It’s weird to think that only a year after the release of his debut full-length, Drake has become one of those figures that need no introduction. It really is hard to forget how Thank Me Later ruled the airwaves for the larger part of 2010. You either loved the success that came with that record, or you hated it. Truth be told, that’s probably exactly how Drake wanted it all to play it out. By being both the most loved and most hated new face of hip-hop last year, he ensured his place in mainstream culture.
Despite the fact that Drake was one of the most original rappers to hit the airwaves last year, I must admit I absolutely despised his record. His flimsy flow and delivery combined with some of the worst lyrics I had heard in a long time made me aggravated at his success. Yet I was intrigued at the thought of his second record. Something told me that he would exemplify what made him interesting (the production) and finally find his place as a true artist. Luckily my prediction wasn’t too far off. Drake has really stepped it up in Take Care.
Drake has kept what really made him great in his first record and has improved what brought him down. With a lovely feature from Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk, “Over My Dead Body” is a comeback song that doesn’t try to be tough or hard. Much like Canada, Drake’s home country, the music behind this track is cold and desolate. Yet he is able to bring his swagger with lines like “Are these people discussing my career again?/Asking if I’ll be going platinum in a year again?/Don’t I got the shit the world wanna hear again?/Don’t Michael Jordan still got his hoop earring in?”. But he remains humane by saying “And I be hearing the shit you say through the grapevine/But jealousy is just hate and love at the same time.”
Drake is one of the new breed of artists who have truly taken to the “Mo Money Mo Problems” saying. There are tracks that represent the way success has tainted his relationships as well as the way that he makes music. In “Shot for Me,” he tells of the ways that his relationships have been ruined (“But you believed in everything but me, girl, I don’t get you/She says I know you’ve changed, I never see you/Cause you’re always busy doing things.”) “Headlines” portrays the ugly side of gaining commercial success (“If they don’t get it they’ll be over you/That new shit you got is overdue/You better do what you’re supposed to do/I’m like “why I gotta be all that?” but still I can’t deny the fact/That it’s true.”)
The longer tracks on the album are quite the treat. They could have easily become tedious but they manage to work, particularly “Marvin’s Room,” which is a confession from a broken heart (“I see all of her friends here/Guess she don’t have time to kick it no more/Flights in the morning/What you doing that’s so important?”) The longest track on the record, “Cameras/Good Ones Go” may have a hell of a hook, but it’s the second and mellower half of the track that really shines.
Other standout tracks include “Underground Kings” and “Look What You’ve Done.” The former has a huge chorus and a danceable beat, making it an ideal next single. The latter, however, is the complete opposite. It’s Drake at his most vulnerable and sentimental, as he recounts his story as an aspiring musician.
The main problem with this record is the guest spots. Not to say they were all terrible, but it felt like they impeded the true idea and concept of the album. Nicki Minaj and Rihanna do decent jobs, but they’re brought in to do their own thing. Some of the other guests range from terrible to laughable. Rick Ross teams up with Drake in “Lord Knows” to create what is easily one of the most boring and forgettable tracks on Take Care. Lil Wayne’s appearance on the other hand is highly memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. His flow is flimsy and his lyrics have hit a new low (“Met a female dragon/Had a fire conversation.”)
Overall Take Care is an album that contains some pretty fantastic songs, but is not without its missteps. Clocking in at almost 80 minutes, this record could have benefited from some fat trimming. It is however still worth a shot; certain tracks are impeccable and really show that Drake is one of mainstream hip-hop’s most interesting icons. He hasn’t exactly managed to fulfill his ultimate vision, but this record is proof that he is very close to it.