A&E Review

“For All The Dogs” – An Appetizer When Drake Fans Wanted the Full Course Meal

Photo credit to Drake.

Drake has done it again. After waiting several months for the album and being given multiple teasers surrounding its release, the project ended up being released at 3 a.m. rather than the conventional 9 p.m. This build-up has left fans salivating over the idea of new music, and he’s had us on the edge of our seats for far too long.

Pressing play on that album felt like taking off my foam red nose, clown makeup, and the puppet strings from my arms in another act of submission to one of rap’s greatest. But dang did he deliver after all the antics.

The sped-up loop of an unreleased Frank Ocean track is seemingly Drake’s way of saying sorry for the torture he’s put his diehard fans through since the teasing of the album back in August. 

The Drake effect is on full display from the start, with Teezo Touchdown — an artist I’ve religiously hated on since his appearance on Don Toliver’s “Love Sick” — sounding angelic. For once, Teezo experiments with an R&B style on “Amen,” and he sounds like a changed man. Drake does his thing too, and I felt in tune with the opening vibe Drake looked to create.

However, Drake’s foolery starts right back up before listeners can even settle in. A nearly two-minute interlude from a whiny Instagram model ranting about a mediocre vacation completely ruins 21 Savage’s lone track, “Calling For You.”

Drake wasn’t done there though. Letting his 5-year-old son, Adonis Graham, draw a sloppy picture of a dog for the album cover was a cute idea. Especially after the nightmarish album cover from Drake’s last project “Her Loss,” everyone was fine with a simple child’s drawing as the cover for “For All The Dogs.”

But Drake, letting your toddler son hop in the studio to riff off a few bars? Sitting there listening to a 5-year-old child rap lines that he clearly wrote himself — like “I like it when you like it / My, my, my, my man” — is just another level of foolishness. I felt like almost reapplying the clown makeup after sitting through that.

Photo credit to Spotify.

By the grace of God though, J. Cole reels us back in. “First Person Shooter” is an instant classic, and a precious listen considering the legendary duo had only released one other song together up until this point.

The middle of the album following Cole’s feature is a roller coaster ride, with appearances from Yeat to SZA, it’s just hard to figure out what’s going on. “IDGAF” delivers for all those new-school rap fans, and you could even argue Drake got dominated by Yeat on his own song.

“Bahamas Promises” and “Tried Our Best” bring a smile to “old-Drake” fans, who were anticipating a vintage album from the rapper. “For All The Dogs” was advertised as a project that would take us back in time, and those two songs showed Drake tried to follow through on his promise.

There was a quick interlude, and then back to business, where Drake continued to provide for his hungry fans. “Drew A Picasso” and “What Would Pluto Do” will go down as more all-time Drake hits. The Canadian rapper effectively finds his trademark flow that lifted him into stardom on “Drew A Picasso,” while remaining in touch with a refined flow he’s more recently experimented with on “What Would Pluto Do.”

It would have been nice to hear Pluto himself — Atlanta rapper, Future — show up on “What Would Pluto Do” since the song is a nod to Drake’s longtime accomplice. Nonetheless, the Lil Yachty ad-libs are a nice touch and the sped-up piano beat gives total “Jumbotron S**t Poppin” vibes from Drake’s last album.

The fans asked for old Drake, and on “8am in Charlotte” we most definitely were spoiled. It’s a calculated song, and if you aren’t listening closely, you’ll easily miss a hard-hitting verse.

Savage got a green card straight out of the consulate / Where I go, you go, brother, we Yugoslavian,” pays homage to 21’s battle with citizenship that was finally cleared up this past month, and the unbreakable bond the two have formed since going on tour together.

In one verse Drake reflects on the relationships he has, and just a few minutes after he meticulously disses rapper NBA Youngboy, who he has famously had a long-standing feud with.

“You young boys take some of that money and set it aside / Not havin’ enough to pay your tax is a federal crime,” is the verse of the song and so brilliantly disses Youngboy for his inability to pay his taxes. Drake is a man among boys and effectively throws shade while still not giving an enemy of his too much attention.

It’s hard to get excited about tracks after the song of the project, “8am in Charlotte.” Drake transitions from this masterpiece into sloppy songs with Sexyy Red and Bad Bunny. These songs feel like swings and misses in hopes of making a viral TikTok song rather than carefully crafted tracks like the songs we just got. Having to listen to a one-hit wonder like Sexyy Red significantly hurts the integrity of the album, and it’s hard to take this project seriously as something we can consider an “old-Drake” album.

Drake’s going to get away with whatever he wants — and that’s simply a given. He’s too established in the music world to ever fall off or lose the support of his millions upon millions of fans. 

I guess that’s just what you sign up for when you press play on his work, and for every tough listen you get multiple memorable tracks from Drake. Was “For All The Dogs” worth the wait and all the trouble in between? Maybe, maybe not. But that doesn’t change the fact that Drake gave us another competent album during a year when rap has been at an all-time low.