For some months now people have anxiously anticipated So Far Gone, only the third mixtape from actor ternt rapper Drake, who fewer and fewer know for a starring role in the Canadian Saved By the Bell. He gained his first crop of fans stateside with his Comeback Season mixtape, a treasure for rap message board members across the internet and only a year later, young Drizzy Drake was hanging out with Lil Wayne. And now So Far Gone, a musical account of Drake’s life from January ’08 until now.
Drake’s good friend and studio engineer Noah “40” Shebib provides the bulk of some very minimalist production and the result is a smooth and consistent foundation for Weezy’s latest, greatest inspiration. When Drake does divulge from 40, it is a sound to behold. On “November 18th” Drizzy pours up for H-Town, going in over DJ Screw’s “June 27th” instrumental. Bun B and Lil’ Wayne also end up as supporting cast members on the neighborhood tout, “Uptown.” But the most thrilling bout with the self-proclaimed “Best Rapper Alive” is that of “Ignant Shit,” where Wayne and Drake spit devastating darts over the Just Blaze instrumental that eventually made it’s way onto Jiggaman’s American Gangster. Drake more than holds his own, delivering slick as baby oil couplets like, Count my own money, see the paper cut fingers/ my song is your girlfriend’s waking up ringer /…or alarm or whatever, she’d be here at 6 in the morn if I let her/ But I never get attracted to fans/ cuz their eager beaver could be the collapse of a dam.
So Far Gone’s biggest surprise (and possibly it’s most definitive feature) is the emergence of Drake the R&B singer. Drake’s harmonizing accounts for at least fifty percent of the tape and is the reason why it’s different from anything anyone else has released this year. To be clear, Drake is no Trey Songz, but they do hang out, and have a refreshingly honest collaboration about living “the life” in “Successful.” The tape is actually full of this type of introspection, giving Drake a dimension that he’d be hard pressed to find in even his rap mentors. So Far Gone certifies that Drake is indeed a superstar in the making, but I can’t remember the making of a superstar ever being this captivating.—Dan Vidal