"First Listen" is a series where we review an album the day it's released after just one listen.
Drake just released “For All The Dogs,” his third album in the last 18 months. This 23 track project is Drake’s 9th and every single one of them has gone #1 on the Billboard HOT 100. For All The Dogs features a wide range of features including new school favorites like Teezo Touchdown, Sexyy Red, and Yeat; along with established stars like SZA, J. Cole, Bad Bunny, Chief Keef, and of course 21 Savage.
After a first listen of Drake’s “For All The Dogs,” it makes sense why Drake said he was “taking a break from music” on SiriusXM. This album will likely go number one on Billboard and have multiple popular singles, but it ultimately is a forgettable and directionless body of work.
The easiest way to break down this album is to say: the songs with features are good, the songs without are not. First Person Shooter with J. Cole, Gently with Bad Bunny, and Rich Baby Daddy with Sexyy Red and SZA will all get airplay on radio and could be played in the club. But even in those songs, Drake’s decisions on song structure are odd.
Live by the Feature, Die by the Feature
At the end of an extremely fun and upbeat song, like Rich Baby Daddy, Drake decides to sing a one minute outro referencing Florence and the Machine’s “The Dog Days Are Over.” In the middle of Calling For You with 21 Savage, there is a voicemail of a woman talking about flights essentially ruining the song. Even on First Person Shooter, J. Cole said he’s “the one that they call when they’re sh*t ain’t connecting” and that “rhyming with me is the biggest mistake” on a song where he widely outperforms Drake.
Drake’s greatest ability is to be a chameleon who blends into any other artist's sound. Drake and Teezo Touchdown was fun, Drake and Yeat was interesting, and Drake and J. Cole is clearly legendary.
If the album was 16 songs long, I’d probably be praising it. Instead I’m left uninspired by songs like Tried Our Best, 7969 Santa, and the first half of Daylight which can only be described as pouting music.
There are some fun bars and references like “Pretty but ghetto, pretty but rough like Virginia Beach” which is an incredibly accurate description of Virginia Beach. Also, there is a loose running theme of BARK Radio with fun skits from the likes of Snoop Dogg and Teezo Touchdown.
"For All The Dogs"
Ultimately, Drake seems like he’s out of touch and has ran out of things to talk about. When he was alone on songs he boringly rapped about Turks & Caicos, various unnamed women, and how rich he is. When he was on a track with someone else, he had some fun and matched their energy.
The album was too long and the songs were too long. I’m still not sure if “For All The Dogs” is an ironic titled or not because none of these songs other than IDGAF. For an album called “For All The Dogs” there sure are a lot of whiny slow songs. Thematically and lyrically this album missed the mark. It’s not terrible, but you expect better from Drake. Three or four songs will be remembered and the other eighteen or nineteen will fade into the background. If you like loud and fun Drake this album is not for you.