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Drake's "Dark Lane Demo Tapes" Review: A Catalogue of Hits and Misses

An avid lover of music with a flair for writing. A core hip-hop fan with a thing for boom-bap beats and bars.

"Dark Lane Demo Tapes" Cover Art

"Dark Lane Demo Tapes" Cover Art

Album Review

Drake’s latest solo release Dark Lane Demo Tapes gives listeners a mixture of masterpieces and gloomy sounds, as a result of its introspective nature. The 14 track mixtape, offers the listener an introspective Drake, reminiscing about usual topics such as his relationships with women, complicated relationships with friends, and foes, his prominence in the music industry, and his wealth. The mixtape’s title Dark Lane Demo Tapes gives us a perfect insight into what we were to expect, a journey into the dark and troubled mind of one of the most successful artists of the past decade.

Although most tracks on the album sound sad, gloomy, and forlorn like the world we live in right now, kudos must be given to Drake for his desire to tap into new forays of sound, as he dispensed with some of the usual beat-making which we’ve been accustomed to, and experimented with U.K drill production which comes off quite brilliantly on the track “War”, which is produced by AXL beats. "Demons" also saw Drake combine well with Fivio Foreign and Sosa Geek to give a surge of adrenaline into an otherwise gloomy record. "D4L" featuring Future and Young Thug, sees Drake trying to keep up with his peers over a party-starting trap beat, which does well to light up the atmosphere of an otherwise dark project, as they pay tribute to Atlanta Hip-Hop group, "D4L".

Although much has been said about the mixtape having a rather gloomy feel, there are certain moments where such tracks give us a real insight into the mind of Drake and his genius. Tracks such as "Chicago Freestyle", which interpolates Eminem’s 2003 “Superman” classic is well-executed, as vocals from Giveon soothes the ears as Drizzy coolly interpolates Eminem’s "Superman" chorus. The flows and execution of this track are graciously done, and it is one of the high points of the mixtape. “When To Say When” also gives us one of those moments, as Drake graciously croons over a sample of Jay-Z’s “Song Cry”. Drake goes bonkers on this beat, spitting bars about his status in the music industry, and compares himself to Michael Jackson, which seems to be quite an obvious overstatement. “Time flies” also sees Drake go into full reflective mode and regretting some of his past actions over a steady beat as he taps into R&B sound.

When to say when And Chicago Freestyle video

Expectations are cut short when hugely anticipated “Pain 1993” featuring Playboi Carti, was largely underwhelming. This might be due to the squeaky alien voice that Playboi Carti uses, which sounds utterly irritating to the ears. The squeaky alien voice, which is yet to be embraced by hip hop fans, is making some lose interest in Playboi Carti's eagerly anticipated Whole lotta red album, which is expected to be released later this year. “Not You Too” featuring Chris Brown, was also quite underwhelming, as it injected a gloomy feel into what was expected to be a banger track. Fans of the collaboration of Future and Drake may also feel let down that “Desires” didn’t fulfill their expectations, as the track lacked the urgency and catchy vibe they are known to produce when working together on a track.

Heavily maligned Tik-Tok Banger, "Toosie slide" is also one of the low-points of the mixtape, as the aim of the track was to inspire a dance craze all over the video-sharing application, Tik-Tok. Drake’s marketing strategies have always been top-notch, and this was one of those moments. The music video depicts the state of the world we live in right now, and Drake tries to liven it up with his “left foot up, right foot slide” instructional dance song. Although this worked out well as the track debuted at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, core hip hop fans were rattled, as they believed Drake sacrificed the lyrical contents of a rap song just for it to be called a hit. In my opinion, it was merely a basic instructional dance song.

Expectations are cut short when hugely anticipated “Pain 1993” featuring Playboi Carti, was largely underwhelming.

Drake's ability to keep up with the times has always been commended, and he continues to prove that point with tracks such as "War", "Demons", and "D4L". It shows he still can hop on any style of music, and make it sound great. However, the lyrical content of his songs does not indicate his growth as an artist, as he sounds like a successful man taking shots at everybody but himself. Drake’s pettiness gets the best of him on several tracks as he sends subliminal insults to unknown artists, where he expresses his grievances to the wind without actually calling out names. Whining about his complicated relationships with women, and at times complaining about his success, is gradually becoming one of the things we are to expect from a Drake project nowadays, as he raps on "When To Say When" “Five hundred weeks / I fill the charts with my pain” which is quite cringe-worthy as not all of his raps talk about his experiences or pain.

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Final Verdict

In conclusion, Dark Lane Demo Tapes is just a mixtape comprising of “some leaks and some joints from SoundCloud and new vibes” as Drake described it on his OVO Instagram live. Some of the tracks are leftovers from the tiresome Scorpion album, which he chose to release to keep fans geared up for his sixth studio album, expected to be released this year. “Lucky 6”, he described the new album, however, he should better do away with the old contents that filled this mixtape, and tap into the genius I know he has to offer as seen on tracks such as “Demons”, “Chicago Freestyle” and “War”, as I expect a classic Drake album. Fingers crossed on that one.

Essential Tracks: "Chicago freestyle", "Demons".

You can purchase the mixtape from Amazon here - Dark Lane Demo Tapes


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Fawaz Akintunde


Dolapo on May 15, 2020:

This is nice !!!

Bolade on May 15, 2020:

This is amazing and makes me wanna listen to the songs.

Tola on May 15, 2020:

Great work

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