Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Progression of a Young Artist

Drake - Take Care Review 

By Rampage

I remember the first time my cousin asked me if I have ever heard of Drake in the summer of 2009. “Is he a rapper?” I asked. “Yeah, he used to be on Degrassi but he’s really good at rapping and he’s signed with Lil Wayne” she told me. I was a little skeptical of a rapper with Degrassi roots but I let her show me a song off of her iPod and I believe it was “Best I Ever Had” (before it was the most overplayed song of the year) and my first thought was this sounds good, who’s the guy singing though? When she told me it was Drake who was also singing I didn’t believe her and it was something new to me that someone who could flow with the confidence of a rapper could pull back and also show his vocals for a hit song. A song that would get him the mainstream buzz he needed to be taken seriously in the rap community.

I listened to So Far Gone and thought it was a great mixtape for its unique R&B with its share of rap verses, and it broke new ground when the same song my cousin had showed me that summer was nominated for two Grammy’s and was #2 on the Billboard charts. A year later, after rolling with the Young Money camp and some features his debut album Thank Me Later was released with the world waiting to see if he could maintain that buzz with a studio album. What came out was a solid album with unique production, effective features, memorable verses, different sounds and a display of his vocal ability which makes for catchy melodies. To this day I will always remember my friend bumping “Miss Me” and “Show Me a Good Time” on our way to school and I can recite the flows word for word. And while the album did have some flaws with cohesiveness it made Drake a household name and showed that he wasn’t a one-hit wonder. 

Now take a look back on the year since then and Drake’s buzz has been relatively quiet, aside from DJ Khaled's "I'm on One" which was mainly successful because of Drake's hook, some unreleased material and a couple of guest verses. But with so many new artists this year and the weight of the sophomore jinx lingering, fans anxiously awaited his new album Take Care, which was released November 15th after many delays and I believe it was worth the wait. 

The album opens with a down-tempo piano, the same way Thank Me Later did with “Fireworks”, and is backed by soft vocals from popular Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk. The opening lines, “I think I killed everybody in the game last year man, fuck it I was on though” (Over My Dead Body) reaffirm his impact in the past year and the track is an ode to his recent success and his status in hip hop. 
The album surrounds an overall sorrowful tone but that comes from Drake's honesty in his mixed feelings about success and past relationships. For example, "Shot for Me" tells of Drake's influence on an ex-girlfriend and how she'll leaving him because "he's the man" and how she'll never find another person like him. Something all guys can relate to when a girl leaves you. 

While on the drunk dial anthem "Marvin's Room" Drake is the one getting wasted at a bar and trying to get a late night booty call from a girl who is already in a relationship. His justification is "I'm just sayin', you could do better."
The album's two singles "Headlines" and "Proud of You" showcase Drake's ability to write hooks that you can sing along to. Also see "Take Care" where Drake and Rihanna take turns crooning about letting go of the past.  

The album has the usual Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross features but also showcases some new artists such as Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd and lets rap recluse Andre 3000 drop in for a guest verse. Each feature adds to the template of Take Care in a way that gives the album replay value also largely attributed to the production which was mostly done by Noah "40" Shebib and one of the best beats of the year by Just Blaze.   
My favorite tracks would have to be, "Lord Knows" because of the mastered production from Just Blaze and Drake comfortably spitting some of the best rap lines I've ever heard from him. "The Real Her" contains Andre 3000 bodying Wayne and Drake on the song but that's probably why Drake sang the whole time. "Under ground Kings" has almost the amount of hype that "Lord Knows" does, with Drake rapping "I'm the greatest, man I said that before I knew I was."  
There are people who will forever say Drake is soft and sings too much but overall, the 18 tracks on Take Care have something for everybody. For hip hop heads like myself "Lord Knows" and "Under Ground Kings" have bars that are undeniable. It has radio friendly tracks (Take Care, Headlines) it has regretful relationship tracks (Shot for Me, Doing it Wrong) and songs about his success and growth (We'll Be Fine). Not only that, but the production, subject matter and musicality all coincide pretty well; something that was lacking in Thank Me Later.

I could've done without "Make You Proud" and "HYFR" but Drake has progressed and it is something the fans, myself included, have been waiting for.  So as Drake raps on "Crew Love," "really I think I like who I'm becoming" I think the world would agree they do too.  

*Bonus Tracks: 
-The Motto  
-Hate Sleeping Alone

My Rating:

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