So Far Gone is an album in mixtape’s clothing. It’s so far ahead of its time that the influence can still be seen in upcoming artists a decade later. Not just sonically, but the way artists package their mixtapes today vs the “Freestyle” tape era. From people having “Houstatlantavegas” in their bio, calling themselves the new 11, and giving new life to “Say What’s Real,” Drake changed music and the culture for the better.
The good people at Def Pen decided to chop it up about a few of our favorite moments from this era, specifically the ‘arrival’ of Drake with So Far Gone. Check it out!
Age When SFG Dropped: 21
First Impression: My first impression of this tape was that its perfection. Complete. The right amount of melodies, high-level rapping with original bars that made you hit rewind. Very specific features let me know he had a plan and his music mind was next level.
Favorite Song: “A Little Bit”
Most Memorable Moment From that Era: What I remember most from that era….let’s see…I was in a relationship that had me on a rollercoaster of emotions. Music had always been my salvation and artists who weren’t afraid of being vulnerable had a special place in my rotation.
Introduction to Drake: My first thought on Drake overall was, “a Canadian actor who also sings is supposed to be a great…rapper? Ok, sure.” One of my homegirls at the time loved him so I decided to give his music a chance when she suggested his previous tapes first, and nothing was the same. Fast forward to So Far Gone, it sounded like what we hoped every Rap/R&B collaboration album would sound like, and it was one person doing most of the leg work. Nobody could predict the level of dominance he’d go on to reach, but that whole tape felt big and I knew he was here to stay.
If You Could Add Any Song From SFG To Any One Of His Later Albums, What Would It Be?: If I could put any song from So Far Gone on any one of his other albums it would have to be “Unstoppable” on Thank Me Later. It’s another Wade to Bron alley-oop between Wayne and Drake that would’ve served as a great appetizer on his debut.
View this post on Instagram
Age When SFG Dropped: 17
First Impression: Interestingly enough, So Far Gone was one of the few projects that released in early 2009 that gave me a break from constantly spinning Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak. Upon my first few listens, the project felt like a breath of fresh air and Drake was in a pocket that was uniquely his own. He didn’t remind me of anyone else at the time. I vividly remember listening to it and acknowledging that Drake could be pretty big in the industry if he played his cards right. So Far Gone played a pivotal role as I was wrapping up my senior of high school and headed to college. It served as a soundtrack to the next phase of my life during my wild freshman year of college alongside plenty of other now-classic mixtapes that dropped that year.
Favorite Song: I’m a walking, talking, breathing Kanye stan account, so “Say What’s Real” was my instant favorite in 2009 and remains my favorite all these years later.
Most Memorable Moment From that Era: My most memorable moment easily comes with Drake performing at the Love Night Club in Washington D.C. just a few months after So Far Gone dropped. I had a relative that used to work at the venue during that time, who helped my friends and I escape the huge hassle of getting in due to the long line and age restriction. What a time to be alive.
Introduction to Drake: My sister is a huge fan of Dwele and also a fellow music-obsessor like myself. At the time, I didn’t know the song was “Don’t U Have A Man,” but she would have that song on repeat in her car, at home, anywhere. After a while, I grew to love the song and discovered that it was from Comeback Season. The rest is history.
If You Could Add Any Song From SFG To Any One Of His Later Albums, What Would It Be?: Everything about “A Night Off” sounds like it belongs on Take Care.
Bonus: P.S. Lloyd did what had to be done on that track.
Age When SFG Dropped:17
First Impression: When SFG dropped, my first impression was, “wow this is deep.” This was a time in my life when I began to relate to the music I chose, directly to my life. And Drake was there, right on time.
Favorite Song: I sat on this all weekend and I’m unable to choose between “November 18th” and “Say What’s Real.”
Most Memorable Moment From that Era: The entire “mixtape era” represents a pivotal moment in my life, as I was transitioning from adolescence to what I thought was adulthood. My most memorable moment during the time of SFG’s initial release isn’t even my memory (LOL). One of my college roommates came back to our dorm super excited because a guy she was talking to sent her “Houstatlantavegas” and said it reminded him of her. When the rest of us told her it was about strippers, she was less excited.
Introduction to Drake: My introduction to Drake is kind of fuzzy. I frequented music blogs and mixtape websites, and I’m sure one of them put me on.
If You Could Add Any Song From SFG To Any One Of His Later Albums, What Would It Be?: Dare I say, put “Brand New” on Take Care.
Age When SFG Dropped: I was a thirteen-year-old seventh grader living in northern New Jersey with my Mom and Step-Dad.
First Impression: I was introduced to Drake during the end of the MySpace era when he dropped the “Replacement Girl” video with Trey Songz. At the time, it was just a song that I thought was cool. I was more into Kid Cudi, Big Sean, and Wale at the time, so I took him for granted until So Far Gone dropped.
