“This shit sound like what being rich feel like,” Drake mumbles at the start of “My Side,” one of the added tracks on this week’s physical release of his record-smashing mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.” “This shit,” an ambling and abstract beat from Boi-1da and Syke Sense, isn’t a huge departure from other brooding tracks on the tape. The simplicity of the track, however, lends it a meditative tone that isn’t as present on the mixtape’s stylistically similar “Madonna” and “Company.” While “My Side” is less kinetic than its counterparts, then, it is also more affecting. The track necessarily softens the bravado of Drake’s recent sound and offers a potential glimpse of a pared-down approach for the rapper’s upcoming album, “Views From the 6.”
“My Side” reflects a morose, high-society Drake more than the drunken, stripper-obsessed Drake. The MC croons about his lover’s “New York condo” and how he’s “too busy for a wedding or a kid.” In the least focused moment of the otherwise succinct hook, Drake discusses the semantics of “wasting our relationship on a relationship,” which possibly refers to the exhaustion of exclusivity. As usual, it’s hard to say. As his career has progressed, Drake has relied more on impressionist snapshots of his flings rather than plot-based narratives. The result of this lyrical simplification can lead to eye-rolling redundancies—the number of disparate, often contradictory issues that Drake has with women on “If You’re Reading This Its Too Late” make it difficult to imagine what wouldn’t get him down.
Despite moments on “My Side” where Drake’s vagueness begets this self-indulgence, the sparseness of the single verse and dissonant backing make it feel more authentic and unified than much of the fun but scattered fare on the digital mixtape. The beats aren’t going to be the deciding critical factor on Drake’s next album, however—the production on “My Side” is exceptional in its lack of explicit structure, but not dramatically different from the ambient OVO “sound” that Drake’s producers have perfected. Instead, it is Drake’s presentation of self and romance that needs to evolve. “My Side,” with its taut images and consistent focus on the issues in the relationship, is an encouraging step forward.