The ‘Old Drake’ Barks Back on ‘For All The Dogs’

The album gives Drake fans the nostalgia of the “old Drake” music style while exploring the artist’s present uncertainty of what to do next. 

After a summer of teases, Drake released his eighth studio album “For All The Dogs” Oct. 6. Following his 2022 releases “Honestly, Nevermind” and “Her Loss,” his newest 23 track album uniquely delves into an aggravating love history affecting his dating, personal qualms about life and tense realities of knowing many relationships just aren’t meant to be. 

Designed by his 6-year-old son Adonis Graham, the album cover art is guided by Adonis’ view of his father as the greatest rapper and father of all time. The album begins by discussing the past years of Drake’s career, moving compositionally into Drake’s life now as a father, partner and artist.

The opening track “Virginia Beach” charms listeners, sampling singer-songwriter Frank Ocean’s unreleased tune “Wiseman.” Ocean’s soft vocals intertwined with Drake’s lyrical rap start the album off on a high. As different styles of music are introduced, a reimagined Drake emerges, challenging his previous old school-styled sounds. Ending the song with a gradual decrescendo, the outro embodies Ocean’s tone and style of music.

The second track “Amen” plays upon religious themes, referencing the parting of the Red Sea and incorporating a choiring church melody. Through religious references, Drake makes allusions to introducing women to his lavish lifestyle.

“That’s the perks of datin’ me / Red Merces with the red seats / Buy red wig, part the Red Sea,” Drake raps. 

Collaborating once again, 21 Savage’s feature on “Calling For You,” brings “Her Loss” fans back home. The steady beat and mixture of cymbals incorporate with Drake’s lyrics circling physical attraction to women at clubs. Drake’s lyrical talent pours throughout, flowing perfectly with the beat and background adlibs he implements. Entering 21 Savage’s half of the song, the beat change exemplifies the pair’s distinctly different music styles. 

Probing further into his conscience, “Fear Of Heights” and “Daylight” explore the many questions Drake has towards past relationships and exposure to gun violence. As “Daylight” concludes, a verse by Adonis adds a lighthearted presence to the song’s harshness. Though seemingly random, the feature leaves listeners smiling, subduing the intensity of the song’s subject matter.

“Don’t talk to my man like that / I like it when you like that / My, my, my, my man,” Adonis raps.

Rapper J. Cole makes a special appearance on “First Person Shooter,” the album’s sixth track. Cole carries the first half of the song, nodding to topics such as the viral Spider-Man meme and figuratively addressing real-world issues such as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. 

“Rhymin’ with me is the biggest mistake / The Spider-Man meme is me lookin’ at Drake,” Cole raps. 

“For All The Dogs” is a feature-heavy album — each artist, from SZA to Teezo Touchdown, embed multiple verses in each track, amplifying the tone and style of the overall project. 

Playing off the nonchalant personality of Yeat, a featured artist on “IDGAF,” Drake’s adlibs comedically spook listeners as voices switch from Yeat’s to Drake’s. 

Released as the first single, “Slime You Out” features dense bass and drums combined with SZA’s R&B sound. The song explores both artists’ experiences of being used by ex-lovers, cheating and lying. Ironically, the pair’s relationship history seems to be mended by their union of musical talent through the song. 

“Bahamas Promises” introduces a literal side to “For All The Dogs,” integrating dogs barking in the background. Tired of broken promises, the song integrates heartbreaking piano instrumentals to guide Drake’s lyrics, which add to the rapper’s catalog of still-hung-up on-them songs. 

Strong instrumentals carry “Tried Our Best” as Drake explains his efforts to stay loyal towards women. Afflicted by an argumentative relationship, muffled murmurs interject to disrupt Drake’s crisp vocal flow, signaling thoughts left unheard. 

With heavy dialogue from renowned hip-hop artist DJ Screw, “Screw The World – Interlude” provides a calming rhythm that carries the flow of the 1 minute 50 second interlude. 

Serene R&B rhythms continue in “Members Only” featuring R&B artist PARTYNEXTDOOR. 

“What Would Pluto Do” — an apparent reference to rapper Future, nicknamed Pluto — is Drake’s internal lamentation of how to romantically approach someone already in a relationship. Drake compares this situation to Future’s, who has a reputation for jumping from relationship to relationship

In their first release together, rapper Chief Keef joins Drake on “All The Parties,” a song that brings a nostalgic feeling to Drake’s reflection of his successes as an artist. 

The album’s second single “8am in Charlotte” continues Drake’s AM/PM track series throughout his discography. Both the song and the track that follows “BBL Love – Interlude” integrate Drake’s lyrics complemented by feminine background vocals and steady beats. The lyrics and vocalization add a comical tone as Drake’s voice is playfully autotuned.

Encompassing the uniqueness of his features, “Gently” showcases Latin music through infusions from Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny. Drake and Bad Bunny discuss their successes in the music industry from both an American and Latin perspective. 

In “Rich Baby Daddy,” Sexyy Red takes over the chorus, continuing the flow of uniqueness in her rap style. SZA, who also makes an appearance on the track, applies her seemingly effortless vocalizations to the upbeat tune. Shockingly unexpected, the song embodies the sassy side of Drake many fans love. 

Tracks “Another Late Night” and “Away From Home” both feature Lil Yachty, who touches on life before fame. 

Ranked number one on the album by Billboard, “Away From Home” gives Drake fans the nostalgia of “old Drake” music style while exploring the artist’s present uncertainty of what to do next. 

“Dead broke, splittin’ pennies with my members / Fuck a spread, we was splittin’ chicken tenders,” Drake raps. 

A thought-provoking and painful truth of a conclusion, “Polar Opposites” addresses the emotional complications of vulnerability and transparency in romantic relationships. He perfectly describes the confrontation of right person, wrong time. 

“I was being kind, I don’t understand ya / You should let your sister be the voice of reason / Either it’s your texts I’m misreading / Or it’s just your actions that are misleading,” he raps. 
“For All The Dogs” is available on all major platforms.

Featured image courtesy of Republic Records.

Julia Maina

Julia Maina