Favorite Song: “Little Bit” is often skipped, but I think that song set the groundwork and sound for Drake to work with artists like Roy Woods, Majiid Jordan, etc.
Most Memorable Moment From that Era: There are a handful of times I remember where I was when I first heard an artist’s music. I remember being in the locker room, getting ready for football practice and hearing J. Cole’s Friday Night Lights. I remember being in 6th period and hearing Kid Cudi’s “Day N’ Nite” for the first time.
Introduction to Drake: When I first heard the So Far Gone tape, I was in the car with my older brother. He was a freshman at Morehouse College and he had come home for spring break. While we were on our way to get some food, he took out his iPod and told me to listen to it. From there, I’ll never forget hearing the first verse to “Congratulations.” To this day, I know that first verse word for word.
If You Could Add Any Song From SFG To Any One Of His Later Albums, What Would It Be?: This is a hard question to answer because I think all of Drake’s albums have way too many tracks and they are poorly sequenced. With that being said, I would insert “Uptown” in between “Underground Kings” and “We’ll Be Fine” on Take Care.
View this post on Instagram
11 years ago I met this guy Drake at the Beverly Center and had heard about him via MySpace. We would hang out and I’d bring him and @ovo40 bags of that good Cali kush while they played me songs off of #SoFarGone I knew off top that this mixtape was gonna be something real special. Beyond anything I’ve heard in a long time… I’d spend hours and nights in the studio. aka the Beverly Wilshire hotel ? and in all my life and music career, I had never heard or experienced an album being recorded inside a hotel room until then. And 40 blew me away with So Far Gone songs. When it was closer to completion I’d pick the (OVO) guys up and take them around town while we listened to #SoFarGone. I’ll never forget any of this as I mentioned this shit was ??????????????????. I began to promote it on my blog which at the time was pretty popular as well as my myspace page and then the legendary drive from Beverly Hills to the South Central happened Drizzy Drake Rogers aka The Boy aka @champagnepapi actually visited the world famous Slauson Swapmeet! I’ll never forget your first show at Cal State LA with @ryanleslie and then later doing shows promoting So Far Gone (the last video is in Houston where I knew you were about to blow the fuck up because you filled up an entire big car dealership, not a club or concert hall with fans from a different city who wanted to see you.) Skip to today 10 years later you’re the biggest superstar on the planet and I’m honored to have had a front row seat and been a tiny part of it. God bless fam. L’chaim and Mazel Tov and Happy 10 Year Anniversary to SFG ??
Age When SFG Dropped: I was 14. A freshman in high school in Toronto and Drake played in every single one of my school dances. He seriously had the whole city on a wave.
First Impression: I had first heard Drake when he featured on “Still Fly” with Toronto rapper, Page. After that, he linked up with Lil Wayne, who was (and is) one my favorite rappers ever, and then So Far Gone was set to drop. All of Toronto was anticipating it. It was like there was an energy in the city– a buzz.
Most Memorable Moment From That Era: I remember the day “Best I Ever Had” dropped in the city very vividly. It was one of those songs you heard and thought to yourself, “you won’t be able to go anywhere without hearing this song at least once…every hour.” In the same way, that’s how people viewed Drake. They couldn’t get enough of him. The people of Toronto have always had this “underdog mentality” and for his debut album, Drake brings out LeBron and Diddy to the listening party. We were on a high for a while about that. The album and the year that Drake was a catalyst for, changed the way people around the world thought of the city. We started to believe in ourselves.
Favorite Song: There are too many options but I’d probably pick “Say What’s Real.” Kanye had just debuted the beat like eight months before and Drake added his own spin to it, which was what really helped him stand out. But also, I remember hearing the church organs on “Uptown” and having an eargasm.
Introduction to Drake: I was blessed to be introduced to Drake and J.Cole at around the same time. In ’09 a friend of mine showed me The Warm Up. I instantly became a fan. Cole brought a truth to his music that I truly had never seen before. In a way, Drizzy did the same thing. You either loved him… or you hated him, and he didn’t care. The biggest appeal of Drake, at least at the beginning, was that the girls loved him and guys hated him and that was the biggest conversation starter for Hip-Hop fans.
If You Could Add Any Song From SFG To Any One Of His Later Albums, What Would It Be?: I want you all to listen to “Let’s Call It Off” and try to picture it as a More Life/ Scorpion throwaway. I think back then, Drake came on a little too strong for Hip-Hop fans with that song. They were not as accepting. But now? That song would be on the radio everywhere.
Bonus: “Say What’s Real” would also be a great outro to any of his albums really.
Stream all of our favorite tracks from So Far Gone down below!