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Performer Mayyadda singing at the University of Minnesota Juneteenth Celebration “We Are The Noise: The Echoes of Our Ancestors” captured on Saturday, June 15.
Best photos of June '24
Published June 23, 2024

Review: “For All The Dogs” by Drake

Drake’s eighth studio album feels bloated yet still showcases some noteworthy high-energy tracks.
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Image by Ava Weinreis
This is the rapper’s eighth studio album.

Capping off an extremely prolific few years where Drake released three solo albums, a collaborative album with 21 Savage and an extensive US tour celebrating his discography (à la Eras Tour), the Toronto rapper has finally released his eighth studio album after a delay and canceled tour dates.

After being critically panned with his 2022 house-influenced LP “Honestly Nevermind,” Drake backpedaled stylistically and played it safe on “For All The Dogs,” a tracklist dominated by his trademark atmospheric R&B sound as well as mainstream trends like rage rap and reggaeton. 

At 23 tracks, the album is too long despite some quality tracks. Without a focused central concept for the project, as well as a lack of musical variety in the second half of the album, the 84-minute runtime is simply not justified.

Starting off with a captivating and hypnotic orchestral soundscape, the album-opener “Virginia Beach” calls back to the iconic production of his lauded 2013 record “Nothing Was The Same” by using a reversed vocal sample, this time from Frank Ocean’s “Wise Man.” 

Despite some questionable lyrics like, “He gon’ find out that it’s on-site like W-W-W. On-site like dot-com, put a baby in you, you a hot mom,” Drake sets a dramatic tone for the album on “Virginia Beach” through the exquisite and almost haunting instrumental production.

After “Virginia Beach” comes “Amen,” featuring rising alt-rap artist Teezo Touchdown, who has had an eventful 2023 after having one of the most memorable features on Travis Scott’s “Utopia” and the release of his debut album in September. Teezo Touchdown adds a catchy melody to the track’s chorus through a collection of soulful vocal harmonies. While the feature is strong, the remainder of the song feels sonically vapid after the well-crafted opening.

As the album continues, Drake impressively starts rapping over rage-rap beats on the tracks “Fear of Heights” and “Daylight.” Echoing the production and vocal delivery of Playboi Carti’s ever-influential 2020 album “Whole Lotta Red,” Drake manages to pull off rapping in this style without sounding like he is desperately chasing the rage-rap trend. Remaining pretty melodic vocally, Drake changes it up a little bit by combining his signature singing with rage-rap beats. 

The moshpit-ready “Daylight” features a repetitive chorus signature to rappers like Playboi Carti, but at no point does it sound like Drake is trying to be someone he is not. It comes off as effortless, even if he wears his influences on his sleeve.

The strongest track on the album is “First Person Shooter” featuring J. Cole, which showcases a thumping trap beat garnished with samples of orchestral strings and ghostly-downpitched vocals. The track’s instrumental is extravagant and triumphant as Cole raps, “Love when they argue the hardest MC. Is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me? We the big three like we started a league, but right now, I feel like Muhammad Ali.”

Despite quite a few noteworthy tracks with tight production and impressive vocal performances from Drake, this album is riddled with truly eye-roll-inducing bars. Prime examples include the lyrics from the SZA collaboration track “Slime You Out,” “July, that’s when I found out you lied,” the lazy wordplay featured on “Bahamas Promises” with “You put the ‘No’ in monogamy” and a line depicting a down-bad Drake on “Members Only,” “I live like forty minutes from you, that sex drive is crazy.” On “Members Only,” Drake revisits an infamous lyrical theme from his 2021 album “Certified Lover Boy” with the line “Feel like I’m bi ’cause you’re one of the guys, girl.”

A song that stands out on the album, “8am in Charlotte,” is not safe from a cringeworthy line that feels beyond parody: “I say, ‘We gotta talk about us,’ I feel like Jordan Peele. Could tell I’m gettin’ under your skin like a orange peel.” By rhyming Jordan Peele with orange peel, it is obvious Drake is the most inventive lyricist of all time.

While some of Drake’s goofy lines on this album border on cringe-worthy, some are legitimately funny, like the ridiculous “Tried Our Best” line “I swear to God, you think I’m Shakespeare

That’s why you always wanna play, right?”

Overall, the album’s latter half lacks an original musical direction, as the down-tempo R&B production across “Slime You Out,” “Bahamas Promises,” “Tried Our Best,” “Drew A Picasso” and “Members Only” blends together in unremarkable fashion. Interestingly enough, Drake sticking to a sound comparable to the “old Drake” happens to show up on the album’s most boring tracks.

Despite being front-loaded and featuring some head-scratching lyrics, “For All the Dogs” is an enjoyable listen. However, the album would be considerably better with a much leaner tracklist. Drizzy should focus on quality over quantity.

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