Drake Masters the Art of Leak Culture on ‘Dark Lane Demo Tapes’

“My brothers @oliverelkhatib @ovonoel put together alot of the songs people have been asking for (some leaks and some joints from SoundCloud and some new vibes) DARK LANE DEMO TAPES out everywhere at midnight…also my 6th STUDIO ALBUM DROPPING SUMMER 2020!!! Lucky number 6 soon fwd”

-Drake, via Instagram

If there’s one thing that many artists have familiarized themselves with in the rap industry, would be music leaks. Some way and somehow, hackers get their hands on tons of unreleased material from lots of our favorite artists each and every day. While it is not at the best of interest of the artist having their music leak, the fans will always enjoy it. There is a large community of music fans that take joy in seeking out unreleased material and sharing it with other people. Artists such as Playboi Carti, Uzi, and even the late-great Juice WRLD have all had lots of their music leak in the past, and the fans are all here for it. Although this happens to many artists, there are some who’s music never leaks–one of those artists being Drake.

Besides all that has been going on in the world the past few months, one of the things we can depend on is enjoying new music. The pandemic definitely has shaken up not only the world, but the music industry as well. While some artists are able to release their music freely and still reap those benefits, others release their music with a bit more calculation-that being music video shoots, press runs, interviews and all. Drake being the mega star that he is, he normally does not release an album without some pre-meditated plans and a full schedule ahead. That being said, he decided to release a collection of music for us to enjoy during this quarantine titled Dark Lane Demo Tapes.

Before the Project

We all know what Drake is capable of by now. Having been active for a little over ten years, he has managed to stay on top of the rap game for every single year he has been active. That being said, he usually moves with a little bit more secrecy in regard to when and how he releases his music. Before now, we normally have not seen too much of his music ever leaking or being released prematurely before a major album or single announcement. In 2019, Drake released a project titled Care Package which was an album full of old material, but they were not leaks. These were all songs that had been released by Drake himself that were loosies, songs that aren’t singles but aren’t album cuts either. For his entire career, Drake had been an early advocate of feeding the fans with new music, regardless of if it was for a project or not. Even in recent years, despite his music never leaking, he is always making sure that his voice is heard on someone else’s album or single.

This year is when things started to take a change when Drake leaks started floating around on the timeline. One of those early leaks would be “Desires” feat. Future. Because this came shortly after the release of their joint single “Life Is Good”, no one really thought it was a Drake leak. Many fans believed that it was a leak from the rumored project What A Time To Be Alive 2 that Drake and Future were working on. As secretive as they are, that could still very well be the case. However, it’s not every day that a Drake leak comes out before it is intended to. That being said, Drake decided to release the song in its entirety but only on SoundCloud and titled it “DESIRES LEAK 2020”.

After that, yet ANOTHER leak appeared on the timeline-this time, a solo Drake song titled “When to Say When”. A mysterious video with no sound had surfaced of Drake rapping in front of the Marcy Housing building in New York. Little did we know, it would be the visual for the leak we heard around the same time. The talk on the net was that Drake found out that the song leaked online, so he decided to shoot a visual for the song and “leak” it himself. While this was not confirmed by Drake or anyone on his team yet, but it does make the most sense. Making the best of his music leaking, why not shoot a visual to accompany the song as well. While we all sit around awaiting his full-length album, Dark Lane Demo Tapes serves as not only the appetizer for the main project, but a preview for what to expect on the album which is currently slated to drop Summer 2020.

Demo tape, mixtape, leak album? No matter what we want to call it, Drake starts things off on the right foot. The project starts off with a simply produced track, featuring a looped sample and straight bars titled “Deep Pockets”. In usual Drake fashion, the intro serves as a track for him to just rap and let off whatever comes to mind. Most of the time its bars about his past, his present and his future. Sequencing has always been a key factor for Drake, which is why he placed the tracks we most recently heard at the top of the projects. “When to Say When” and “Chicago Freestyle” make some early appearances here, this time with a little more polish to the mixing and mastering for the official streaming release.

“Desires” with Future finds a home here on the project as well, despite the confusion about whether or not this would make it on the Drake and Future album or not. However, on Spotify, the song says “with Future” rather than “feat. Future”. Normally when this is done, it implies that the song will be featured on another project. It’s safe to assume that this song could potentially be used at some point on a project in the Future. Whether that be the Drake and Future album or Futures upcoming solo album. Another song that deserves a bit of recognition is “Not You Too” feat Chris Brown. On this song, Drake sings about a woman who lets him down, even though he did not expect it. Hence the name, he concludes that the girl ended up just like the other women from his past.

While many of the songs on this project were released already, there are still plenty of big moments to enjoy on here. “Time Flies” produced by frequent collaborator Oz, Drake croons over a steady hi-hat and a soft synth about a specific love interest that may be a part of his past. In the song, he reflects on his busy life and how he needs to make time for those closest to him. No matter what, Drake always finds a way to make the song as catchy as possible, while still keeping it at an introspective level. By far, one of the best songs on the project would be “Losses”. On this track, Drake collaborates again with Oz and Foreign Tech on the beat. The song follows the story about another relationship of his that has gone sour. Some of the lines seem to be very specific like “I took you up under my wing and you just stayed there. You was supposed to grow some wings, get your own pair”. While we aren’t 100% sure who the woman is (when are we ever?) Drake still manages to make the song bleed pure emotion and reality, as he ends each verse with “I’m not tryna make no song, these are cold facts”.

Drake has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to familiarizing himself with what’s to come next. His track record has been amazing up to this point with him discovering The Weeknd at such an early time, and shining light on underrated artists such as Lil Baby, Blocboy JB, and Baby Keep. Hence that, Drake managed to hop on two UK/Grime type beats to end off the project on the right foot. While we heard the song “War” months ago, this still makes an appearance here at the tale end of the project. On “Demons”, Drake links up with Five Foreign and Sosa Geek over another drill beat. He fits in perfectly with the sound, and Fivio and Sosa follow up with tow stellar verses as well. It’s a shame that we weren’t able to hear a Pop Smoke and Drake collaborates, but hopefully there is one in the tuck somewhere.

Putting out an entire project full of leaks is not something that I would advise all artists to do. It definitely takes certain artists of a certain caliber of craft and creativity to release a project this way. Flooding the market with a bunch of ideas and unfinished songs is not something that fans will enjoy in the long run. In the case for Drake, Dark Lane Demo Tapes does not sound like that at all. When coming up with a final track list for the album, there will be tons of songs that don’t make the cut. Whether that be they just don’t fit with the vibe, or they just aren’t good enough to stack up to the final cut. The artists who deliver one project a year or even every two years can benefit from releasing a project this way. It’s an amazing way to generate buzz and hype for what’s to come. However, the project that follows HAS to be nothing less than amazing. It’ can be safe to assume that Drake is going to deliver possibly one of the best projects of his career come summer 2020. We are no stranger to the events that took place in his life over the past few years, so we know that all of that will be used as ammunition to come out of the gate swinging on his new album once it drops very soon.