Dropped unexpectedly on iTunes in early 2015 (the six-year anniversary of his mixtape So Far Gone), the mixtape/album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late saw Drake lighting his match and setting his entire world on fire. He was angry, and he had every right to be. He had been in the game for more than five years now, upholding his sheepish schoolboy charm and steaming his fresh linens and suits; and he was beginning to get a little tired of it all. Not to mention he was struggling a little with contractual problems. Drake was starting to hate the world he had built for himself, but he still loved his mum though.
IYRTITL is basically one hour of braggadocio, and it’s really the only time we’ve ever seen it from Drake. It’s the rapper’s selfish moment, his step-back from making a commercial album and just writing whatever he wanted. He’s not apologising to anyone, instead he’s giving everyone else the chance to apologise to him before he takes things a step further. The lyrics are mean, the beats are slick, and Drake’s holding nothing back.
On the killer opener ‘Legend,’ Drake’s reinforcing the idea that he definitely is one and on ’10 Bands’ and ‘No Tellin’’ he’s flaunting his wealth and success and promising he’s not even close to finishing up yet. He gets nostalgic about his Toronto days, referencing his hometown (all the references of 6) and “running with his woes.” While everyone in Drake’s new world is getting on his last nerve, he looks fondly on his good old days and all the true friends he had. On the emotional ‘You & The 6,’ he’s discussing his relationship with his mother, referencing how she worries and tries to set him up with “better girls” and how he tries to get her to forgive his father. It’s a ray of sunshine hidden in a thunderstorm, Drake peppering in a small trademark to remind us all that just because he’s angry, doesn’t mean he’s a different Drake.
But what engages everyone the most are the quips towards the bigger man – the ‘anti-establishment’ vibe. It’s hard to believe that Drake would be second to anyone by this point, and that’s exactly where his anger lies. “Walk up in my label like, “Where the check though?”” he slurs on ‘Star67,’ “After this drop I got new commands. Can’t meet the terms, keep it movin’ then,” him and Lil Wayne growl on ‘Used To.’ A more successful Drake seems to bring a bigger appetite for legend status, and Drake isn’t too impressed that there’s still roadblocks in his way. In ‘Now & Forever’ he compares his current label contract to a relationship, debating the pros and cons of saying goodbye and what his future will look like if he did.
Drake’s anger was definitely overdue. He had built himself an entire career from being the nice guy, and he was making it perfectly clear that he was done being nice. But he just had to get it all out of his system to move on. IYRTITL might just be the rapper’s best project, providing both a stand-alone feel while also including some of Drake’s biggest hits. It was a huge turning point in his career, solidifying his talent and further proving that he was definitely one of the greats. And it couldn’t be a better symbol for how much he had changed from his debut days. Drake had every right to brag, he was 100% a legend.