So Far Gone
October’s Very Own
Drake is an enigma to me. How can such an expressionless, goody two shoes lame-o who as far as I’ve actually heard anything of his hasn’t had an original idea in his life, get so much exposure. Seriously, if Drake proves anything by his success it is that hiphop is dead while autotune and emo-culture will plague us for the rest of eternity.
Anyway, Aubrey “Drake” Graham (although Drake is actually his middle name so perhaps the quotation marks are redundant) hails from Toronto, Canada. He rose to fame by playing a wheelchair bound character in the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: the Next Generation and gained so much street cred in doing so he though he would be a fantastic rapper. Inspired by T-Pain’s ascent he found himself an incredibly talented singer, too and he got it cracking recording a bunch of mixtapes which he released independently, including his third: So Far Gone. This one became so successful that a hit single Best I Ever Had was released off it and some of the tracks, the ones which didn’t steal expensive-to-clear bits and pieces from the Swedish hipster Indie rock or rap music Mr. Graham likes to listen to, were commercially released as the So Far Gone EP. Since then Drake released his debut studio album Thank Me Later which sold a lot of copies. Also, he has gained a lot of imitators such as Wiz Khalifa, although Wiz only sounds like him. He raps about Pittsburg and pot rather than having sex while crying. My quest to find out why anybody gives a fuck begins with reviewing the So Far Gone mixtape. I am not looking forward to this as I take the guy about as seriously as, or maybe even less than fellow Canadian jackass Justin Bieber.
Let’s do this…
1. Lust For Life
Some really spacey atmospheric strings and something, which could be either a percussion or some form of scratching, provide the backdrop for Drake to spit some somewhat clever bars over, and even though he throws in some auto-tuned singing this isn’t bad an introduction, I guess.
I’m not sure what houstatlantavegasing someone is supposed to mean. As far as I can tell it’s a euphemism for some deviant sexual act. Musically this is pretty much a direct continuation of Lust For Life. Because Drake at the time of So Far Gone’s release was probably still living of Degrassi paychecks, as he hadn’t yet released any material anything anyone could (or would?) pay for, he resorts to throw his Canadian $1,-s in the sky rather than the higher denominations which other, richer rappers would toss into the air in the name of “swag”. At least that what I think he means.
3. Succesful (feat. Trey Songz & Lil Wayne)
There’s no real reason to insert Trey Songz into one of your songs ever, unless you want people’s reactions to be “Has Ne-Yo become even more generic?” if they choose to react at all, that is. So far the instrumentals of So Far Gone all sound the same; like the audio-equivalent of how the after-effects of mdma feel to me, which isn’t pleasant or unpleasant. It is numb rather. Weezy has gotten a lot of criticism for rhyming exactly like Drake does ever since the two hooked up. People who say that are pretty much dead on.
4. Let’s Call It Off (feat. Peter Bjorn & John)
A lot has been said on blogs about Aubrey jumping onto the instrumental of Swedish indie rock band Peter Bjork & John’s Let’s Call It Off and leaving part of their original vocals in. Three things strike me about this. [one] This sounds precisely as bland as most of the motherfucking genre the original belongs to does to me, which helps Let’s Call It Off slip seamlessly onto So Far Gone. [two] The vocals of the original song’s artists are so effectively mixed into the background that they convey either a misguided attempt at subtlety or a rather large lack of confidence on Peter Bjork & John’s part in their own vocal performances. (although I didn’t look up the original, so I wouldn’t know whether or not they are responsible for how they were mixed in here) [three] This would be the most obvious mixtape moment of So Far Gone so far, since everything leading up to this had original beats, and to license this for a commercially available album would be pretty expensive.
5. November 18th
Since the guy who allegedly produced Novemner 18th, DJ Screw had been dead for the better part of 10 years when this came out this was either swapped from something he produced before he died or something previously unused taken from his vaults. I will say the combination of the chopped ‘n’ screwed vocals sampled from the Notorious B.I.G.’s Warning and Drake’s auto-tuned ones create a potent contrast but that’s about all there is to this so meh.
6. Ignorant Shit (feat. Lil’ Wayne)
This steals Just Blaze’s beat to Jay-Z’s song of the same title which samples the faster part of The isley Brothers’ quiet storm classic Between the Sheets. It’s a’aight I guess. Both Drizzy and Weezy provide some clever punchlines sans hook the best of which is Weezy’s sizzurp-fried assertion that “[he’s] so high [he] can vomit on a comet”. Jay’s version original featuring Beanie Sigel is still a lot better though, but that’s mostly because I prefer the Jiggaman’s cocky swag raps to Drake’s hipster emo bullshit. Finally, Drake seems to have forgotten the entire Ignorant Shit theme while Wayne rarely deviates from it ever in his entire career and doesn’t start here.
