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The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

The Student News Site of Millard West High School

The Catalyst

Drake’s ‘For All The Dogs’ lacks a fresh bark

The highest-selling singles artist in history’s latest album released with a whimper
The album cover for “For All The Dogs” by Drake features a simple yet endearing drawing of a white dog with red-orange eyes, which was created by his 5-year-old son, Adonis. Drake shared this artwork with his fans on Instagram, sparking a warm reception. It not only encapsulates the album’s title but also showcases a personal touch from his son.

Drake’s latest album, “For All The Dogs,” released on Oct. 6, 2023, has received mixed reviews from critics, who highlight a lack of cohesion and inspiration throughout the album. The project boasts a long list of collaborators, including 21 Savage, SZA, Chief Keef and Yeat, over its 23 tracks and 84-minute run time​.

Despite being Spotify’s most streamed rapper, maintaining relevance with evolving music trends, Drake’s previous endeavor into electronic music with his 2022 album “Honestly, Nevermind” seemed a refreshing venture. Yet, “For All The Dogs” circles back to his familiar R&B-trap fusion sound, lacking the sonic distinctiveness of peers like Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. One of Drake’s forte has been his adeptness at merging rap with R&B, rendering aggressive freestyles alongside romantic ballads. While individual tracks uphold this duality, the album as a whole falters in melding these contrasting personas of Drake.

Upon hitting play, the album’s introduction felt like a homecoming of sorts. The familiar cadence of Drake’s verses intertwined with the eclectic beats, ushered me into what I hoped would be another memorable auditory journey. But as I navigated through the tracks, the album started feeling less like a well-thought-out narrative and more like a disjointed array of songs thrown together haphazardly.

What struck me first was the overwhelming roster of featured artists. While the likes of 21 Savage, SZA and Chief Keef brought their unique flavors to the table, the essence of Drake seemed to dissolve amidst this plethora of voices. Tracks like “IDGAF” featuring Yeat, felt less like a Drake song and more like a platform for Yeat to shine. Drake’s ability to straddle the line between rap and R&B is commendable, however, the overshadowing presence of the featured artists on many tracks felt like a diversion rather than a complement.

“Slime You Out (ft. SZA)” felt like a trip down a well-trodden path. The lyrics, centering around wealth and hedonistic endeavors, started to blend with the subsequent tracks. By the time I reached “Members Only (ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR),” the narratives seemed to be melding into a single monologue of self-indulgence.

There were glimmers of hope though. “Bahamas Promises” took a softer, more reflective turn, offering a glimpse into a troubled relationship. It felt genuine, it felt real. However, the momentum was short-lived as “What Would Pluto Do” brought me back to the ostentatious display of wealth and status, a recurring theme that felt overdone.

The production quality was, as always, top-notch. The beats in “Another Late Night” had my head nodding, and “Away From Home” had a rhythm that was hard to ignore. Yet, the lyrical depth I yearned for seemed to be buried under layers of bravado and braggadocio.

The interludes were a hit or miss. “Screw The World — Interlude” felt out of place, its lo-fi beats disrupting the flow rather than enhancing it. On the other hand, the subtle melancholy of “Drew a Picasso” resonated with a sense of longing and regret that felt authentic and relatable.

I found myself yearning for more of the introspective Drake, the one who isn’t afraid to delve into the complexities of relationships and the human experience. Yet, the album veered more towards a celebration of status and wealth, themes that are not new to Drake’s discography.

While Drake was once known for his innovative fusion of hip-hop and R&B, this album sees him reverting to a more tried-and-true R&B-trap fusion sound, which lacks the distinctiveness of his contemporaries’ work, like Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. Despite a few standout tracks, the album is criticized for failing to rectify Drake’s two personas— the sensitive singer and the braggadocious rapper.

The lyrical content, once the soul of Drake’s music, felt hollow this time around. The introspection and vulnerability that marked classics like “Take Care” and “Nothing Was The Same” seemed to have evaporated. Instead, I was met with a Drake who revels in hedonistic exploits, often reducing the women in his narrative to mere accessories of his affluent lifestyle. The emotional disconnect in tracks like “Slime You Out” and “Members Only” left me yearning for the Drake who wasn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.

Musically, “For All The Dogs” doesn’t venture far from Drake’s well-trodden path. The R&B-trap fusion, although sonically pleasing, felt stale, lacking the innovative spark that once set Drake apart from his contemporaries. The redundancy in the beat selection and the monotony in Drake’s flow made the 84-minute runtime feel like a dragging endeavor rather than an exhilarating experience.

The album does have its moments. “Bahamas Promises” offered a glimpse into the introspective Drake I have always admired. Yet, these glimmers of brilliance are few and far between, buried under a mound of mediocre tracks that offer nothing new to the Drake narrative.

The lack of a cohesive theme or a narrative arc made “For All The Dogs” feel like a tedious listen. Unlike his previous albums where each track felt like a chapter in a larger story, this felt like a compilation of loose thoughts with no real thread tying them together.

“For All The Dogs” felt like a missed opportunity for Drake to elevate his narrative and sonic aesthetics. The album, while not devoid of catchy tunes, lacks the soul and the innovative essence that made me a Drake aficionado in the first place. It’s an album that panders more to streaming algorithms than to the hearts of the listeners, leaving me with a taste of disenchantment, yearning for the Drake who once seamlessly blended emotional depth with musical ingenuity.

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About the Contributor
Eddie Shi
Eddie Shi, Staff Reporter
Eddie is a senior at Millard West starting his third year on the CATalyst staff. He enjoys analyzing and reviewing new technology. He also enjoys writing reviews for games and albums. Eddie enjoys traveling to many different areas worldwide to experience brand-new cultures. He is the Millard West tennis team captain. Eddie looks forward to writing for the CATalyst newspaper.

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