Drake’s “For All the Dogs” Is an Expected Disappointment

With the past releases have created an expectation that Drakes new releases will dissapoint.
With the past releases have created an expectation that Drake’s new releases will dissapoint.
Jack McRae

For All the Dogs is the twelfth full-length studio album by rapper, singer, songwriter, producer and musician, Drake. Otherwise known as Aubrey Grahm, Drake captivated the world in 2009 with his debut album So Far Gone, a blend of rap, pop and R&B inspired by Kanye West’s 2007 album Graduation and West’s 2009 album 808s and Heartbreak. So Far Gone was a massive success and breakthrough for Drake. Pitchfork rated the album a 7.4/10 and called it “Compulsively listenable”.  

Drake’s streak of quality continued throughout albums like Take Care and If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late. In 2016, Drake dropped his album Views which while not bad was definitely more bloated and unfocused than his other works. From this point on, Drake’s quality started to diminish throughout projects like 2021’s Certified Lover Boy and 2022’s Honestly Nevermind. However, in late 2022, Drake dropped his collab album with 21 Savage, Her Loss which was not nearly as well received as his early work, but seemed to reinvigorate fans and gave hope for his 2023 release For All the Dogs 

The opening track on For All the Dogs, ‘Virginia Beach’ for the first half is a pretty standard pop song about lost love that isn’t overly offensive but is nothing special. While Drake’s singing on the front end of the track isn’t terrible, it’s not good and his voice sounds like a raspier young Justin Bieber. The second half does sound a lot better with a change in the beat to something much faster. Along with the beat, Drake switches from singing to rapping. Though the actual sound of the song is better, Drake has a couple uncomfortably cringe bars such as, “You keep talking bout some period but where you ‘bout to end the sentence at?” and “Least we know you got the cakes on you, girl, you should prolly stick to bakin’ then”. 

The following track ‘Amen’ featuring Teezo Touchdown is one of the most quintessential modern Drake songs. It has above average production with a smooth beat. However, the track also contains unremarkable singing and rapping from both artists. Above that, the song thinks it’s saying something profound about letting God into your life, but the message couldn’t be more cliché. 

Drake returns to his successful formula on the track ‘Calling For You’ by featuring 21 Savage. Like his collab album Her Loss, 21 remains the far stronger part in the duo. One of the opening bars is a prime example of Drake trying to have clever word play but just coming off sounding stupid. He raps, “She was 21, I don’t see a savage”. As a reminder, Drake is 37 years old with a child, and he is rapping bars on this song like, “I see her body one-of-one. Get to the crib, make you c**, P**** sweet, call you my honeybun”. Soon after that abysmal line, 21 Savage comes on to lift the track up slightly. His flow is a little odd as after every bar, he goes “Tss”. Though overall his verse is enjoyable and saves the song from how awful Drake’s opening lines were. 

As of writing this, the largest song on the album, ‘First Person Shooting’ with J. Cole, like the previous track, the feature is by far the strongest part of the song and thankfully the only memorable part. J. Cole raps with the confidence and swagger he’s known for. He proves why he’s in the conversation of greatest rapper of our generation with bars such as, “Love when they argue the hardest MC, is it K-Dot? Is it Aubrey? Or me?”. When Drake comes on, he does what he’s best at, attempting to sound tough but just coming off cringe by repeatedly saying, “Im ‘bout to”. That being said his verse isn’t terrible, and Drake has a cadence not regularly seen from him anymore. It’s clear to see why this song became a #1 hit. 

The following track is somehow both a match made in Heavan and a terrible collab made just to generate hype. Drake collabs with Yeat on the song ‘IDGAF’. Fitting as both artists think they are so much cooler than they actually are as well as targeting the same demographic of high school boys who think they’re the center of attention. Overall the song is exactly what you’d expect from a collab from these two. It contains an overuse of autotune whenever Yeat comes on. ‘IDGAF’ may be one of the most cliché trap song of the modern age. It’s not overly offensive or terrible in any area, and you could get away with playing this on the aux but, the song is nothing special. 

Jumping from that track to an actual welcome collab with ‘Slime You Out’ featuring SZA. However, like most songs on the album, Drake’s verse is nothing that warrants attention, with more horrible lyics like, “Whipped and chained you like American Slaves”. Drake delivers his verse with such low energy that he makes Hopsin look like an A-Teir rapper. Once SZA’s verse starts, the track gets a whole lot better. Her singing is what you’d expect from her, angelic vocals and near-perfect harmony with the beat. Though she’s not really talking about much unlike her previous albums Ctrl and SOS, she doesn’t have to on an album like this. Overall, the only thing to take away from this track is that SZA is able to prove herself again and again.  

Continuing with welcome features, Chief Keef appears on the track ‘All the Parties’. For one of the few times on the album, Drake’s performance is actually pretty solid from start to finish. He’s rapping with actual confidence and the hunger he had in his previous works. The only somewhat cringe bar on the verse comes as, “We coppin’ cars like policemen, we heavy guys like obese men”. Again while the line is cringe, it goes by fast and really doesn’t distract from the rest. While Chief Keef is barely on the song, his small appearance contributes to the vibe of the song and is appreciated. Overall the track almost feels like a classic Drake song. 

Speaking of classic Drake, debatably the best song on the album and possibly Drake’s best in years, ‘8am in Charlotte’ continues Drake’s series of time-based city songs like ‘6pm in New York’. The soulful production combined with a piano creates a beat that Drake just glides over. His flow is relaxed but focused which allows him to tell this story of success with business and personal conflict.  

Unfortunately, immediately after this small streak of good songs, Drake takes a nosedive into his usual quality, or lack thereof on the interlude, ‘BBL Love’. The only noteworthy part of this track is the horrendously terrible lyric, “They say love’s like a BBL, you won’t know if it’s real util you feel one”, which on top of sounding cringe, doesn’t even make sense.  

The following track, ‘Rich Baby Daddy’ is another dip in quality as the song contains a horrific verse from Sexxy Red. She sounds like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘WAP’ but less refined. She has the wild energy she’s known for except she just sounds unfinished and keeps repeating, “Shake that a**”. The song also features SZA who is completely underused and can’t save Drake again. 

The penultimate track is another forgettable collab between, this time with Lil Yachty. The production is synth heavy and psychedelic, (Reminiscent of Yachty’s 2023 psych-rock album Lets Start Here) which is a welcome change, but like most of the songs on the album, one good factor doesn’t make a good song. 

Finally, the album concludes with the track ‘Away From Home’ which has far better rapping than most songs on the album, but feels hollow, like there was meant to be a feature or something else was missing. Though the final track is good, it’s not nearly enough. 

Over, For All the Dogs has some incredible highs in songs like ‘First Person Shooter’ and especially ‘8am in Charlotte’ but many very painful, uncomfortable and cringe lows. Drake’s songwriting has gone from mid to horrendous on this LP. By far, For All the Dogs is his most cringe project to date. Especially when he is unironically rapping lyrics like, “Feel like I’m bi ‘cause you’re one of the guys, girl”, which appears on the awful track, ‘Member Only’ featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR. For All the Dogs is just another Drake album, it’s better than the worst rap that’s out there, but it is by no means good music. At this point, with all his recent releases, it has become an expectation that Drake will disappoint. 

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