7. A Night Off (feat. Lloyd)
At the end of Ignorant Shit the beat gets slowed down and it bleeds into this track which sounds a lot like the minimalist first three songs off this mixtape. To hear an autotuned Drake and girly ass sounding R&B singer Lloyd sing come-ons (seemingly directed at one another) wasn’t very satisfying both musically and intellectually so no, this isn’t very good.
8. Say What’s Real
More minimalistic ambient sounding shit. This one is more bleep centric than most of what came before it. The beat used here was swiped from one of Kanye’s 808 & Heartbreak songs. Kanye’s depressed version seems to have inspired each and every bit of everything Drake has done ever.
9. Little Bit (feat. Likke Ly)
Apparently Aubrey Listens to a lot of Swedish pop music and likes to duet these artists making it on mixtapes without their actual participation or consent. I wonder when ABBA gets the treatment.
10. Best I Ever Had
This was a hit single, which free mixtapes don’t generally have but whatever, the instrumentation, courtesy of now-hit producer Boi-1da is a lot richer and upbeat than what we’ve heard on this mixtape so far. Basically this is about how some girl is the best Drake ever fucked, although our host doesn’t do a very convincing job spreading that message. I never gave much of fuck about this song hearing it on the radio or on MTV but in the context of this mixtape-album it sounds pretty fucking awesome, but that says more about how dull everything before this is.
11. Unstoppable (feat. Santigold & Lil Wayne)
I never took the time to listen to Santigold so I can’t tell you which one of her creations gets raped and pillaged right here, or whether it’s an improvement. I will say Lil Wayne’s performance sucks big floppy donkey dick on this song and I’m getting pretty goddamn sick of So Far Gone by now.
12. Uptown (feat. Bun B & Lil Wayne)
This Boi-1da production sounds like a codeine fried, bouncy, southern-hiphop track, which it should, I suppose since it features Bun B, whose UGK buddy Pimp C killed himself by drinking too much sizzurp and Lil Wayne, who’s probably right in the middle that exact same process right now. This isn’t half bad, though.
13. Sooner Or Later
Also, Drake sounds like a fucking creep through autotune in my humble opinion.
14. Bria’s Interlude (feat. Omarion)
Was B2K’s Omarion in 2009 even relevant enough to be put on an interlude of a free mixtape? I can’t make up who the hell Bria is supposed to be by listening to this, or why she wasn’t worthy of a song-length ode, so this was many different kinds of useless.
15. The Calm
The title is an utter and complete misfit. Otherwise, a brand new track but more of the same ol’ bullshit I’ve heard far too much of…
16. Brand New
This is much more straightforward R&B than most of this project. If Ne-Yo was an autotuned emo he would’ve recorded this shit. And So Far Gone is through, finally.
Ignorant Shit, Best I Ever Had, Uptown
Drake’s version of “hiphop” is mostly outright neutered R&B emo. Drake seems to do very little satisfying things in his little superstar life. He sleeps with a lot of women but after he’s done fucking you and before he moves on to the next one he’ll complain to you about how hollow you have made him feel, ladies be warned. Also, the style Drake uses on here is almost completely jacked from Kanye’s minimalistic autotuned R&B album 808’s & Heartbreak, which was in and by itself not a fantastic album to begin with. The only reason this gets spin which I can think of, is because today’s hipster youth seems to like to believe thaey are as without direction and numb as the character which Drake portrays does, which is just sad really. The guy isn’t a terrible rapper per se but here he has used his skills to make a sterile mood album in which all the songs run together and everything is meh in from his point of view. Even when he does boast about whatever riches he owns or about all the women wanting to sleep with him it seems like he just does that because he thinks it makes him more “hiphop”, rather than any sort of genuine excitement he feels about it. The best track on here is Ignorant Shit but that’s just some blatant beat swiping from a superior song so yeah, this wasn’t enjoyable, at all.
This one is for the skinny jeans wearing, Pabst blue ribbon-sipping, “OMG, Jackson Pollock is such a fantastic painter.”, phat glasses with clear lenses sporting, progressive leftist, “bi-curious”, “I used to like this band, until they sold out”, melancholic, planking, “You cannot ever grasp what I am trying to convey in this haiku!, “mainstream-hater” only. Of you’re not one of those So Far Gone will probably either put you to sleep or make you lose your temper. Then again it is available for free, and while I’m not a fan the kids do seem to like this douchebag, so besides a loss of your time and confusion about what the fuck has happened to the world and hiphop in particular lately, you haven’t got much to lose. I hope this doesn’t come across as me daring you to listen to this. I don’t. You shouldn’t give a fuck about this. Really.