Drizzy. Drake. Champaign Papi. Aub. OVO. Mr October. The many facets of the Canadian rapper who puts the wrap and seal for No1 hits with every release he makes. His latest release, Dark Lane Demo Tapes, is precisely what it sounds to be… a collection of demos. A literal collection of rough drafts about the struggles of success and hints at what his next album might sound like.
I became a fan of Drake after sitting down and listening to ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late”. The title of the album immediately hook line and suckered me because of my magnetism towards anything referencing mental health, personal battles and struggles. Not only was it a surprise drop album… but it touched on the sensitivity of death being a certainty within the rap kingdom. The poignant lyric that hit me hardest was “If I die, I’m a legend”. And it’s true. In any relationship, and any circumstance… people suddenly love and praise you, but only when you’re gone. The second track Energy is, however, my ultimate favourite: “I got enemies, got a lot of enemies, got a lotta people turn drain me of my energy”. I relate strongly to this. All my life, I’ve had disappointments from so called friends - and to me, by hearing a rap giant like Drake confess to the same struggles… it made me feel less outcast. Which is precisely what music is supposed to do: make you feel at one with yourself and the artist. You’ve got to have the ability to connect with your listeners, your fans… make them able to go to a dark room, angry, crying, alone… and suddenly not feel alone.”
So, the new album. Why are we repping it?
“Dark Lane” shows Drakes ability to produce songs at various developmental points, from fully evolved experiments, to half baked cookie dough ideas sourced from early day projects… then we flip the switch into classicist exercises, formal vs informal rhymes… it’s omnipotent and fluid, liquidising the listener with his innermost feelings; all without sacrificing his signature pillow-edged style that he so perfectly excels at.
The song your’e probably heard the most is Toosie Slide, which has taken over the globe by literally choreographing the listener to get their ‘right foot up, left foot slide / left foot up, right foot slide”.
It’s in these isolationist times that Drake has become the optimal lyricist, the optimist of melodies and the conductor of harmonies. He hasn’t left the spotlight of the popular music scene in more than a decade. Ascending like a God into hip hops cosmos, and eternally evolving to become a global superstar; acknowledging in his journey every political, social, economic and environmental presence in contemporary media. The uncertain cultural vacuum created by the coronavirus pandemic has proactively fed us with a full album - which is a boldness that many of his peers haven’t dared to do.
Drake is, to me, Alice in Wonderland. No, hear me out. He is curious like Alice and ventures down the rabbit hole into a world that is crazy, colourful and chaotic. His yearning to challenge social concept and conducts has become the hallmark of Drake’s sound. And what remains most curious of all, is whether we will ever know what’s truly happening inside Drake’s mind: are we living a dream world, and a fantasy?.. Or a beautiful nightmare.
You be the judge. But for now, let’s go down some Dark Lanes… together.