Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Album Review: Drake - Take Care

Album Rating: A
Toronto’s very own Drake may have rushed his debut Thank Me Later, but sophomore effort Take Care finds Drake hitting his stride. The daring 17-track 80-minute behemoth is as enticing and mysterious as it is lengthy. Rarely do I enjoy every song on an 17-track effort, and even more rarely am I somehow convinced that I share emotional struggles with an international icon worth millions. Drake is at his best on Take Care, his most significant release to date and one of the best releases of the year.

Drizzy’s lyrics on Take Care are distant and introspective. For a man of such vast success, Drake almost convinces you to feel bad for him. The driving theme of most of the album can be summarized by his line in “Headlines”, “I guess it really is just me, myself, and all my millions.” His career has landed him the power to get anything he wants, but since he got everything, he just feels alone. In the album closer, Drake opens “I hate when people say they feel me… You won’t feel me till everybody say they love you but it’s not love.” Drake has difficulty finding meaningful relationships. The list of people who appreciate him even without his affluence is short, and the list of people who can actually relate to him is even shorter. Even though he says that “these days women give it to [him] like they owe [him] one,” he’s just looking for something real. Guess the grass really is always greener on the other side.

Though a good portion of the album is Drake working out his problems with fame, Drake also finds time to cover other issues. He nods his head to family on “Look What You’ve Done,” reflecting on difficult times of family tension and financial struggles he had before he blew up. Though it’s all gone and in the past, he still appreciates everyone who was there for him. “HYFR” is specifically for those hating and questioning Drake. Though he sprinkles in snide insults to his haters throughout the album, “HYFR” specifically addresses them. The first verse finds Drake going through his usual fare, intentionally descriptive yet insignificant. Then Lil Wayne drops the hook with shocking depth and significance for Mr. Carter. He asks Drake a number of questions about whether he likes what he’s doing, whether he really likes his girl, if he ever gets nervous, and whether he thinks his crew is with him because of who he is or because of his power. Even though Drake would like to act like those questioning him don’t matter, him taking shots at the haters validates them, so Drake is saying that yes, these questions do in fact keep him up at night. But, Wayne answers the questions with confidence, “And I’m like hell yeah, fucking right.” Wayne and Drake are really confident in themselves and can respond without hesitation to such doubt.

The features on the album come to greatly benefit Take Care. While rarely outshined by his YMCMB peers, nearly every feature is beneficial to their respective tracks. The Weeknd, a Toronto native who Drake has recently pushed to great success, is featured on the hook of “Crew Love,” making it one of the strongest tracks on the record. Rihanna does a beautiful job with the hook of the title track. Birdman is humorously listed as a feature on “We’ll Be Fine.” He makes his mark after the last hook and all he does is talk shit. Very amusing Birdman. Nicki Minaj shows up on “Make Me Proud” and unsurprisingly adds a cluttered verse of little value. Rick Ross is on stand out “Lord Knows.” Though his verse is just typical fare for the boss, the vibe of the track fits perfectly. Wayne and Andre 3000 are on “The Real Her,” and though Wayne’s verse is quite forgettable, Andre 3000 is original, emotional, and very entertaining, making for one of the highlights of the album.

Drake may only be outshined on his own album by his producers. The production of Take Care is truly impressive. While Drake’s wallet might not be able to buy him love, it definitely can pay for some of the best producers in the game. Each track is artfully crafted to be moody and distinctly Drake. The big tracks are huge yet maintain enough identity to flow perfectly with the atmospheric seven minute interludes. This is likely due to the fact that Drake gave the reins to Noah “40” Shebib, who had influence over the production of nearly every track. The unifying theme is present in every moment of the album, yet enough deviation is present that at the end of the 80 minute epic, nearly every track is distinct. Though Drake surely did a fantastic job on his end, Take Care would not be what it is without such noteworthy production.

Take Care is an incredibly appealing work dealing with surprisingly relatable struggles. Drake’s lyrics have many layers and are certainly up for interpretation. Dark, pensive, and preoccupied, he still has enough swagger that nobody is even in a position to question him. Each song is worthy of its own review, a sure sign that an 17 track effort truly deserves to go platinum.

Track List:

01. Over My Dead Body
02. Shot For Me
03. Headlines
04. Crew Love (Feat. The Weeknd)
05. Take Care (Feat. Rihanna)
06. Marvins Room – Buried Alive (Interlude)
07. Underground Kings
08. We’ll Be Fine (Feat. Birdman)
09. Make Me Proud (Feat. Nicki Minaj)
10. Lord Knows (Feat. Rick Ross)
11. Cameras
12. Doing It Wrong
13. The Real Her (Feat. Andre 3000 & Lil Wayne)
14. HYFR (Feat. Lil Wayne)
15. Look What You’ve Done
16. Practice
17. The Ride

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