Drake - Dark Lane Demo Tapes (Mixtape Review)

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

Drake, arguably the biggest artist in the world right now, is back with a surprise mixtape consisting of loose throwaways and leaks titled 'Dark Lane Demo Tapes'. It seemed nothing of note was dropping on Friday before rumours circulated that Drake was dropping - then the big man himself confirmed it AND said he's got a new album ready for the Summer. After a string of disappointing and mediocre projects, I wasn't sure how to feel going into this one - but I was presently surprised to say the least. The production on the album is great overall with it's slow pace, lowkey and chilled vibes. The production is the main ingredient on this album that gets you in such a relaxed state and creates the atmosphere for the whole project. Drake has taken a look back at lyricism rather than sound this album, reminiscent of his older work - and his lyricism is good - not great though. He always seems to have some great one liners that would make great Instagram captions but also has some so and so tracks when it comes to his lyrics. Despite just being thrown together, Drake sounds focused on this project and has found the right balance between hard, gritty rapping and his melodic flow. His flow is smooth too and feels almost sprinkled over the beat which is great on the ear. The features on this album are a good fit for the atmosphere, and the track the majority of the time. Pretty much every feature on this album adds something or at least has some kind of presence apart from Playboi Carti who really dissapoints on the track 'Pain 1993'. Finally a mention to the subject matter which is quite coherent despite the fact it's a mixtape of leaks, loose tracks and throwaways. The common content in this project ranges from his success, past beefs and relationships - so the usual. He never scratches the surface with these and usually goes quite into detail finding multiple ways to talk about them.

Deep Pockets

The introduction to this mixtape is a good start, as Drake flexes and talks on how far he's come in the rap game. The production is nice - not outstanding - with it's slow, soul feel to it and Drake's melody on the hook is great. As usual this track is littered with quotable one liners but also a few meh punchlines from Drake never the less it's a good start.


When To Say When

A track already released from Drake a month or two ago, 'When To Say When' is a great song. It's full of bars and great one liners here and there, "How you gon' treat this shit like you gon' get to live again?", as Drake covers a whole range of topics such as his wealth, status in the rap game, his numerous beefs and why he's as successful as he is. His flow is great over this bouncy soul beat with a catchy drum pattern and vocal samples and it's a real return to form for Drake.


Chicago Freestyle

Another track released alongside 'When To Say When', 'Chicago Freestyle' see's Drake talk on his past relationships and looking to settle down. With decent lyrics, and a relaxing beat suitable for late night music it's another great track. The feature Giveon, had a great hook with raw vocals which really added emotion to the atmosphere - the only fault I can find with the track is the real simplistic rhyme scheme I suppose.


Not You Too

The production on this track again is great with a retro feel to it as the quick hi-hats and 808s contrast well with the rest of the slow paced beat. Just before the beat gets stale some falling synths were introduced to spark things up giving it a real R&B groove to it which worked well. Drake is joined by Chris Brown who provides backing vocals and talks on being betrayed by a woman and you can safely say he's four for four at this part of the mixtape.

Toosie Slide

The number one song in the US at the moment, 'Toosie Slide' makes an appearance on the tracklist. Originally, I thought this song was just alright - but a bit lazy however it flows really nicely on this tape and with the help of Tik Tok it's really stuck in my head. The beat despite being chilled carries enough energy with it and again, despite lazy songwriting it's a song about a dance so it's not a big deal. I now really enjoy this song and find myself returning to it quite a bit.


Desires

The beat to 'Desires' is a generic and simplistic - especially them 808s. The track again talks on the breakdown of a relationship and Drake does go pretty hard on this but there was no need for a third verse. Some lyrics as well were a bit meh such as "How you goin' vegan, but still beefin' with me again?" - I've heard the beef/vegan wordplay a lot I don't need to again. Future on this track had an alright melody but there wasn't anything special about the verse. It's a decent song, with a decent hook and nice melody but it was also just a bit generic and the first real miss of the tracklist.


Time Flies

Things pick back up here. The fast high hats and the softy synths are great, create a great vibe as Drake sings about a girl and his feelings of regret and loneliness. It's a solid track, and it's hook is catchy and inviting which emphasises this track a lot.


Landed

Drake is talking on his luxurious lifestyle on this track with a braggadocio tone over some fast paced 808s and high hats as well as some moving synths creating a bit of a banging beat. It's an alright track but Drake's style of delivery in his verses is just a little off-putting.


D4L

This song is more of an upbeat track and features two of traps finest, Future & Young Thug. Future's performance here is much better than the previous track he featured on while Thug's classic melody made an appearance and his vocal pitch changes sounds good as usual. Drake's style was much better than on 'Landed' and he rode the beat well to create a good song.

Pain 1993

This track is a bit of mismatch. The song's pretty simplistic with the odd decent bar and the whole focus of the song is just to flex. One one side, the psychedelic beat is good - but not as good as the other beats on this project and while Drake's hook and verse (mimicking Playboi Carti) was nice, the man himself Playboi Carti's verse is easily skipped because he sounds like he's straining for a shit - it's just a very confusing verse and he ruins the momentum of the song.


Losses

Once again a more slow placed song helped along by the heavy 808s and quick hi-hats, Drake talks on the usual topics of a failed relationship. With some good one liners, "Even when being real is out of fashion // N***** keep stealin' my style, now we out here matchin'", it's another song with a chilled vibe that again works well in the context of the album.


From Florida With Love

I personally love this song. Firstly, the lo-fi beat and deep 808s as usual create a great beat. Secondly, it covers a whole range of topics such as his robbery, relationship with Lil Wayne, reminiscing a story with the late Static Major and finally he pays tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. The hook here is simple but so catchy and it's what keeps me coming back.


Demons

This song is a banger. The choir vocal sample and sliding 808s get you hyped and it begins with Drake's verse who's flow/delivery makes it really enjoyable. Following that is Fivio Foreign, who's delivery is so nasty that it fits the track perfectly partnered by his mean bars as he talks on killing his opps. Finishing off the song is Sosa Geek, he doesn't sound out of place and sounded hungry in his verse but was still the weakest part of the song - still good though.


War

Finishing off this album is 2019's track 'War'. This track takes inspiration from the UK drill scene - in both the beat and lyrics. He talks on his opps, success and even his relationship with The Weeknd. His rapping is good on the track but when he uses British slang or UK drill terms it comes off a bit cringe and I don't care much for what he's saying during the long verse.

To conclude, Drake's new project is great. It's both chilled and hard at the same time, taking less of the usual afrohall & R&B influence and focusing on straight rapping reminiscent of the days of 'If You're Reading This It's Too Late'. He didn't leave his comfort zone much but it still works. It's 100% a step in the right direction - it's time to see if the album delivers now.


FAVOURITE TRACKS: When To Say When, Chicago Freestyle, Not You Too, Toosie Slide, Desires, Time Flies, From Florida With Love


LEAST FAVOURITE TRACK: Pain 1993

OVERALL RATING: Light 7.5/10


*REVISED SCORE: Review may not match favourite tracks and overall rating because I've since re-listened and changed my score.*

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