MUSIC REVIEW: Drake’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes mixtape will suffice as a precursor to his anticipated summer album

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Drake's Dark Lane Demo Tapes, which dropped last Friday, has its moments, but also comes up short at points.

Phew! We finally have new music from a rap legend. It was rumored on social media that a Drake mixtape was set to drop upon midnight on Friday. Rumors were confirmed hours before midnight from Drake himself. Quarantined fans can finally relax and listen to his latest release Dark Lane Demo Tapes. From previously released tracks to highly anticipated songs from his Instagram lives, the 6 God’s new mixtape has lots to offer.

“Deep Pockets” is the intro of the tape, and it simply isn’t Drake at his best. It’s not  a bad song, in the slightest; however, it is probably one of the less appealing ones after listening to the entire project.”Deep Pockets” is a throwaway from his 2018 album Scorpion. Fans certainly could live without it, but it definitely has its moments. The highly emotional chorus on the track is an aspect of the track fans will be sure to relisten to. The song’s lyrics are on point as well; it is a Drake song after all. Drake refers to his eight-time platinum hit “Hotline Bling” with “Back when hotlines were still flippin’ — Now I’m seein’ money off of hotlines blingin’ but it feels different.” Overall, it isn’t the best song, but it deserves a few listens and a subjective view from each listener before it’s thrown into any category.

“When To Say When” was previously released on Soundcloud as a single back in March. Drake does his thing on this one. He’s pretty much telling a life story over a beat. He raps about the people who have helped him, such as Lil Wayne and his mother. He has a possible controversial line with a mention of the allegations of Michael Jackson’s child molestation. His mention also compares himself to Jackson as they are two of the greatest of all time in their respective genres. He also recalls when he and Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin gambled after Drake’s Toronto Raptors beat the Sixers in game seven of the 2019 semi-finals. Lastly, Drake comments on the world we live in today: “Look, we can argue back and forth, but who’s the richer man?–Isn’t that what matters in this world that we livin’ in?” This second track is worth a listen or two, or three. Maybe even more. Regardless, it’s not a track worth skipping, and is one of the best on the project.

“Chicago Freestyle” was also released alongside “When To Say When” on Soundcloud. It features notable R&B artist Giveon who sings the chorus throughout the song. His hook flows well into Drake’s first verse where he freestyles about his past problems with females. Through his powerful lyrics, Drake is able to illustrate his past actions and possible mistakes. He also wishes for better moments in his pre-chorus when he says, “Maybe I’ll love you one day — Maybe we’ll someday grow.” Although it’s a freestyle, Drake shows why he is one of the best. Drake is known to be a fantastic freestyler, as we have seen him dominate on tracks such as “Behind Barz” and “30 for 30 Freestyle.” This track itself is for sure worth listening to and may be featured on fans’ playlists if they enjoy it enough.

Chris Brown and Drake link up again on “Not You Too.” After the success of the 2019 “No Guidance,” it was inevitable that Brown would be collabing with Drake again. Drake shows off his R&B skills throughout the song. He sings about a woman and his recent problems with finding love with a particular woman. He calls her the “real MVP,” paying homage to his close friend Kevin Durant’s 2014 MVP speech. The song flows well after listening to “Chicago Freestyle,” but my only complaint would be Chris Brown not having his own verse. He was in some of the adlibs and doubles up on some of Drake’s lyrics; however, there wasn’t exactly a portion of the song dedicated to only him. This duo never really disappoints, so this song is still a solid one regardless.

“Toosie Slide” was released at the beginning of April. It has blown up on TikTok. Drake hyped this song around the fact that he knew it had the potential to do crazy numbers on the app, and it did as the song has been used in over two million videos with many of them being from celebrities, such as the Ball brothers and Lebron and his family. The song’s chorus teaches fans how to do the dance that Drake has attributed to the song: “It go right foot up, left foot, slide — Left foot up, right foot, slide — Basically, I’m sayin’ either way, we ’bout to slide, ayy– Can’t let this one slide, ayy.” It debuted at number one Billboard’s Hot 100 for good reason. TikTok and hip-hop blend together very well and are an amazing duo for success. Drake realized this and simply directed his next hit towards the idea, which has worked for him. 

“Desires” featuring Future is simply another collaborative song from this dynamic duo. The two have accomplished so much together already on What A Time To Be Alive and “Life is Good,” along with tons of other hits. This track continues the two’s unbeatable chemistry and success. Previously released on Soundcloud, fans knew what was coming with this track, but it doesn’t take away from the heat it provides. Drake explodes off the beat from the start with powerful rapping about a girl he failed at developing a better relationship with. After the brief hook, Future comes in and continues what Drake was developing.  Future shows regret for his past actions as he raps about not being treated equally in a former relationship. The outro leads this hit into the next song on the project “Time Flies.”

“Time Flies.” It’s one of the most emotional tracks on the mixtape. Upon first listen, one gets similar vibes to when listening to Drake’s 2011 album Take Care. He repeatedly tries apologizing to a former partner. The song’s title represents that life is moving really fast for the artist, and he needs to take in every moment as if it was his last. In the first verse, late rapper Nipsey Hussle is honored when Drake pays homage to his clothing brand The Marathon Clothing. Drake says, “Just threw on a hoodie, it’s a Crenshaw.” The emotional side of Drake comes out on this one, and it works. This is one of the songs that listners need to put on repeat at least once because it follows the theme of reflecting on the past, but it’s more emotional than the others.

