10 years later, Drake’s classic deserves its proper praise.
For my How I Met Your Mother fans, we all know Barney Stinson opted to turn Valentine’s Day Eve into Desperation Day, where single folk quickly scramble to find someone to keep them company for the beloved holiday that would strike at midnight. Barney is hands down one of my favorite television characters of all-time, but I’ve gotta stand against him here. I propose we rename February 13th to “So Far Gone Day” or some better title. Happily taking submissions on that.
On that day, 10 years ago, the game changed as a mixed boy from Toronto delivered one of the most impactful Hip-Hop mixtapes we have ever heard in So Far Gone. Of course 6 years later Drake gave us If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late but my loyal readers know I’ve already written about that. As impactful as that was, this 2009 tape deserves its time.
The blog era we so often reflect on fondly was headlined by Drizzy, J. Cole, Kid Cudi, Wale, Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller and Curren$y among others. Fans would flood Datpiff, Limewire, or Google looking for websites they could download these artists’ work. It made the experience of discovering music all the more gratifying when you finally found that link and adjusted the title, artist name and album title in your iTunes library. Thus, when people came across SFG in 2009 and saw names like Lil Wayne, Bun B, Trey Songz, and Omarion it was clear this was something special. Special was an understatement.
I’d hardly say Aubrey was plucked from obscurity, having a successful career on television starring as Jimmy Brooks in Degrassi. Though famous for getting shot in the back and returning to school as Wheelchair Jimmy, toward the end of his time on the show he began showing his rapper chops.
Of course, no one knew whether he was writing these himself or someone on the show was feeding him bars, but he certainly performed them well. I guess in retrospect, for the haters, that could be foreshadowing what occurred in Summer 2015 and the ghostwriting drama but we aren’t getting into negativity so soon after Drake Day! Still not a cool enough name? Ok…
Anyways, So Far Gone. The version a lot of us fell in love with was 18 songs long. Sadly, those late to his music and were looking to peep game were only able to find a truncated, seven-song version on major streaming services. That is, until midnight on February 15th. Though Soundcloud and Google most certainly could hold you down if you want to go that route. It’s the full version that’s the true entree. Nostalgic as the former iteration on streaming services was, it was merely a tasting.
Where do I start? I really don’t know, there are 18 songs of gold here. Is it the introspection and foreshadowing on “Lust For Life” that gets you? Or is that the sympathy you can’t help but feel for the subject in “Houstatlantavegas?” The underwater feeling of “Bria’s Interlude?” The yearning falsetto of “A Night Off?” The southern twang in “Uptown” and “November 18th?” I can really make a short yet impactful statement about any of these songs, as can other fans or listeners even if they might prefer a specific sound from him. That’s the one consistent point of Drake’s career that is often dismissed.
He is very good at making a collection of songs that people can pick and choose from. Everything might not be for everybody, but there is something for everybody. This wasn’t his first buffet of music, but definitely the best one of his career to this point. Though many don’t like to give Drake the credit he deserves for influencing a generation, so many of the rappers we enjoy together were listening to this mixtape like us 10 years ago and decided it was time they got into the game. It makes sense.
Though he’s a larger than life figure now, at his core Drake is a casual, quirky guy with talent. He’s not more stylish, street smart, or smoother than the average fellow. Yet his work ethic got him to where he was, but he maintained a level of vulnerability in his content that many young artists shy away from once they think they’ve made it big. He made it so that any of us felt we could make it, whether having the Canadian actor platform to fall back on or not. And despite complaints of singing too much for someone who is aspiring to be a rapper, many can’t deny how hard some of his emotional cuts hit them.
This project was actually able to live with us for some time too, as streaming wasn’t a thing and big releases weren’t happening on a weekly basis. Beyond that, it still comes up in conversation to this day. It’s ranked in Drake’s discography despite being a mixtape, given the amount of original content and the album feeling to it.
It foreshadowed the versatility and adaptability we’d come to know throughout the duration of his career. Most of all, it was real. It wasn’t just a full-on heartbroken dude or a player without a care in the world. He displayed himself as the hybrid of those he truly is, a level of duality many of us can identify with.
No Hook Drizzy. Singing Drizzy. Southern Drizzy. Pop Drizzy. Strengthened every year, but really birthed here. The re-release was genius, and I definitely noticed certain songs were cleaned up. How does something 10 years old feel perfectly appropriate for today? That’s a phenomenon with Drake I’ve always been amazed by. His music always feels relevant, even if relating to specific situations happening solely during the time he released it.
Impact. Drake’s impact will never be fairly denied, and this was just the start. So Far Gone shall live on forever. Not just because it was good music and us Drake stans always take about it, but the sheer impact it had on other artists, journalists, and athletes alike. It humbles us while simultaneously empowering us to pursue everything people told us we couldn’t have. Thank you, Drake.