I've already seen this mixtape on several "Best Mixtapes of 09" lists, and every time it was rated very favorably. I read somewhere that Jay-Z called it one of the hottest mixtapes around, and with that kind of co-sign I felt compelled to tackle this album.
The first two tracks were "Lust for Life", which we decided was basically an introduction, and "Houstatlantavegas", which confused us slightly. The intro was slightly underwhelming, but not too offensive to the ears. However, "Houstatlantavegas" drew the ire of Gary. He stated emphatically that he would never listen to this song on his own time, and added that there was a possibility that he had heard this song at a strip club. Gary described the first two songs as "doing-it music", and I have to agree with this assessment. Both songs were these real slow, slinky R&B numbers with Drake singing on Auto-Tune Level 11.
The next song was "Successful", and it was a considerable upgrade over the first two tracks. Gary said that he thought this song had hit potential, and I agree but only because this track also has Lil' Wayne on it. Gary also expounded on a theory of his in which he believes that Drake makes R&B songs to get Jay-Z's attention, and that eventually Jay-Z is going to hook Drake up and deliver him to superstardom. I don't doubt that Jay-Z is going to have a hand in Drake's development, but I have a hard time believing that the reason for doing so would be because of R&B songs.
The next track was called "Lets Call It Off" and featured Peter, Bjorn, and John. This song was a complete change from the other tracks at this point, and to boot it was quite a good song. Gary called it a "toe-tapper", and said that the whole album should have sounded like this. I liked this song a lot as well, and felt very much relieved that we finally found a song that didn't suck.
The song "November 18th" followed, and upon reflection we determined that it may be the best song on the album. Things are starting to look up.
"Ignorant Shit" was a track on Jay-Z's American Gangster album, but Drake and Lil' Wayne rhyme over the beat for this mixtape. It only took six songs, but we finally got a full-on rap song out of this guy. Drake can rap a little bit, and at one point he had a pretty funny line about how gangsters and hipsters listen to his shit.
The next song was called "Night Off" and featured Lloyd, but Gary skipped it because he had had enough slow jams for the evening.
"Say Whats Real" had Drake going in over the beat from Kanye's "Say What You Will". This was one of the best tracks of the night. Not only can Drake rap, but he can say something as well. He doesn't deliver hollow lyrics. Well, he does sometimes, but on this song he sounds like a man with a purpose.
"Little Bit" featured Lykke Li, and was woven into this weird duet type song. It was a cool idea and it was certainly ambitious, but the beat was louder than the voices.
"Best I Ever Had" is somewhat of a hit at the moment as it is played on the radio and on television. The song is what it is. It sounds like the kind of song that gets played on the radio. Gary called Drake a "hoser" for making this song.
I was really excited about "Unstoppable" because it had Santigold on it, but I found myself slightly disappointed when the song ended. The Santi part seemed pasted in there like it wasn't there initially, and for whatever as a sample it failed. Gary started shaking his head when it got to the part with Lil' Wayne on it. "Well, it isn't my least favorite song," Gary said.
"Uptown" started off as an OK song, but then became a pretty good song when it got to the part with Bun B.
The last few tracks on the album were all kind of indistinguishable from one another. "The Calm" wasn't a bad song, and Gary said that he was kind of digging the whole idea of rapping over a low beat. When it was all said and done, Gary and I determined that we weren't crazy about the first few songs, and we weren't crazy about the last few either. Basically, this mixtape is like a sandwich. Its kind of fluffy on the top and bottom, but the meat in the middle isn't bad.
Gary said there were eight songs that he liked, and out of those 8 he would play 3 of them under his own accord. I counted nine that I liked in one way or another. Gary admitted to adamantly hating the beginning and end of the album while I wouldn't go that far. I didn't really hate any of it, but there were parts that I wasn't totally digging. "It was alright, but it didn't make me want to say 'Aw Shit Son!'", Gary said.
In our final verdict, Gary and I deem that Drake is not bullshit based on the strength of the rap songs on this mixtape and the collaboration with Peter, Bjorn, and John. Gary feels like some of the R&B stuff is pretty colossal bullshit, but the rap songs make up for it. So the tape isn't bullshit, and hopefully this post isn't either.