topic drones on with no buildup.

IDGAF (feat. Yeat)” is another collaboration that received a lot of hype, but ended up exhibiting a clash between the two artists’ musical flair. With the song’s interstellar, electronic plug-ins, subwoofer-like bass and self-explanatory lyrics, Yeat was in his natural element. Yeat’s nasal, deeper and mumbled mode of nonchalant rap makes him a logical candidate for BYNX and Working on Dying’s music production, but Drake appears to be out of place. The transition into Drake’s verse is slightly awkward, with Drake’s voice being noticeably higher pitched than Yeat’s, and his raps having a more enthusiastic cadence than what the song requires. As “IDGAF” was originally Yeat’s song, he takes up a majority of it, with Drake having less of an opportunity to match his energy. 

Overall, “For All The Dogs” is a versatile effort from Drake. Since its release, “For All The Dogs” has topped the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard 200, and Global 200 charts — a predictable, yet nonetheless remarkable, achievement for the beloved hip-hop artist. 

Ingrid Avancena is an Entertainment Intern for the fall 2023 quarter. She can be reached at avanceni@uci.edu.