Dark Lane Demo Tapes is exactly how it sounds


Reviewed by Sophia Guerrier

We knew new Drake was coming. The SoundCloud leaks, “Life is good” with Future, and the pre-summer months rolling around the corner. We all knew we could not escape Drake’s obsession with remaining the kingpin of Hip Hop, although its landscape has completely warped since his entrance over a decade ago.

Dark Lane Demo Tapes is undoubtedly a mixtape of throwaways speculated to be songs that got cut for Drake’s confirmed upcoming album. It is also the Toronto native’s first body of work since his last LP, Scorpion, a trivial double album haunted by Pusha T’s social media outburst and revealing of Drake’s offspring. Pusha T’s challenge might have been an L to Drake’s record of rap beefs but surprisingly there is an absence of scornful sentiment on this tape. Drake does a 360 from his mobster guise and trades in his vengeful raps for a return to his contagious melodies and reminiscences.

“Deep Pockets” is a warm welcome to Drake’s newfound freedom from the Young Money/Cash Money imprint with an instrumental that resembles the nostalgic, soft sounds of his earlier work. Paired with biographical flashbacks of his career, the track is a refreshing memoir to Drake’s uncertain emergence to his now superstardom. “Deep Pockets” sets the tone for an overall driven juncture that may prelude the theme for his sixth studio album.  

A blatant element to Drake’s strategy of staying relevant is to jump on whichever style that is not only trendy but also the one he can imitate the best. His three-year tenure with UK drill has been exuded the most, but on “Demons” he is accompanied by Brooklyn rappers Fivio Foreign and Sosa Geek to undertake the cross-Atlantic version of the subgenre. He did hold his weight though. The same goes for his verse on “Pain 1993” featuring millennial favorite, Playboi Carti. Drake’s matching of Carti’s quick, playful flow poses as a rendition to why he is still able to run with the younger generation of artists. “Toosie Slide”, a dance tribute to teenaged choreographer, Toosie, can be regarded as Drake “just having fun” but it does not erase the fact that it is corny. The creation of “Toosie Slide” seemed like Drake’s attempt to still feel youthful as the demographic of Hip Hop fans start to shift into younger waves. Its global success on Tik Tok says it all, considering the target audience of the video-sharing site is politely 15 years younger than he is.

On the production side, a spectrum ranging from R&B to Atlanta trap held up the backend of the tape.
Dark Lane Demo Tape’s variety of beats kept it diverse in nature without overstepping Drake’s occasional monotoned, rambling bars like in “Losses”. The casual manner of instrumentals was fitting due to the disposition of why the tape was released.

The toll of being in the game for over 10 years and reaching the pinnacle of musical success is starting to show on this project. Drake is unquestionably showing signs of a lack of intricate content and emotion and is solely reverting to generally structured songs that imitate younger, hotter artists. It is not necessarily a bad avenue because he has the talent to continue making hits, but there is a hint of lack of authenticity. On the contrary, the majority of songs were attention-grabbing and “Timeflies” proved that Drake’s melodies are still irresistible. Now, we can only wait and see what Drake actually has in store for us in his summer album.