Drake comes out strong with great lyrics on “Landed.” After a few emotional tracks, Drake shows off his writing ability. He crafts pure greatness on this song. On the chorus, Drake asks if he sounds different due to his using a “Cartier pen” to write the song. Obviously the price and the extravance of the pen doesn’t make a difference in his lyrics, but it’s a fair question to ask due to what comes next. Notable lyrics include “And I bought that girl a shovel ’cause she gold-diggin,’” and “I be in and out arenas like I’m Scottie Pippen.” The latter line compares his tours and concerts to the NBA legend’s ability to dominate in different opposing teams’ stadiums. Drake simply sounds angry on this track and he seems to be done fooling around as he dominates throughout the two-and-half minute anthem.

The powerful trio of Drake, Young Thug, and Future are unstoppable on “D4L,” the best song on the project. Thug and Future give fans no time to settle when they blast off on the beat for the chorus. The three are simply taking a victory lap to all the success they have had in the past. They all shout out their respective record labels with FBG (Future), YSL (Young Thug) and OVO (Drake). They name drop brands that they each own, such as Ferrari, Louis Vuitton, and Richard Mille. Through the quick transitions featured on the track, the group shows listeners that their wealth is nothing to go crazy over since they are used to it, and the money keeps stacking up for them. Young Thug and Future own the first portion of the track, but Drake replaces Future on the second verse, which is unexpectedly exciting. Drake uses a similar flow, but his voice, in contrast to Future’s, makes the track truly amazing. Drake has done his thing with both Young Thug and Future in the past, but now that they are all together on one song, they prove that they’re truly undefeated.

“Pain 1993” is the most hyped song on the album. It was first previewed on Instagram live, and fans noted that Drake’s flow was similar to Playboi Carti’s. The track features Carti, which many expected to be on his Whole Lotta Red album, which has been teased for a while. Drake is very good on the track, and Playboi Carti’s baby voice adlibs blend with Drake’s rap perfectly. Drake over a Pi’erre Bourne beat is something fans have always dreamed of, and it was certainly worth the wait. I do believe the song was overhyped as Playboi Carti isn’t amazing, as many expected. Many have trashed his verse; but it’s not that bad. It should grow on people as they listen to the track more. The theme of this one, to be honest, is fans likely came for Playboi Carti but stayed for Drake. Although not as good as expected, the song is currently number one on Apple Music and will likely debut at that spot on Billboard as well.

Drake receives help from his father, Dennis Graham, on “Losses.” Different parts of the track have words from his father from an Instagram live session back in March. This song reminds of some other songs from the mixtape, such as “Deep Pockets” and “When To Say When” where the beat slows down for Drake to dominate. He lets fans hear his unreal lyrical abilities on this track. “Losses” doesn’t exactly have a theme, but it definitely doesn’t talk about his losses. Rather, he speaks on the things that could’ve happened if he didn’t succeed and how his life has changed due to success.

“From Florida With Love” is another Scorpion throwaway from 2017. True to the title, Drake comments that the song was written in Florida. It seems to be an unfinished track as there is a lyricless instrumental portion. Regardless, when Drake appears on the song, he is continuing his march to victory. Name drops of Kobe and Lil Wayne are notable lyrics from his verses. In the hook of the song, he raps, “I’m back, baby, where the love?” He is likely speaking to a female counterpart who he hasn’t seen in some time as he repeats the line multiple times. He creates the idea that due to his hard work around the world, he hasn’t been able to spend time with others, especially those who aren’t assisting him in perfecting his craft. Along with other lyrics, Drake shouts out Lil Wayne’s record label (a common bar on the mixtape), which Drake was a part of before starting his own label. Overall, his rapping ability on this track is as good as the rest and deserves a listen.

The runner-up to “D4L” for best song on the album has to be “Demons” featuring New York rappers Fivio Foreign and Sosa Geek. Drake on a Brooklyn-Drill beat from JB Made It was not something we knew we needed, but hearing Drake explode off the rip on this song is something special. Using his U.K accent, Drake makes everyone’s jaws drop when he starts singing the hook. He compares the two New Yorkers to another pair of Brooklyn stars when he says, “Sosa (Sosa), Fivi (Fivi), lookin’ like KD and Kyrie (I am).” Such high praise for the two sets the bar high for them on the rest of the track, and they exceeded expectations. Fivio Foreign comes with a similar flow to Drake on his verse. Sosa Geek wraps up the track with ease as he continues Fivio’s lyrics about their successful lives which have included some violent times. Getting a feature on one of Drake’s projects is something to celebrate; however, featuring and dominating on a song is an even bigger accomplishment for Fivio Foreign and Sosa Geek.

“War” is the final song on the album. It was previously released in December of 2019. He uses a similar U.K accent as on “Demons,” which continues to be effective. “War” is basically three minutes of Drake going off while name dropping and explaining his amazing lifestyle. He mentions his bodyguard Chubbs, his reconciling with The Weeknd, Kendall Jenner, Jay-Z, and many others. He compares The Weeknd to Michael Jackson as they are both patrons of the R&B genre. He mentions his unbelievable private jet as well. The outro of the mixtape is the perfect choice to do such. No hooks, no features, and no multiple verses. One long verse was all Drake needed to complete his first release in years, leaving fans in awe.

Dark Lane Demo Tapes was simply a project of throwaway songs, previously released songs, and other highly anticipated ones. Without a certain theme, many of the songs are good in and of themselves. Features from new artists as well as collaborations with former partners spice up the mixtape. Drake announced the mixtape on Instagram and also mentioned that his album will drop this summer. If these songs are designed to hold fans up until then, that album is something worth waiting for. Regardless, fans should enjoy this project while it’s new and refreshing; however, given Drake’s past, it should feel new and refreshing for a good amount of time. 

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