In classic Mixtape Drake fashion, he dropped a tape on our heads when we needed it most. The Boy turned The Man with the surprise release of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late in 2015. Since then, Drake has become the most beloved and sought after artist in hip-hop. His features turn tracks from underground hits to global sensations. Basically, if Drizzy touches your track and you’re an artist like BlocBoy JB, then you better be ready for your 15 minutes of incalculable fame after “Look Alive”.
Here at Burbs, we find it important to discuss new contributions to the pop cultural wave following their releases in order to gauge each other’s immediate reactions and feelings. So, in classic fashion, our music writers have come together to discuss Drake’s new mixtape, Dark Lane Demo Tapes, an assortment of leaked tracks and demos that won’t be featured on the 6ix God’s new studio album coming Summer of 2020.
Questions posed by Ralph James
Drake seems to always start his projects with an intro track that is just BARS on top of BARS. What did you think of “Deep Pockets”?
Evan Linden: The production on “Deep Pockets” is immaculate and Drake’s bars are ice cold. I can’t say I’m surprised, though. If there’s one thing that you can always count on Drake for, it’s that he never misses on an intro track. Drake’s intro tracks have always been his pride and joy.
Ralph James: If there’s one Drake related thing that I live for, it’s his bar-centric tracks like the time in location series or “Weston Road Flows” relatives. “Deep Pockets” delivered in a major way and was yet another blessing in Drizzy’s intro discography.
Jack Martian: It’s a forceful introduction that would perfectly suit a late night drive on an aptly lit highway. Drake has become the biggest force in hip-hop because of his rapping abilities. When he needs to, Drake can rap his ass off and he does just that on “Deep Pockets”, adding another memorable intro track to his collection.
Howie Butler: I very much enjoyed “Deep Pockets”. Comparatively though, it was a mid-tier Drake Intro for me. I didn’t think it was as good as “Over My Dead Body”, “Tuscan Leather”, “Survival”, “Legend”. High quality rapping from Mr. Graham though, hats off to you.
Carter Ferryman: “Deep Pockets” is a really clean opening track. The first verse drags a little bit in my opinion, but Drizzy circles back around to the immaculate on his second verse. He paints a complex web of business success and high profile connection - “Back when Jill Scott was the apple of my afrocentric eye” is just one of many reminiscent moments Drake revisits Dark Lane Demo Tapes lyrically dense intro.
We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t mention it… Was Carti’s verse on “Pain 1993” really THAT awful?
Jack Martian: This wasn’t even an appearance from Baby Voice Carti; this was Newborn Carti. It’s jarring at first, but after a few listens, the verse has started to bring a smile to my face. It’s goofy.
Evan Linden: I don’t think so, but I honestly don’t know anymore. I liked it a lot at first, but I tend to gas up music I’ve been waiting for on my first listen. However, my feelings on it have fluctuated almost every listen. I’ve been trying my hardest not to let rap Twitter influence me into disliking it, but damn—Carti is only a flop or two away from early retirement at this rate. I don’t think the verse is necessarily bad, but does it have the secret sauce that has drawn us all to Carti for the past three years? The simple answer is no. The baby voice was a breakthrough two years ago, but Carti is going to have to make another sonic breakthrough if he wants to keep his spot in trap’s upper echelon. If Drake’s verse on “Pain 1993” wasn’t so solid, this track would’ve been one of the biggest letdowns in hip-hop history (although all the entitled brats on Twitter would lead you to believe that it is the biggest letdown in hip-hop history).
Ralph James: I was appalled by how high Carti’s register was during my first listen, but his feature has grown on me in the same way that “@ MEH” has grown on me. Slowly, but surely. Playboi is kind of a parasite in that way; he just seeps deeper and deeper into your subconscious.
Howie Butler: It wasn’t THAT bad. It wasn’t great. I think what really made his verse so hard to listen to wasn’t his high pitch, it was his double/triple layering of ad-libs that would magnify the squeal of his baby voice. There was no way the original plan was for Drake to release “Pain 1993”, but I can totally understand why this audible was called. Carti drops “@ Meh” to unplanned (and undeserved) slander, I believe he decided to let Drake run with it and release it as a feeler. Carti may not post a lot on social media, but I guarantee you he scrolls. I fully think that he has received the message, the expiration date on his baby-voice delivery is approaching FAST.
