|Bottom sixes and chains / and some bracelets and rings / all of the little accents that make me king|
4 out of 5
Toronto's golden boy's still Midas
This sophomore album is a powerful hip hop/R&B hybrid that sounds very Drake, but thankfully not as boring as his debut Thank Me Later. Separating the songs into two distinct camps allowed Drake to create better-crafted, focused songs that more importantly, spared us from the droning, slot-tempo messes that plagued the first album. An emotionally transparent album that travels through the rapper's many sides from his bravado to his self-depreciation, Take Care is certainly a fascinating whirlwind journey into Drake's conflicting psyche. Cool slow jams too.
The album can be understood as three different sections:
The first section consists of tracks 1-7: Over My Dead Body - Buried Alive Interlude. The CD begins with the simple but moving 'Over My Dead Body,' a beautiful song but unfortunately positioned - I never like starting a CD with a slow song. This section is full of great songs like the lead single 'Headlines,' the title track 'Take Care,' and the sonically-superior 'Crew Love.' The closing high-hat + bass drum sound is one of the best SOUNDS I've ever heard and will definitely incorporate it in my own music, it just is so mesmerizing. This section ends with 'Buried Alive Interlude,' a song that perfectly encapsulates the record. Over a somber beat, guest rapper Kendrick Lamar talks about his jealousy for Drake and all his successes: "I don't call back just blame it on your Canadian." Not every rapper would let a rival badmouth himself on his own record, but this is no ordinary record.
The second section consists of tracks 8-11: Underground Kings - Lord Knows. 'Underground Kings' shows just how good Drake can be and that he deserves to be in the rap game. Without slowing down he rips through the song spitting lyrics full of bravado and splendor and he continues that energy through the next few tracks, rapping alongside hip hop's current bigwigs Birdman, Nicki Minaj, and the almighty Rick Ross.
More "gangster" rappers have made fun of Drake saying he only makes songs for the ladies. Ghostface Killah hilariously called him out in his article Top 10 Softest Rappers in the Game issuing Drake spots 1 through 3:
Ayo thats right the 3 ply softness nigga took up all the top spots nahmean. I aint even got to tell you how the god be feelin bout this nigga. But I wish the nigga success n long as he stay out a nigga way he aint gon get thrown thru no brick walls or nothin like that. Hopefully the nigga stop droppin vagina bombs on niggas n start rappin like a dude tho nahmean.
Hopefully, the songs found in this section prove to the world he can actually "start rappin like a dude."
The third section consists of tracks 12-18: Camera/Good Ones Go Interlude - The Ride. Here the album slows down again to bring back the downtempo ambient tracks and 90's R&B style jams. Although not the best singer, you can definitely hear he puts its heart on his album sleeve when listening to his R&B songs. Alongside Stevie Wonder's harmonica on the song 'Doing It Wrong' Drake tries to be real as ever stating: "we live in a generation of not being in love." Except for the exceptionally fun 'HYFR (Hell Ya F*ckin' Right)' which features his label mate Lil' Wayne, this last section is the album's cool down where after all the bravado is drained, what's left is the emotional feelings within and that's the lasting impression Drake leaves on the record. Once again I'll say it, Drake can make some good R&B songs along as they're treated as R&B songs and not a slow, sparse beat to rap slowly on.
One of the stars here is the production behind Drake's songs. Toronto's own hip hop producers take the reigns here with T-Minus responsible over the more uptempo songs and 40 in charge of the slower grooves. 40 in fact was overseeing producer of the whole album so he made sure to keep that simple but atmospheric feel prevalent throughout the album. He accomplished this sound by only sticking to minimalistic combination of instruments: drums; a murky bass line; a keyboard; sometimes an unaltered sample (unlike Kanye's super-altered sampling); and reverb on EVERYTHING to give it a big-empty-space echo (maybe to accentuate Drake's loneliness).
It just is refreshing to hear something that wasn't an overproduced super-layered stadium tune from DJ Khaled, or something that wasn't really a dance song labelled as "hip hop" (I'm looking at you Will.i.am!). Drake just fits so well on the Toronto sound that the songs not produced by a Canadian sounds out of place on this album. Just Blaze's "Lord Knows" and Jamie xx's "Take Care" are great songs in their own right, it's just that they don't really fit the album.
In conclusion, this is a great, memorable album with catchy choruses, great flow, and oozing with real emotion. The album contained a lot of heavyweight guests but Drake always rose up and showed you that this is his album and his songs. Although I have an issue with the track order in the first section, and the album has just too many tracks (sidenote: an album should have only 10 to 12 tracks - but putting too much throwaway filler was always the problem of a rap album), this is still a very good album overall.
And now to conclude this Drake review, here are a bunch of cats who look like Drake.
'Underground Kings'Drake - Underground Kings by kidsmilez93
'Crew Love (feat The Weeknd)'
'Cameras / Good Ones Go Interlude'
'HYFR (Hell Ya F*cking Right) (feat Lil' Wayne)'Drake - HYFR (Feat. Lil Wayne) by modoodom