16 November 2011

Review: Drake, "Take Care"

Call him soft. Call him "emo." Call him anything that you want, but one thing that you can NOT call Drake is unsuccessful. The man has talent. He came into the game amidst a flurry of attention and, despite the public relations hiccups (being allegedly "dissed" by Rhianna and busting his leg, for starters), Drake has managed to stay relevant...hugely relevant this entire time.

People don't often speak on "Best I Ever Had" anymore, and with good reason. Drake has been on more mixtapes, songs and other rapper's albums than you can shake Nicki Minaj's ass at...and that's saying something. Drake has proven time and time again in the short while that he's been on the scene that he has a good thing going, and it shows in this latest offering, his sophomore album "Take Care.

It is neither a surprise nor a shock to anyone when Drake comes out the gate and he's singing/harmonizing/humming/whatever he does, because that's what he is known for. Although I don't consider him a rapper in the traditional sense of the word, I do consider him a somewhat well rounded artist. So, when he tricks off the first track with a soft melodic sample, I'm not surprised. That's his formula, and it works. The rapping comes down a minute in and the first thing Drake reminds you of is his level of success. The braggadocio is prevalent throughout the album, sometimes being laid on a little thick, but it's clear to see that Aubrey Graham is battling with both success and the demons that come with it.

The only problem that I really have with the Drake of this year is the hardcore image that he seems so pressed to have. There are constant mentions of getting thugs to "catch a body" in return for payment, as mentioned in the bridge on "Headlines" and affirming his masculinity. I'm not confused as to who Drake is, but it's almost as if the constant jokes about him being soft and emo are getting to him.

Self esteem issues aside, Drake did a wonderful job with getting other artists to contribute bomb ass features or verses. My favorite is the Kendrick Lamar hosted "Buried Alive Interlude" which gives the Cali emcee a chance to highlight his versatility and prowess. I also dig the track "Crew Love," featuring the increasingly popular co-Canadien singer The Weeknd. Some associates of mine hate that the instrumental jumps often, but that's my favorite part, aside from The Weeknd's vocals.

Although emo and Canadien, Drake makes another effort to showcase his popularity and his street appeal on the tracks "Under Ground Kings" and "Practice," the latter sampling "Back That Azz Up," the highly popular club thumper by Juvenile, who co-signed off on both the sample and the overall sound of the song. Drake actually does his thing with these two songs (half of "Practice" being sampled lyrics, however) and I can accept this a lot more than I can accept Drake threatening someone on wax for calling him a pussy. Leave the streets to the streets, Drake.

Thankfully, Drake doesn't seem too hell bent on proving his urban prowess. When he mentions it, he shoves it down your throat (*pause*), but when he's on another topic, he stays there. He's consistent, for the most part, and it is refreshing.

There are a lot of features on the album, way more than I care for, but they're there and none of them are surprising. In addition to the acts mentioned earlier, there's Rhianna, labelmate Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, and his boss' boss: Birdman. The 5 Star Stunna really was a waste of time and recording, though. He doesn't rap, he just talks and tries to lend credence to Drake's urban appeal...and fails.

All in all, the album is a wonderful effort of the path and perils of success, the effect it has on a person and that person's loves and what choices may come up. I rock the hell out of the singles like Marvin's Room and Headlines, but my favorite tracks are the ones where Drake appears to be most real to himself, tracks such as "Cameras" and "The Real Her," which has a class act verse by Andre 3000, god emcee. As a matter of fact, Drake should spend more time about 3Stacks to understand what it takes and what it means to accept yourself and to be comfortable in being yourself.

This album is #NiftyApproved, but will get more respect when he cuts down on the features and increases his self worth.

Stay tuned for "Blue Slide Park" by Mac Miller, a Billboard number one album with NO guest features...

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