Carter Ferryman: I have a really hard time separating the “good” from “bad” in Carti’s musical orphus. The lines that separate hit whisperer and half-assed ad-libber have grown nebulous by the day. I love Carti, but “Pain 1993” doesn’t do it for me. Howie’s right in my opinion - the expiration date is approaching fast. I’m nervous for Whole Lotta Red. Is the public going to embrace that sound like they did a few years before? DaBaby gets bombarded by critics and listeners for his inability to explore new sounds… where do we draw that line in the sand with Carti?
There were leaks for practically every track on the project, but which one lived up to the hype inspired by SoundCloud and Reddit heads?
Ralph James: Zack Bia, the Instagram darling who commonly hangs out with Virgil Abloh, previewed “Demons” via IG Live during one of his DJ sets. My dear friend Sweese became immediately obsessed with it. It’s important to note that Sweese is definitively not a self-proclaimed Drake Stan, but “Demons” caught his attention to the point of where he was reciting the lyrics to himself while we were posted up during quarantine. And after somewhere between 20-25 listens of the track, it’s safe to say that it lived up to the hype. Fivio Foreign and Sosa Geek delivered on their features.
Howie Butler: “Pain 1993” had a Carti verse leak about an hour before the project dropped, one without the infamous baby voice. It was a slurred delivery, and I know this didn’t answer the question, but I really wish I could see my Twitter feed from the alternate reality where that version saw the light of a release. This Carti slander makes me a sad How. I really loved the leak for “Landed”, back when we thought it was going to be called “Stick It”. That track definitely lived up to the hype and reminded me of IYRTITL Drizzy, debatably my favorite Drizzy. When I was deep diving for leaks when writing my Quarantine Hip-Hop piece a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon one entitled “Not Around”. That’s the one I’m excited for. Drake confirmed it for his next album, releasing this summer. I’d link it but it was recently swept off Soundcloud, Youtube, Reddit, etc.
Did you go as ballistic as I did when you first heard the Future & Young Thug assisted “D4L”? Because I head-banged for the entirety of the track.
Evan Linden: “D4L” is one of those songs that makes you feel like you can smash through a brick wall on some Kool-Aid Man shit. Drizzy, Thugger, and Hendrix are a lethal big three; absolutely menacing. Some sauce from Southside didn’t hurt, either. This track will go down as one of the most celebrated collaborations of Drake’s career, in my opinion.
Ralph James: The things I would do for Young Thug to join the What a Time To Be Alive duo are unspeakable and frankly quite embarrassing. His high-as-heaven-pitched register is the perfect compliment to Future’s gritty beast mode demeanor and Drake’s oh-so-smooth modern day Frank Sinatra aura. “D4L” was enthralling and adrenaline-boosting entertainment at its finest.
Jack Martian: My first listen of the mixtape was in the car, my favorite way to listen to new music. As I scrolled through the tracklist, “D4L” instantly caught my eye because, yeah, obviously. The placement of the track is great; I think it flows in nicely from “Landed”. Once “D4L” came on, my foot got a little heavy on the gas. It’s a definite highlight from the tape and might be my personal favorite. This is a Big 3 that very few, if any, can contest.
Howie Butler: I thought the song was good, as expected. I really wish Thugger had a verse though because he’s been killing everything as of late. This track was truly made special, in my opinion, by Southside’s production. 808 MY CREW.
What’s your favorite track so far? If you can’t narrow it down to one, let me hear your Top Three.
Evan Linden: My current top three would be “D4L”, “Demons”, and either “Landed” or “Deep Pockets”. But, these are definitely subject to change by next week.
Ralph James: Fuck me. I hate when I ask myself impossible questions. But here it goes: “Florida With Love”, “Time Flies”, and “Pain 1993”.
Jack Martian: “D4L”, “Desires”, and “Chicago Freestyle”. It’s always harder to pick multiple favorites as opposed to a single standout. Personally, “Toosie Slide” and “War” might be the only songs I’d skip on a complete listening.
HowDawg6God: I can’t give you one track. I cannot give you three tracks either. I hate to be that guy, but I am gonna give you four. In no particular order, here are my favorites; “Pain 1993”, “From Florida With Love”, “Landed”, and “Chicago Freestyle”.
Carter: Giveon and producer Sevn Thomas curate a wave that Drake rides effortlessly on “Chicago Freestyle”. On “Desire”, Drake is at his best: it’s memorable, bouncy, and complemented perfectly by a feature from the 6 God’s longtime “partner-in-plaques”. My third spot goes to “From Florida With Love” for no particular reason. It just sounds wonderful. After all, this is a demo tape.