Drake is the voice of a generation. Full stop. Along with Jay-Z, he's one of the rare lyricists with a quotable bar for every life situation. He's given us a multitude of sounds and styles that serve as, ahem, accents to his catalog. Drizzy has romped with rap’s elite, sung his emo heart out, glowed up with glow sticks—and in the process, ruled streaming stats and Billboard charts. If there was a meme hall of fame, his jersey would already be hanging in the rafters. After 15 summers of dominance, he’s set to unveil another chapter of the Drake canon: For All the Dogs. The album follows the multi-colored stretch of Certified Lover Boy (2021), Honestly, Nevermind (2022), and Her Loss (2022) with 21 Savage, and the anticipation is steadily building. But musically, what exactly is the expectation at this stage of Drake’s career?
While it’s commendable that Drake remains innovative after more than a decade in the game, some could argue that Drake hasn’t released a truly transcendent and thoroughly thematic effort in some time. The last string of Drake projects feels like a wide-ranging spectrum of “greatest hits” selections. Granted, that isn’t far removed from the formula of his 2013 classic, Nothing Was the Same. Yet fans have been yearning for an effort that hits a little different.
Drake’s breakthrough album, Take Care, had its fair share of heavy hitters. But it was mostly doused with a combination of heart-warming and heart-shattering anthems told from the perspective of a simp. But it worked—so well, in fact, that fans have long sought a return to that form. Last year’s oontz-oontz drop Honestly, Nevermind pulled from that emotive formula lyrically and flow-wise, but veered left with its house music sound. Sure, it was a daring release, but it was easily his most polarizing album.
Maybe the commentary got to Drake. During a recent It’s All a Blur tour stop, Drake suggested For All the Dogs will sound like the vintage version of him that fans once fell in love with: “I’m tired of everybody coming up to me, [saying] man… we miss that old Drake, man. We need that old Drake, man. I’ma give it to you then.” So perhaps his new effort will bring back the early 2010s energy that birthed the prime of his B-side catalog (see: Care Package). There’s still a void when it comes to the full return of R&B Drake. He can go that route if he chooses to consider it.
Drake and Nicki Minaj announced that they’ll be collaborating once again on For All the Dogs. “I definitely can’t wait for you guys to hear the song I did with Drake,” Nicki said in late August. “It definitely put me in those feels like our old songs.” Those two together on wax is a deadly combination. Take, for example, early catalog gems such as “Moment 4 Life,” “Make Me Proud,” and “Up All Night.” Is another classic incoming? One could only hope. Regardless, it’d be dope to see Young Money pop their stuff as one of the most victorious rap collectives of all time.
Lastly, Drake could benefit from displaying more candor. No, we don't need to hear about yet another failed situationship with an old fling. Rewind to the Scorpion track “March 14,” on which Drake opens up about co-parenting, his ideal family unit going nuclear, and his dedication to his son, Adonis. It’s much more vulnerable and interesting than tales about exes that are forever on his mind and money that he doesn’t know what to do with. Perhaps the disclosure that the For All the Dogs’ artwork was drawn by Drake’s son suggests we’ll hear more on the album about their bond and Drake’s role as a rap dad (more parent-teacher conference bars, please!).
Simply put, I want to hear more depth from Drake—a nice flush of character details that paint him as something more than a playboy, a hopeless romantic, and a music superstar. Hopefully he answers the call. Time will tell. For All the Dogs is on the way.