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Drake: So Far Gone (Album Review)

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Aubrey “Drake” Graham has come a long ways since his role as the physically disabled hoops star from Degrassi. Following the release of his initial mixtape, Room For Improvement, as well as the critically acclaimed Comeback Season, Drake caught the eye of Young Money CEO Lil’ Wayne who became a mentor of sorts to Graham. February 13, 2009 marked the

release of the highly-anticipated So Far Gone (originally scheduled for release a day before, but pushed back because of mixing down problems), which spawned 8,000 downloads within its initial two hours of release. The only question is: was it worth it?

So Far Gone commences with the soothing “Lust For Life” as Drake, in an almost dream-like state, touches on his ambitions and plans in life. “Houstatlantavegas” extends the lush vibe established on “Lust” as Drake alternates between both rhymes and vocals as he echoes his sentiments on the story of a black girl lost before Trey Songz and Lil’ Wayne join Drake on “Successful” as the three wax poetics on their strive for success in the form of “the money, money and the cars, cars and the clothes, the hoes”.

“November 18th” serves as an apt tribute to the late DJ Screw as Drake pays homage to the innovator of “chopped & screwed” while showcasing his talents by alternating between singing, rhyming and finally, a few chopped & screwed bars. Underrated crooner Lloyd accompanies Drake on the steamy “A Night Off” as the two serenade their respective ladies by taking a night off from the studio to spend some time during the course of a romantic evening. The passionate “Say What’s Real” serves as the centerpiece of Gone as Drake hops on Kanye West’s instrumental and successfully dismantles the record, painting a vivid sketch of his his surrounding environment as he examines and ponders what’s really real.

Drake continues to show his versatility as an artist as he jumps on overnight sensations Lykke Li’s “Little Bit” as well Santigold’s “Unstoppable” respectfully, melding his presence so well with the records that no one would know that he did not appear on the original. The latter part of So Far Gone appears to be designed to appeal strictly to the female gender with cuts like the heartfelt “Sooner Than Later”, “Bria’s Interlude” (most likely referring to model Bria Myles and the now-monstrous hit single “Best I Ever Had” before So Far Gone comes to a precise close with a simple champagne cork pop on “The Tourist Outro“.

The music and overall flow of So Far Gone allows it to stand as arguably one of the greatest mixtapes ever created, the one bump in the road being the questionable inclusion of “Let’s Call It Off” featuring Peter Bjorn and John. Chalk it up to Drake’s confidence getting the better of him for once. In reality, it stands as more of an album than many of the major label releases that are sold every year. Mixtapes have forever been used by artists for “promotional use only” so it is even more amazing that without a major label deal or the release of a debut opus, So Far Gone has garnered two charting singles in “Successful” and the (in)famous “Best I Ever Had” as well as a buzz not seen since Lil’ Wayne’s release of Tha Carter III or even 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin, a buzz so big “he could probably sell a blank disc”.

5 spins (out of 5)

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