Title: So Far Gone
1.Lust For Life
3.Successful (feat. Trey Songz & Lil’ Wayne)
4.Lets Call It Off (feat. Peter Bjorn & John)
6.Ignant Shit (feat. Lil’ Wayne)
7.A Night Off (feat. Lloyd)
8.Say Whats Real
9.Little Bit (feat. Lykke Li)
10.Best I Ever Had
11.Unstoppable (feat. Santo Gold & Lil’ Wayne)
12.Uptown (feat. Bun B & Lil’ Wayne)
13.Sooner Than Later
14.Bria’s Interlude (feat. Omarion)
Review from Pitchfork.com:
On the one hand, it’s heartening that something like this can still happen: Relative unknown creates mixtape with a few friends and uploads it to the Internet, and then, within a few months, he’s maybe/possibly dating Rihanna and fielding seven-figure offers from broke major labels. Except in this case, the relative unknown in question was a star on the Canadian teeny-drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation”, and the friends in question are Lil Wayne and Trey Songz and Chris Paul. Even weirder, the main overarching theme of Drake’s So Far Gone seems to be the stresses and travails of fame, even if he recorded the damn thing when he wasn’t famous in any meaningful way. And now the tape has made him good and famous for real. I don’t know how this kind of thing happens; I just watch it.
Drake’s calling card has become “Best I Ever Had”, a likable, breezy summery pop song that’s managed to ascend to Hot 97 omnipresence without any sort of label backing, a very serious achievement. It’s a Nerf-heavy declaration of lust with a nice sentiment behind it, Drake telling the song’s second-person subject that she’s prettiest with no makeup, that she’s the fucking best lay he ever had. It also contains the one and only slick punchline Drake offers on the whole hour-plus mixtape: “When my album drops, bitches’ll buy it for the picture/ And niggas’ll buy it, too, and claim they got it for they sister.”
See, Drake’s not a great rapper. His delivery manages to convey confidence at pretty much all times, but it’s still halting and awkward. Half the time, his lines barely even make sense: “I never get attracted to fans/ Cuz an eager beaver could be the collapse of a dam”– huh? And even if the tape is mostly crammed with emo soul-baring, he still comes up with lines like this: “My delivery just got me buzzing like the pizza man.” Ugh. In his four appearances on the tape, Lil Wayne just annihilates Drake. This wouldn’t be news, except we’re talking about circa-2009 syrup-fried Wayne here, and it’s rarer and rarer that he gets the better of anyone on a song.
And yet So Far Gone still scans as one of the most compulsively listenable mixtapes of a great year for mixtapes. Blame Kanye. Drake isn’t just a post-Kanye artist; he’s a post-808s and Heartbreak artist, possibly the first. On that album, Kanye drifted lazily from rapping to singing over a bed of rippling lush-but-sparse electro that still gets better every time I hear it. Drake does much the same thing on So Far Gone. He’s a singer/rapper in the Missy Elliott mode, and he even pays Missy tribute by swiping the beat from her “Friendly Skies” for “Bria’s Interlude”. When he swings from rapping to buttery teen-idol singing, it feels organic and effortless, like he’s just doing whatever makes the most sense at any given moment.
Musically, Drake favors a very specific sort of sugary but spacious electro-soul; nearly every track makes heavy use of organ sustain and sparse heartbeat drums. He uses tracks from Swede-pop types like Lykke Li and Peter Bjorn and John, the sort of thing that seems forced and gimmicky when most rappers do it. In Drake’s hands, though, those songs make sense in close proximity to, say, Jay-Z’s “Ignorant Shit” or Kanye’s “Say You Will”. And it helps that he actually interacts with his source material. With “Little Bit”, Drake doesn’t simply rap over Lykke Li’s original. Instead, he structures it like a duet, he and Lykke slowly circling each other and admitting their crushed-out feelings. It’s cute. My favorite track on the tape is the DJ Screw tribute “November 18th”, wherein Drake pulls off something that I’ve never heard any actual Houstonians manage (sorry, Big Moe): He turns Screw’s slow, woozy sound into loverman R&B. The lyrical conceit is goofy as hell (“Tonight I’ll just fuck you like we’re in Houston”– slow, get it?), but Drake’s angelic falsetto floats beautifully over the smeared-streetlights track, and it just sounds right.
And then there’s all that price-of-fame stuff. Again, blame Kanye, because somehow this comes out sounding slippery and interesting rather than petulant and unbearable. See, Drake’s figured out that the way to brag backhandedly– to brag without bragging– is to complain about all the awesome shit that you get to endure. So here he is on “The Calm”: “Look what I became, tryna make a name/ All my first dates are interrupted by my fame.” Other rappers talk big about getting mobbed every time I hit the mall; Drake complains about those masses making his candlelit dinners a little bit more awkward. Or: “My mother embarrassed to pull my Phantom out, so I park about five houses down.” You learn he has a Phantom, and you also learn that it’s the source of some family strife that doesn’t even make sense. Crafty. And now that Drake is really, truly famous, he should really have some shit to complain about.