Dark Lane Demo Tapes: A Review of Drake’s New Mixtape

Aaron Phogat, Online News Editor

Drake’s musical dominance during the past decade has been undeniable; his consistent chart-topping singles, 400+ consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, and highly anticipated albums paired with his booming features on songs with the likes of BlocBoy JB, The Weeknd, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Future prove that he was easily the best artist of the 2010s. 

Drake carried this energy into the new decade, starting 2020 with a bang after tracks such as “Pain 1993” (ft. Playboi Carti) and “Desires” (ft. Future) were leaked on SoundCloud. Quickly seeing the potential, Drake decided to release a minimally-advertised mixtape, mostly consisting of his newer, unreleased tracks: Dark Lane Demo Tapes. This mixtape compiles features from Giveon, Chris Brown, Future, Young Thug, Playboi Carti, Fivio Foreign, and Sosa Geek to create a classic Drake feel: fast rap songs such as “D4L” combined with slower, melodic songs like “Not You Too” (ft. Chris Brown). Drake also continues to explore different emerging sub-genres of hip hop on Dark Lane Demo Tapes, adding UK and NYC Drill songs to his already-extensive and comprehensive scene.  

As with every album, there were certain complaints surrounding Dark Lane Demo Tapes, perhaps the most overwhelmingly common of which being Playboi Carti’s verse on “Pain 1993.” The original leak had Drake rhyming over a Pi’erre Bourne beat with Playboi Carti adding a solid, appealing Die Lit-esque verse. However, when the song was officially released, fans were dismayed to see that the original Playboi Carti verse was replaced with Carti rapping a ludicrous-sounding baby-voice verse. As “Pain 1993” was the most anticipated song of Dark Lane Demo Tapes, fans took to social media to show their dislike of the lead song being surprisingly underwhelming. 

Music reviewers additionally have claimed that Drake released the mixtape specifically as a “Demo Tape” to lower fans’ expectations so that it could sell better. Although we may never know his true motivation behind the mixtape’s name, it is certainly not inaccurate; at the end of the day, all of the songs on the album are, in fact, demos and more current versions of leaks. As confirmed by several sources and Drake himself, Dark Lane Demo Tapes is a sort of “warm up” for Drake’s sixth upcoming studio album expected to release in the summer of 2020. Despite such complaints, though, a large majority of reviews and fans praised the album for its diversity and consistent delivery. 

All in all, Dark Lane Demo Tapes was certainly and statistically a hit, with songs such as “Toosie Slide” debuting at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the mixtape itself debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200 in America and topping the UK, Australia, Canada, Estonia, the Netherlands, Ireland, Lithuania, and New Zealand charts.