Label: OVO/Republic Records
Released: May 1

Dark Lane Demo Tapes is a warmup. Hours before releasing the 14-song project, Drake urged everyone not to think of it as an album. “My brothers Oliver El Khatib and OVO Noel put together a lot of the songs people have been asking for (some leaks and some joints from SoundCloud and some new vibes),” he wrote on Instagram. Just like that, he lowered the stakes and gave himself a chance to share some ideas that wouldn’t have made sense on a proper album. We hear Drake playing around with SoundCloud-era sounds (“From Florida With Love,” “Pain 1993”), drill (“Demons,” “War”), introspective raps (“Losses,” “Chicago Freestyle”), and dance records (“Toosie Slide”) on the same project. There’s no cohesion here and no obvious summer anthem, but there doesn’t need to be. This is Mixtape Drake, throwing songs at a wall and seeing what sticks. What he ended up with was another No. 1 hit (“Toosie”), hundreds of millions of streams, and a handful of standout gems that’ll hold us over until his self-proclaimed “lucky number” sixth studio album drops. Not bad for an appetizer. —Eric Skelton