Modern Pop Hip-Hop Began In Drake's "If You're Reading This It's Too Late"

It's undeniable that Drake has helped shape the face of popular hip-hop. His sound has become a sort of standard to follow for many hip-hop artists nowadays, and more power to it - it's a clear way to gain some success. His last two albums Views and More Life have skyrocketed with success and both pretty much abuse the same formula Drake has written music with for years now.

When this formula first started, it really took off, though. It pretty much defined this new era of style. You can thank Drake's 2015 mixtape If You're Reading This It's Too Late for that sound we have today. This record pretty much instituted the standard synth and mid-tempo sound in hip-hop. It's filled with glimmering synths and deep bass in the beats amidst an otherwise set of minimal instrumentals moving at a mid-tempo. 

There are plenty of moments on If You're Reading This It's Too Late that really show how this style prevailed. '6 Man' perfectly fits the ticket with it's minimalistic instrumental and dancing synth line that dances above the pretty sparse beat, with Drake rapping methodically and thoughtfully, ultimately cumulating to a softer sound at the end to offer a bit of an alternative vibe. '10 Bands' closer to the start of the record is similarly crystalline, the beat slowly and subtly building up as Drake flows over the track.

This record set a lot of precedents for Drake. "Running through the six with my woes" in 'Know Yourself' and his title as the 6 God both root from this album. Not only did the musical style become a standard, but so did his vibe. He raps with a lot of passion for love and even some aggression. Mostly, he becomes Toronto's biggest sadboy in this album, with songs such as 'Now & Forever' dramatically proclaiming things like "I'm leaving, I'm gone / No looking back when I'm gone... No more, no more, no more" as he raps about a falling out with friends (in this case, Birdman and Cash Money Records). 

Though there are definitely some hype up songs like the hugely driven and urgent '6 God,' there are many slow tracks that actually tend to bring the record down, particularly at the end. This album comes with a lot of beef: Drake destroys the haters in 'Energy,' Birdman in 'Now & Forever,' and more. That anger really just dies at the very end of the album. 'Jungle' is so utterly slow that you practically find yourself begging for it to up its sluggish tempo so that the next song can come. When it does, '6PM In New York' ends the album on a pretty unsatisfying note with a similar slowness. Moodiness is fine, but when much of the album finds itself talking about struggle in a dark and enraged light, to end an album with such a weak note feels wasted. Sadly, this is also a theme that often finds itself as part of modern hip-hop.

Modern pop hip-hop began in Drake's If You're Reading This It's Too Late, for better and for worse. It defined a new era of sound in the genre, while offering up a certain sense of anger that could not be found anywhere else in more subtle wordplay. However, the drawback of comfortableness with the sound and a loss of direction also carried out in the genre. With his new albums, Drake proved that this sound is a formula for success, but when will he need to change up the game again? He has the power to do what he wants. Perhaps he's brewing the next revolution right now.

Favorite Tracks: 6 God, 6 Man, 10 Bands

Least Favorite Tracks: Jungle, Used To, 6PM In New York

Rating: 78 / 100

Buy or listen to If You're Reading This It's Too Late here: