Drake’s latest album, “For All the Dogs” is here, and in nearly every way, it is downright unremarkable. The Toronto superstar has once again delivered a tiresome and inflated LP composed of 23 tracks, the bulk of which are only successful thanks to the guest features that aid them. While it is certainly disappointing that Drake has returned with the same mild-meaning, easy level rap formulas on this album, it should come as no real surprise to listeners. He is essentially repeating what worked for him on his previous several projects, (with the addition of a hardly significant dose of changes in his vocal dynamics and a few missable ad libs) and creating on autopilot. While this routine is considered insufficient to some, it is ultimately a working formula for the rapper.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to deny how tiresome and, well, flat out boring “For All the Dogs” is. With a variety of broken similes (“On site like .com” or “Movin’ like Snoopy and Charlie Brown”) and flimsy hooks (such as on “Fear of Heights”) this album is littered with writing that is absurdly easy to forget. Drake’s right hand, 40, and a collection of other producers, create a likable enough collection of beats for this project, though they are hardly good enough to salvage it (which says much more about the lyrical side of things than the production work).
In many ways, Drake’s seeming settlement for whatever raps come to him easiest and whatever flows run the laziest, are reminiscent of a phase his own mentor, renowned rapper Lil Wayne, went through not so long ago and arguably still falls back into from time to time (Wayne’s recent release, “The Fix Before the VI” certainly follows suit).While Wayne has often since pulled back into a robust and beyond impressive state of artistry (several features and tracks on his own works “Funeral” and “Tha Carter V” come to mind), however, it would seem likely that Drake may not do the same. In other words, while Wayne has nearly always been a truly groundbreaking and proficient craftsman at his core, Drake does not share such characteristics and has fallen into a permanent pattern of mediocrity.
“For All the Dogs” does at times provide some relief, but by and large, it comes by way of the album’s featured artists. Between the contributions of SZA, J. Cole, Teezo Touchdown and more, an otherwise monotonous listening experience becomes bearable. Whether it be Cole on “First Person Shooter” or SZA on the album single “Slime You Out”, these guest features are by and far the highlights of this project.