After a summer of teasing, various delays, dozens of arena concerts and eventually another No. 1 single, the rapper Drake released his fourth album in barely two years on Friday morning, ahead of a tour-ending, two-night run of shows in his hometown, Toronto.
“For All the Dogs,” Drake’s eighth solo studio album, not counting those he considers mixtapes, includes 23 tracks and features past collaborators like J. Cole, 21 Savage, Lil Yachty, SZA and the Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny, plus artists from the hip-hop vanguard like Chief Keef, Yeat, Teezo Touchdown and Sexyy Red.
The credits also list a role for Kevin Durant, the Phoenix Suns basketball player, who is given the title of A&R on “For All the Dogs,” a role that, in the modern music business, refers to a collaborator who helps to organize an album. Tracks include “Bahamas Promises,” “What Would Pluto Do,” “7969 Santa” and “Virginia Beach,” a song that immediately raised eyebrows because it is named for the hometown of Drake’s longtime rap rival, Pusha-T.
The album was released at the unorthodox hour of 6 a.m. Eastern time on Friday, breaking from the industry standard. “Sorry to all my streamers,” Drake wrote on Instagram in his announcement, a reference to the fact that new albums are typically released to services like Spotify and Apple Music at midnight.
It was the latest — and shortest — delay for a long-expected album. Drake, a perpetual chart-topper who prides himself on relentless productivity, began promising a new release even before the opening of his “It’s All A Blur” arena tour, which debuted in July, and he provided updates on his recording progress most nights onstage.
“For All the Dogs” had previously been scheduled for release on Sept. 22, but fan anticipation stretched back further, to the beginning of summer.
Drake first teased the album in June, with the surprise announcement of a book of poetry via full page newspaper advertisements in major publications. The ads and the book, “Titles Ruin Everything,” written with Kenza Samir, contained a QR code atop an image of two puppies that linked to a website revealing the existence of new music.
It did not include a release date, but did come with a cheeky Drake lyric from “Headlines,” a song released in 2011: “They say they miss the old Drake, girl, don’t tempt me.”
On Thursday, he called the new album “one of my best ever,” marking the release of the video for “8am in Charlotte,” the latest in his long-running time stamp series, which co-stars his young son, Adonis. The child also contributed the scrawled rendering of a goat — not a dog, according to the artist — that serves as the “For All the Dogs” album cover.
The album was preceded earlier by the release of the singles “Search & Rescue,” which reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April (but is not included on “For All the Dogs”), and “Slime You Out,” featuring SZA, which debuted at No. 1 last month, marking Drake’s 12th chart-topping song. That achievement tied him with Madonna and the Supremes for the fifth-most No. 1s of all time, Billboard said.
This year, Drake has also appeared on tracks by the rappers J Hus, Central Cee, Young Thug and Travis Scott.
Drake has 12 Billboard No. 1 albums in all, including two from last year — the dance music-inspired “Honestly, Nevermind,” released in June, and the more rap-focused “Her Loss,” with 21 Savage, from November.
The “It’s All a Blur” tour, which also features 21 Savage, concludes on Friday and Saturday, at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. With more than 50 arena dates, Drake’s tour was one of many by music’s biggest stars this summer in which intense post-pandemic demand and ticket competition led to high prices, jarring some fans.