Last Friday, Drake surprised fans with a drop of his newest mix tape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Rumors of the Toronto-born star’s newest project surfaced back in late November, when NBA Raptors’ DeMar Derozan hinted that Drake was working on a new peroject that would be released in January. The end of January approached, to no avail, when P. Reign of OVO and Reps Up confirmed the rumors of the mix tape, calling it some of Drake’s best work. Drake remained silent regarding the news until the 12th, when he posted album art for the If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late on Twitter, teasing fans for another 24 hours before finally dropping the tape.

If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late combines some experimental elements with other classically Drizzy ones, and the resulting sound is really refreshing. Staying characteristically true to his roots, the mix tape features a lot of keyboard action along with fresh electronic beats and raw, confrontational lyricism. The tracks are tied together using catchy rhymes, and Drake keeps listeners riveted by delivering the revolutionary emotional ride through the familiar smoothness of his voice.

The first half of the album is a bit weaker than the latter half. It’s comprised of a lot of slower beats, and some groundbreaking lyrics, but let’s be real, the tracks we love are the ones where Drake gets raw and gritty. The second half delivers that craving for personality and emotion. Several particular tracks stand out as possibly some of Drake’s best work to date.

“6 Man” is nothing short of impressive. With a sick beat backing him up, Drake takes his lyrics to the next level, often messing with the rhythm of his rapping. Adding in piano for the sung outro, Drake interprets a full verse of The Roots’ “You Got Me” (feat. Erykah Badu), which makes for a nice, clean ending. “Now and Forever” has an airy sound, whereas the lyrics are embedded deep in emotional roots. Pulling out all the stops for this one, Drake maintains his trademark repetitive chorus sung to a shaken up beat. The verses show us more of his emotion and reasoning behind leaving a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere. Album highlight, “You & The 6,” is a raw track dedicated to his mother, balancing out the detached nature of “Company.” Drake gives credit where it is due, expressing his thankful attitude toward his mother and towards his Toronto home. Rich in personality and sentiment, “You & The 6” explains Drake’s rough encounters on his road to fame. Lyrically and musically, this is the strongest track by far on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.

Overall, the mix tape gives the impression that Drake has a consistent trademark sound that is kept fresh by experimental beats, tunes and groundbreaking lyrics. From this surprise mix tape, we can see that Drake is preparing fans for a musically exciting year.

Grade: B+