The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

‘For All the Dogs’ seems to suffer an identity crisis

While Drake attempts to bark back with his latest album, he falls short with a redundant project
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Complex
“For All the Dogs” album cover depicted a dog, drawn by Drake’s son, Adonis Graham, who is also featured on fifth track “Daylight.”

Canadian rapper and artist Drake announced on Instagram that he would be releasing his eighth studio album “For All the Dogs.” Although set for release on Friday, Sept. 22, Drake decided to push back the release to Friday, Oct. 6 at 6 a.m. due to his ongoing It’s All a Blur tour. Drake hinted towards this album numerous times in his shows, promising this album would be the return of the “old Drake.” While only initially posting the album cover, drawn by his 5-year-old son, Adonis Graham, he released the lead single “Slime You Out” featuring SZA on Friday, Sept. 15, followed by teasers including the tracklist and the song “8am in Charlotte.” 

Drake announced the album’s delay through his Instagram story.

The album begins with the song “Virginia Beach,” setting the tone with a mix of trap and melodic, while also including distorted, high-pitched vocals from Frank Ocean’s unreleased track “Wiseman.” From there, Drake introduces listeners to a unique mix of genres, from a versatile style of rapping against a heavy piano-bass background on the track “Amen” featuring Teezo Touchdown, to a fusion of his R&B singing style with autotune on the tracks “Calling For You” and “Members Only.” The tracks serve as a nod to his classic style of singing but are reinvented to fit modern hip-hop.  

Through songs such as “Fear of Heights” and “8am in Charlotte,” listeners tune into a more expressive side of Drake that was hidden from his past albums like “Her Loss” and “Honestly, Nevermind.” This new side allows him to speak his mind clearly and deliver on his vocal talent with clear-cut raps that are fierce in tone and don’t rely on autotune to get the point across. Drake provides listeners with an insight into his life effectively, as he’s able to narrate in an enjoyable and entertaining way for listeners. Along with vocals, the album provides a variety of unique background instrumentals rather than laying variations of the same trap beat on every track, highlighted in tracks like “BBL Love – Interlude” and “Bahamas Promises.” The placid melodies set a scene for a calm and peaceful listen, suitable for Drake’s homely style of singing.    

“For All the Dogs” featured artists included artists from a wide variety of genres. | Graphic by Samika Bhatkar

“For All the Dogs” features many artists of different genres such as SZA, J. Cole, Yeat, PARTYNEXTDOOR and more. While the album highlights their talents in their respective featured tracks, a common trend is that many of the artists he collaborates with outdo him, with a prime example of that being the song “First Person Shooter.” Cole raps about Drake and his growth to fame, offering stylistic vocals, as well as clever lyrics such as “Big as the Super Bowl  / But the difference is it’s just two guys playin’ s— that they did in the studio” and “Rhymin’ with me is the biggest mistake / The Spider-Man meme is me lookin’ at Drake,” only to be disappointed with Drake’s mundane vocals rapping about women, showing how Cole outclasses Drake in this track. The track is the first collaboration between the two following nearly a decade after their leaked track “Jodeci Freestyle.” Furthermore, Drake is unable to separate himself from his previous collaboration album “Her Loss,” with the track “Calling For You” depending on a compressed and half-done verse by 21 Savage, but is unable to replicate the chemistry between Drake and 21 Savage that made their repertoire so successful. 

Rapper J Cole’s lyrics on track “First Person Shooter.” | Graphic by Samika Bhatkar

While “For All the Dogs” presents a variety of musical styles, Drake falls short on promises of trying to sound like his “old self” while pursuing a new and adventurous sound. The album also lacks variation in its lyricism, with almost all the songs being an unending drone on trivial problems in Drake’s life, many of them pertaining to Drake’s relationship with women. The project fails to give listeners a cohesive listen that blends the sub-genres on the album. Instead, it stands as a mish-mash of incessant beat switches, mundane auto-tuned singing and dragged repetition of lyrics from Drake himself. As this is Drake’s fourth album in the past two years, it feels as if he has become tired of maintaining the persona that he tries to reflect in his music. 

However, despite not living up to his expectation of being able to deliver music that audiences have heard in his older albums like “Views” and “Take Care,” Drake has demonstrated growth with production and reflection, consoling fans with melodic instrumentals that bode well with his emotional discourse. “For All the Dogs” demonstrates the notion that Drake finally feels comfortable in his own skin, releasing music that fits his laid-back yet confident perspective on life. This album almost serves more as a foundation for a new chapter in Drake’s discography rather than a throwback to an old one.

Although “For All the Dogs” fails to fulfill Drake’s promises, some songs are diamonds in the rough, standing out with unique production and suave vocals. At the end of the day, the album still provides dependable hits that can be queued on a multitude of occasions, whether it be to rouse up listeners or on a late-night drive.

3/5 

About the Contributors
Samika Bhatkar, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Samika is currently a junior and Arts & Entertainment editor for El Estoque. She loves listening to hip-hop and rap music and playing with her dog. In her free time, Samika watches NBA games or cooks Indian food with her mom.
Sagnik Nag Chowdhury, Opinion Editor
Sagnik Nag Chowdhury is currently a junior and an opinion editor for El Estoque. In his free time, he likes watching TV, biking with his friends, trying new foods and discovering new places in Cupertino.
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