Tell me you want to be Drake without telling me you want to be Drake.
I’m sitting here listening to “Signed with Love” by Jay Critch and at every turn I feel like I’m listening to the Brooklyn version of Aubrey Drake Graham. The pauses at the end of a Critch bar aren’t nearly as dramatic, but the production and topics of “Been That” are remarkably similar. The title track clinched it for me. Drake loves switching from rapping his verses to singing and Critch is cut from the same cloth. He’s equally obsessed with how many people envy his success and challenging his haters to life his lifestyle. “I see a little money put a lot of hype in niggaz.” “I’m trying to get rich, give a fuck about being famous.” That’s what he’s about y’all.
Now a lot of people would take this comparison as a compliment. I’d even take bets that some publicist would pull a “Jay Critch is just like Drake” quote from this review without any context. If that happens be sure to pull their card and show the rest of this write up. Yes it means that Jay Critch is effective in his presentation, but it also means he’s entirely unoriginal. On top of that he embraces one of Drake’s worst tendencies, and that’s to drop cringe-worthy lines. “Forgot to say that pussy wet like Noah’s Ark.” No Jay. That wasn’t a good bar. No. Why? Singing it on “Mental” didn’t disguise how awful it was.
Mr. Critch is also embracing Drake’s tendency to try to have it both ways. He wants you to know he’s rich, dapper and successful; also, he wants you to read his “Letter to My Niggas” so you understand he’s still down for his day ones. “My brody just came home from up top, he said it feel like he going through The Matrix/Man life get dangerous/Gotta stay alert, man these bullets is nameless.” Does Jay have that many brodies behind bars? Well I don’t know what his life was like before Rich Forever Music first put him on. It’s worth noting he’s not with them any more though.
“Signed with Love” is almost a half hour of a young rapper embracing every cliche he can. “Bitch if I said it that’s what I meant.” Yes, on “Take Out” he even remembers to include the misogyny, along with saying “fuck all my rivals” to let you know they’re on his mind too. In the meantime he’s got more ice than a hockey rink and more steak than Gallaghers. It doesn’t make for a bad presentation really. It just makes for a paint-by-numbers one. Nothing here is unexpected or exciting.
To put it bluntly I don’t hate Jay Critch at all — I just don’t care. He’s the rap equivalent of a utility player on a MLB team. He’s not the best hitter, fielder, pitcher, or anything else. He’s that dude who will always bat between .250 and .300, field the majority of balls that come his way without making a costly error, and probably gets love for the camaraderie he brings to the clubhouse. You won’t regret time spent on “Signed with Love” but you won’t say “that dude is an all-star” either. Nah. He’s the utility Drake. That’s the quote they should pull.