Toronto's Drake began his musical career with his 2008 mixtape So Far Gone and 2010 full-length debut Thank Me Later. Now the Toronto-repping, R&B/rap hybrid and Young Money Cash Money member has dropped his second studio album Take Care, the eagerly anticipated third chapter in his rap success story.
Take Care is a well-crafted package of Drake trademarks, featuring the usual Young Money suspects (Lil Wayne, Birdman and Nicki Minaj) with a few surprise guests like Stevie Wonder, André 3000 and Canada natives The Weeknd and Chantal Kreviazuk.
The album's first single “Headlines” has a hook that won’t quit (“they know, they know, they know”) and an opening verse that’s almost as catchy (“faded way too long/floating in and out of consciousness”). Exposing the darker side of Drake’s rise to fame, “Marvin's Room” is an almost too relatable tale of drunk-dialing, loneliness and what happens when you indulge and let a flashy lifestyle go to your head.
For those who were expecting more club bangers than slow jams, disappointment may be imminent. Nonetheless, the artist’s more sentimental (and, more than likely, female) fans will definitely appreciate the smooth vocals and sensitive story lines that Drizzy does best. Songs like “Shot For Me” and “Cameras/Good Ones Go” are prime examples of Drake’s dreamy voice laid over a synthesized melody with a soft but bumping baseline.
Just because Drake slows things down on Take Care doesn’t mean he goes completely soft. Album guest stars help counteract Drake's drama king effect by upping the hip-hop ante. Rap hard-hitter Rick Ross lends his less-than-modest talents to a perhaps unintentionally humorous, but still gangster verse in “Lord Knows,” where he brags about being the “only fat nigga in a sauna with Jews.” Lil Wayne has a similar butch-atizing effect in “HYFR” (“Hell Yeah Fucking Right”) where he lets loose a hook and verse in an intoxicating drawl that fits the song like a glove. Unfortunately not every shift of the spotlight has the same sparkling effect. Never before has an awkward silence felt more appropriate than in the seconds after Andre 3000’s verse in “The Real Her.” Both André 3000’s and Wayne’s verses sadly don’t complement the song, but instead create an uneasy imbalance between themselves and Drake’s style. This effect exaggerates suspicions that Drake’s Canadian roots still have the potential to be occasional drawbacks when his underground style creates a lost in translation effect — especially in his collaborations with veteran artists from the States.
This album is yet another testament to the fact that Drake is a ladies' man with a big heart who for some reason is still trying to hide behind a tough guy exterior. Popular radio singles like “Forever” and “4 My Town” aren’t true Drake, but mere hook-driven collaborations with real bad boys whose visions overpower our dear Aubrey who would probably rather be making a pseudo-R&B serenade for an old fling. You know, like in “Best I Ever Had,” or “Fancy,” or “Find Your Love,” or “Houstanlantavegas,” or “Make Me Proud,” or…well, you get the point.
Basically, Drake, we love what you do. “We,” meaning us real people with real emotions. The few people left who still love real, live real and speak the truth no matter how much people might question our masculinity and belittle our street-cred. You may go all gangster-Hollywood on us eventually, but most of us aren’t looking forward to it.
Final Grade: A-