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From "Degrassi" to the streets

Drake, an actor turned rapper from the hit TV series "Degrassi," has brought his introspective swagger to the U.S. after releasing three mixtapes since 2006.

He has gained the respect of many entertainers and heavyweights in the rap and hip-hop industry with the re-release of his previously internet-only mixtape "So Far Gone."

Big names like Kanye, Lil' Wayne, and Young Jeezy are just a few of the artists featured on the album release as collaborators and producers.

The Canadian native released "So Far Gone," on Sept. 15. A meditative blend of hip-hop and soulful R&B, the album is reminiscent of Kanye West's "808s & Heartbreak" – relieving pain from a mysterious love lost.

"So Far Gone" only holds seven tracks due to the heavy rotation of leaked songs. The revamped project features most of the familiar tracks that have powered his rise, from the Trey Songz and Lil' Wayne-backed "Successful" to the catchy hit "Best I Ever Had."

A slow groove on the original mixtape, "Uptown," found its way onto the released album. Drake again collaborates with Lil' Wayne along with Young Jeezy on the track "Goin In."

With an upbeat tempo and Jeopardy parody theme song in the background, "Goin In" has the makings of a club jam. The track's hook is very catchy, and Drake delivers the best bars out of the trio.

The opening track, "Houstatlantavegas," sets the album's tempo. Drake uses narrative lyrics to tell a story rather than just singing a catchy chorus like on the hit single "Best I Ever Had."

In addition, a new recording, "Fear," has been included to the cut of the re-release. The never-before-heard song is tacked on to the end of "So Far Gone" and will serve as the transition to the anticipated album due for future release, "Thank Me Later." The last line of "Fear" will be the first line heard on his full debut.

Despite the "hip-hop is dead" hysterics emanating from some quarters of the competitive industry, Drake is part of a new generation bringing hope to the art form's future.

What really sets Drake apart from the huddled rapping masses is the impressive range of his talents.

Unlike the highly talented singer Trey Songz, who is a collaborator on "So Far Gone," Drake is more of a crossover artist; he can actually sing without robotic assistance. Although he made his big break in acting, his focus is now purely rap.

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Ultimately, "So Far Gone" doesn't match up to the original which carries more than seven selected songs. The transitions in the mixtape make sense, unlike the random selection of tracks Drake chose for his retail album. While Drake delivers every time, you might be disappointed if you've already heard the mixtape.

Toneisha Friday can be reached at


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