2011

Take Care – Drake (2011)

Verdict – 8.2

The second album by Canadian PBR&B/Hip Hop artist Aubrey Graham, known as Drake, took the preconceptions of Hip Hop and generally mainstream/popular rap and chose to offer something a little bit different. It’s clear from early on, a lot of the album is minimalistic and downtempo, hence the now categorisation of Graham as a PBR&B artist. The production on Take Care is the album’s strongest factor, with the lush, chilled out vibe of the album highlighting what makes Graham the most interesting new Hip Hop star for a long time. His lyrics (due to a lot of singing surprisingly) and verses have sharpened up. Although like many other artists, the majority of the album speaks about his success and greatness, but they sound more introspective rather than arrogant as he contemplates failed romances, friends and family, and his concerns of a hollow life caused by his wealth and fame.

The album opens with Over My Dead Body, which showcases his terrific wordplay. “Are these people really 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?” The last line implying those previous questions are all rhetorical. Album highlight, Headlines, the most boastful song on the album has subtle yet strong lyrics (drinking every night because we drink to my accomplishments) and is probably the most likeable song on the album. Following that is the stellar, Crew Love, which features his other half (OVOXO), PBR&B singer, The Weeknd. The production is fantastic, with a strong hook and verse, containing the clever lines, “The realist niggas say your lyrics do shit for me, I told my story, and made his-tory.”

The album’s best track comes courtesy of the soft, intimate Graham, Marvin’s Room. One of the year’s best songs, the song has Graham making a drunk phone-call to an ex. The production is sparse and lush, the lyrics (the song is almost entirely singing) honest and strong, and the verse is probably the best verse on Take Care. The hook is brilliant, “Fuck that nigga that you think you found, and since you picked up, I know he’s not around”, followed bythe blunt interjection from the ex, “Are you drunk right now?” The verse also contains the most memorable lines of the entire album, “After a while, girl, they all seem the same, I’ve had sex four times this week; I’ll explain, having a hard time adjusting to fame.” Following directly after that is the other standout, Buried Alive (Interlude), featuring Kendrick Lamar. A direct message to Graham, Lamar speaks about his desire for the fame and wealth that Drake has gained. Closing with the lines, commenting on what hip hop success does to your life, and even through Garham’s warnings, Lamar has chosen his path. “So dig a shovel full of money, full of power, full of pussy, full of fame and bury yourself alive. Then I died.”

Take Care is overlong, and I feel its biggest flaw comes directly from the fact the album is too long and allows for weak/filler tracks. Don’t get me wrong though, despite the relatively low rating (coming from the fact of many weaker songs present), there are enough strong songs on this album to easily place it amongst 2011’s best. It seems like Graham has indeed, “learned working with the negatives could make for better pictures”, as embracing the negative moments of his life and his emotions have really clarified his status as an emerging star. But really, he already knew it didn’t he? As he quotes on Underground Kings, “I’m the greatest man, I said that before I knew I was.”

Top Songs – Headlines, Marvin’s Room, Buried Alive (Interlude)

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