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“For All the Dogs” may not be for all the people

“For All The Dogs” is the 8th full length album from Canadian singer, songwriter and rapper Drake. It left me with mixed feelings, wanting more at times, wanting less at others. 

Released on Oct. 6, “For All The Dogs” has Drake returning to his old heartbroken self, similar to “Certified Lover Boy,” released in 2021.

Also similar to “CLB,” the album is yet another lengthy project, consisting of 23 tracks and spanning almost an hour and a half in duration.

“For All The Dogs” does not really have a central theme like a usual Drake album. Each track dances around a different topic leaving the scope of the album very broad.

Drake narrates about how all of his exes are fake and toxic, while also singing about his hard-earned success, contributing to the sheer Drake-ness of this album.

Accompanying Drake in this wide range of themes is a hefty list of features including big mainstream artists like J. Cole, SZA, Yeat and 21 Savage. With a feature list this stacked, I was very curious as to what I would experience diving into this project.

(Explicit content warning)

“Calling For You”

Track 3, “Calling For You,” which featured 21 Savage, was one of my least favorite songs on this project.

The track had an unnecessarily long intro, filled with empty bars from an artist who clearly didn’t know what to do with all of that time.

Drake pitches his vocals high in the first few minutes of the track with awkward autotune layered over, creating an uncomfortable experience.

He also included a woman ranting about how she didn’t enjoy her vacation with him, creating an extremely dragged-out section that was by far the most arduous part of the track.

Drake’s bars felt very choppy, with almost zero flow from one to the next. Additionally, there are many portions of the song with just empty space, the instrumental failing to fill the time adequately, and this created an unbalanced and strange aurora.

21 Savage’s verse at the end of the track was the most appealing part of this track, but it was not up to par with his previous collaborations with Drake, leaving more to be desired. 

The production was very good on this track, and I feel like if it was shortened a bit and had more substantial bars, this could have been one of the best off of the album for sure.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

“First Person Shooter”

The sixth track, “First Person Shooter,” features J. Cole and is one of my favorites on this album.

The beat is very dark and intense, with deep cycling background vocals, fast-paced drums, all accompanied by J. Cole and Drake’s lyrics.

The duo rap about “being the greatest of all time,” boasting their successes as hip-hop icons.

Like most Drake and J. Cole collaborations, this track was filled with hype during its entirety, the bars from J. Cole and Drake energizing the track.

For instance, J. Cole likens his collaboration with Drake to being “as big as the Super Bowl,” yet also reminds the listener that it is just “stuff two guys created in the studio.” Not only does it identify the magnitude of this collaboration, but it also demonstrates how the duo can garner this amount of attention by just being together.

This track is one of the most streamed on the album, and I think that it definitely deserves the hype.

The track was very energetic and powerful, both Drake and Cole’s verses weaving together to create a wave of bars that hit hard.

Rating: ★★★★☆

“IDGAF”

The seventh track on this album was “IDGAF,” featuring Yeat.

The introduction to this track was incredible, with ethereal vocals and an almost jazz-inspired instrumental.

It also had 80’s-synthwave-esque effects as backing, which greatly added to the enjoyment and gave it a mysterious, space-age vibe.

However, the instrumental transitioned into a brash and gritty beat accompanied by Yeat’s vocals, which was a jarring change in pace for the track.

While Yeat’s vocals are certainly not terrible, I do wish that the track could have developed that mysterious vibe from the introduction further.

Yeat’s bars feel a little bit shallow with lyrics such as “I’m counting up money for fun,” and “I’m poppin’ these Percs just for fun,” not contributing much to the depth of the song.

However, this is the style of Yeat most of the time, and is to be expected with a song featuring him.

The track was also mostly focused on Yeat, who had the spotlight for most of the track, making Drake seem like a feature on his own song.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

“8am in Charlotte”

The 17th track, “8am in Charlotte,” is my favorite off of this project.

The track has a very laid-back and flowy instrumental, feeling almost like it would be played late at night in a fancy bar.

The gospel vocals in the background accompanied by the smooth jazzy piano chords create an ambience that is satisfying to the ears.

There are some corny bars here and there on this track, “Things get kinky after 15 years of dominance” being the most prominent, but this is to be expected from Drake at this point.

Another thing I really like about this track is that it has no features. Drake’s lyricism and his flow stand out on their own, without having to rely on another artist to keep things interesting.

This track feels like Drake is almost having a conversation with the listener, expressing his feelings about how he wants to influence his “dawgs” to become better people.

Drake also deals with beef on this track, taking shots at famous rapper NBA YoungBoy who had dissed him on one of his own tracks.

I felt very impressed by the production and quality of this track, and I resonated with it on a personal level.

Drake feels very relaxed with his vocals on the track, moving with the beat. The lyrics were almost freestyle-like with satisfying rhyme schemes to tie it all together.

Rating: ★★★★☆

“Gently”

One of my least favorite tracks was “Gently,” the 19th song on this album featuring Bad Bunny.

This song was a complete mess, and left me physically uncomfortable. Drake brings Bad Bunny onto the track just to rap in an extremely poorly crafted accent.

While the instrumental isn’t that bad and the repeating guitar plucks and synths are enjoyable, Drake’s vocals were simply too horrible to overlook.

In the first half of the song, Drake interpolates Spanish into his English vocals, creating a Frankenstein monster of a verse, which leads into a beat switch accompanied by Bad Bunny’s lyrics.

The second half of the song felt a little bland and boring, with a single repeating background vocal and simple drums. Bad Bunny offers almost no emotion in his lyrics, marching through them as if it was a tedious day job.

This track could have been a lot better if Drake decided to do his own thing instead of trying to match Bad Bunny. Additionally, the second beat could have been developed a little bit more, and some variance in the second half would have helped a lot.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Overall, “For All The Dogs” felt very scattered, and the quality of the tracks seemed varied. While there were certainly some bangers on this album, the project felt bloated with too many tracks to be a comfortable listen.

I felt very mixed about this album, some tracks hooking my attention and leaving me enamored, meanwhile others leaving me feeling dissatisfied and disappointed.

Although Drake was a lot smarter with his song placement than on something like “Certified Lover Boy,” pushing most of the good tracks toward the end, the album did have its fair share of duds.

I think that it would have been much better for Drake to concentrate his efforts on a fewer number of tracks to really perfect his songs. There were some great moments on this album, but overall it was a bit of a let down.

Favorite Track: “8am in Charlotte”

Least Favorite Track: “Gently”

— By Daniel Holz

"For All the Dogs"
CALLING FOR YOU
FIRST PERSON SHOOTER
IDGAF
8AM IN CHARLOTTE
GENTLY
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