The somewhat cryptically-released project dropped this past Friday to the internet going nuts. But, is it worth the hype? That's where I come in.
The project opens with the Ginuwine-sampling "Legend," which poses the question of if Drake were to die today, would he be remembered as a legend (which he answers by saying "Oh My God...if I die, I'm a legend"). The PARTYNEXTDOOR-helmed production is the standout of this track. It's, for me, not exactly intro material, though. It does, however, set up for the Ginuwine-heavy samples throughout this album. So, in some ways, it's the perfect intro in terms of mood and vibe. "Energy" features "real talk" lines such as "I got strippers in my life, but they virgins to me." The song's set-up is slightly unorthodox (a feeling listeners will get from this entire album) and the lyrical content is slightly simplistic. But, sometimes, the simplest message is the best. "10 Bands" continues this "simple-yet-complex" formula, featuring quotables but in a not-overly-over-the-top sort of way.
"Know Yourself" is probably slated to have every-fucking-one calling their boys/girls/team their "whoas/wo's," which is going to be as annoying as "surfboard!" in about a couple weeks. However, the track is the perfect mix between slurred, turnt-up music and Drake-y sing-songy craziness. It's a song you could play to get some chick to twerk to and ride through the city mean-mugging for no real reason other than you're trying to look hard when you're softer than cat shit. "No Telling" feels like "Worst Behaviour" meets "Try Me" meets "Headlines." The song kind of drags in the beginning. Lyrically, it's alright and the Boi-1da production is top-notch, but it takes about two-and-a-half-minutes to kick into that "Drizzy Kill 'Em" vibe. He even takes to big-upping and mimicking Rozay at the same time, which was funny as hell. On the other hand, "Madonna" is fucked-up Drake musing about a chick. It's like "Marvin's Room" meets "P.I.M.P." That's really the only way I can describe it.
"6 God" still goes in, even though it's appeared on nowhere short of five "mixtapes" "released" from Drake since it first came out. "Star67" is a deeper-than-most "I don't fuck with these cats no mo'" type of track. We get reflective Drake and "runnin' through da city wif' my wo's" Drake on the same song. The production isn't the strongest on this, but it does allow for Drake to effortlessly float out thoughts on the state of the game, his acquaintances, and more.
PARTYNEXTDOOR vocally appears on "Preach" and "Wednesday Night Interlude." I appreciate how PARTY is differentiating himself from, say, a Weeknd (someone who he received many comparisons to upon first entering the scene). However, having an entire interlude of him kind of took me out of the moment of the album. I kind of feel like Drake should've sang on the interlude, on some "Bria's Interlude"-type of shit. I mean, if this collection is, in some ways, So Far Gone meets NWTS, it fits to have PND sing the interlude. But, it could've worked better, to me, as an interlude of dueling vocals to give it that haunting Drake sound we've come accustomed to. On the other hand, "Preach" is cool. But feels slightly out of place vibe-wise after "Star67." Had it been placed anywhere else on the album, I feel like it would've been more memorable, since it's not a bad song at all. But, you put it after "6 God" and "Star67," and it gets lost in the shuffle. I like how PARTY re-sampled a song he's already flipped, though.
"Used To," the S4TW2 featured track is up next. There's nothing much I can say on this track that hasn't been already. It's not either artists' best work, but it's more about the vibe than the lyrics. "6 Man" reminds me of a vibe of if Big KRIT and Drake decided to fuck around and pull a Migos meets Pimp C. It's different and is one of my favorite tracks off the collection. That's partly because of its differences versus the rest of the album (aside from, maybe, "Energy") and partly because Drake just goes in.
"Now and Forever," featuring production from Eric Dingus, features atmosphere-Drake speaking on several issues, potentially even the Birdman issues. "Company" pretty much ties every era of Drake together into one four-minute song. "You & The 6" is my favorite track off the album, bar none. It's an homage to his mom and life story framed as a phone call, but doesn't get hokey. For real, this shit had me like "shit, lemme call my folks." Not too many songs have that effect on me, so that's how you know that this joint is, for me, classic. "Jungle" is part "I Need Love" and part "I Want Love." It's "hokey loverman" Drake matured through real life experiences. Plus, the sample gives it that "let's get out of here, have a nightcap, and dance slow" feel that Drake is known for without retreading too much from earlier projects.
Finally, we get to "6PM in New York," where he just snaps. It's "9AM in Dallas" turned to 11 with a bit of "Mt. Olympus" mixed in for good measure. Yes, "You & The 6" is my favorite song off the album, for personal reasons. But, this track just snaps. That's the end of it. People focus on the Tyga lines, but the song itself just...fucking...goes...in.
Now, this project, for me, isn't better than 2011's Take Care. I find that album to be Drake's magnum opus at the moment. It was the perfect mix between "fuck it, I'm the man right now," reflective op-eds, "I need this chick to stop playing games" Heartbreak Drake stuff, and energy tracks. However, what IYRTITL does is bridge the gap between Take Care-era Drizzy and "How About Now"/NWTS-era Drake. This is a guy we've seen grow up from being that "same yellow boy [we] used to play up on Degrassi" to a tour de force among his hip-hop contemporaries. Its moments are high as hell, and is more cohesive than a Take Care. But, Take Care was able to connect with me personally more than IYRTITL, so I'm admittedly biased. However, this album is solid. A few moments don't connect as much as they probably should, but it's a very solid effort. The production on it takes the cake of mainstream releases so far this year, taking cues from down south, Dilla, old Drake, turn-up tracks, and more.
Is this the beginning of Drake's true Comeback Season? Or does he really have anything to come back from? We shall see.