Reviews

Drake “For All the Dogs” Album Review

For All The Dogs

Drake

  • Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap
  • Date: 06 Oct, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Track(s): 23
  • ℗ 2023 OVO, under exclusive license to Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

Drake has finally released “For All the Dogs” after over ten months of teasing, delays, and an album campaign highlighted by his first poetry book and a tour equally focused on music and bras with support from 21 Savage.

With a staggering 23 tracks and a one hour and 25 minute runtime, “For All the Dogs” spends what feels like an eternity trying to recapture the ember of “the old Drake” — but the efforts are futile because so much of the album leans on an exact recreation of the “old Drake” approach to those topics, instead of returning to focusing on those storied subjects with a mature and evolve outlook. Despite this, “For All the Dogs” features a stellar cast of collaborators and unexpected guests.

Album Cover Art

Drake &Quot;For All The Dogs&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, April 24, 2024

The hand-drawn image of a white dog with red eyes on a plain black backdrop that appears on Drake’s new album cover was created by his 5-year-old son, Adonis Graham.

Tracks and Features

Drake opens For All the Dogs with a tribute to “Virginia Beach,” the hometown of his archrival Pusha T, waxing poetic about the city’s “pretty but ghetto” women and the various influences they have on his mind and emotions. The entrance begins to falter due to a clumsy chorus and more cheesy bars, but 40’s skittering production keeps things interesting.

The first of two Teezo Touchdown collaborations on For All the Dogs, “Amen,” is similar to Drake’s rendition of “Ciara’s Prayer.” Drake prays not for appreciation, but for God not to reveal him for doing his girl(s) wrong, over an arrangement that begins with a prayer from Teezo, churchy piano keys, and doo-wop-adjacent harmonies.

21 Savage and Drake have shown to be effective collaborators in recent years, but after receiving an album’s worth of tracks that are far superior to this one just under a year ago, “Calling For You” falls hollow. The Her Loss link is too overt, with a voicemail interlude that closes with “That’s on you, it’s on you/ Sorry for your loss,” to make this song feel like it belongs in the For All the Dogs universe. Not to add that neither rapper fills the scant production with fascinating or unique bars; instead, it’s more of them reminiscing on former romances and throwing vague jabs and undefined opps — which, again, we got from this exact combination last year.

Drake and J. Cole tackle the “Big 3” controversy that has dominated hip-hop debates since they and Kendrick Lamar joined the ring in the early 2010s for their first collaboration in a decade. Cole and Drake, both more than a decade into their respective reigns, assume an elder statesman’s demeanor, yet they still have some skin in the game. The two stars dive into their braggadocious bag over the subtle-yet-triumphant instrumental, which has production credits from Tay Keith and Boi-1da, among others, but it still feels like they’re holding back ever-so-slightly.

Not only does Chief Keef appear as a sample on For All the Dogs, but the “Love Sosa” rapper also appears on “All the Parties,” a Boi-1da and BNYX-produced track on which Drake reflects on his success and how he advances in the music industry. The opening half of the song is anchored by Chief Keef’s chorus, in which he echoes the classic “Love Sosa” and gives a sing-songy cadence to complement Drake’s rap-heavy lyrics. The actual star of the show, though, is the beat changeover. The song takes on a more atmospheric, synth-y tone, allowing Drake to vent on his displeasure with the permanence of death as it relates to rap game dynamics.

Because it doesn’t really have the undeniable pop-facing hooks, For All the Dogs is an interesting album despite all of its forays towards trendy new sounds from all over the market. Sexyy Red is fortunately on the case. The St. Louis rapper contributes a guest verse and yet another catchy chorus to “Rich Baby Daddy” while SZA pauses for her second and last on-album guest appearance. Drake’s outro, which effectively establishes him as the ultimate wealthy baby daddy, and Sexyy’s “Looking for the Hoes” interpolation make this the summer song we deserved. The production is addictive and heavily references Miami bass.

Given that “Slime You Out” is not even close to being the worst track on For All the Dogs, it is amusing to think back on how the song was received at first and how it still managed to launch at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Take what you will from that, but compared to some of the other duets on the record, this SZA-Drake duet at least has some actual stakes and tension. Although it’s still a long way from the guaranteed bombshell that a SZA-Drake duet should be, it’s not entirely pointless.

With songs like “Gently,” “Slime You Out,” and Travis Scott’s “K-POP,” it appears like the biggest names in music are teaming up on some of the most uninteresting and formulaic tracks they have to offer. “Gently” isn’t necessarily a bad song, but it isn’t as catchy as “MIA,” and it isn’t particularly memorable in the context of the entire album. It has a thumping dembow riddim in the background and plenty of X-rated Spanish lyrics from Drake and Benito.

When Drake and PND collaborate, it’s rare to go wrong, and “Members Only” is a worthy addition to their discography. The duo’s synergy is still as strong as ever, even deep in the murky R&B mood of PND’s solo effort. Their slow rap-sung cadences blend together like layers of a cake, each one adding a different shade of complexity to the song. Unfortunately, the words to “Members Only” are sloppy and childish.

Lil Yachty has had a successful year in many genres, therefore it is likely better for him to have released this new album with Drake on his own. with a hook that makes you want to roll your eyes and a shimmering beat accentuated by fuzzy synths. The 22 other songs that “Another Late Night” must share space with make it difficult for it to make an impression that stands out. Not horrible, but also not very memorable.

For the final song, Drake goes beyond the “opposites attract” theme that the song’s title, “Polar Opposites,” suggests by acting as an armchair psychiatrist while berating a previous flame for blocking him “unprovoked.” Realistically speaking, Drake most likely did something to earn that, but that is not the main topic at hand. Drake uses some of his most cheesy remarks to date to express how he feels about the issue, believing that “propaganda” is to blame for her breaking up with him.

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 Virginia Beach 4:11
2 Amen (feat. Teezo Touchdown) 2:21
3 Calling For You (feat. 21 Savage) 4:45
4 Fear Of Heights 2:35
5 Daylight 2:44
6 First Person Shooter (feat. J. Cole) 4:07
7 IDGAF (feat. Yeat) 4:20
8 7969 Santa 4:19
9 Slime You Out (feat. SZA) 5:10
10 Bahamas Promises 3:04
11 Tried Our Best 3:29
12 Screw The World 1:52
13 Drew A Picasso 4:22
14 Members Only (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR) 4:37
15 What Would Pluto Do 3:02
16 All The Parties (feat. Chief Keef) 3:38
17 8am in Charlotte 4:26
18 BBL Love 2:41
19 Gently (feat. Bad Bunny) 2:13
20 Rich Baby Daddy (feat. Sexyy Red & SZA) 5:19
21 Another Late Night (feat. Lil Yachty) 2:50
22 Away From Home 4:18
23 Polar Opposites 4:17

Album Theme

The record is about him bragging about his female preferences, displaying his sexual prowess, and feuding with his opponents. He also engages in some typical braggadocio.

Production Credits

Along with 40, Sango, Oz, Bnyx, Southside, Boi-1da, Vinylz, Tay Keith, FnZ, Jahaan Sweet, DJ Screw (posthumously sampled), Stwo, Gordo, and Justin Raisen, among others, Drake, Teezo Touchdown, and Lil Yachty contributed to the production.

Stream

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