Drake can’t win. He just can’t. From a Hip-Hop traditionalist’s point of view, Drake’s the following: polarizing, hypocritical and nauseatingly emotional. For casual fans he doesn’t create enough “Best I Ever Had” tracks. He’s forever stuck between pleasing these two bases that he’ll never be anyone’s objectified hero. However, that’s his contentious identity. And it’s no wonder that everyone has had plenty of opinions to offer about his sophomore effort, Take Care, an engaging album that combines Noah “40” Shebib’s signature fuzzed drone over Drake’s melancholy R&B crooning and Hip-Hop bars.
The album’s opening track, “Over My Dead Body,” is sad, lugubrious, but also boastful. Drizzy states over the tinkling piano, “I think I killed everybody in the game last year/Fuck it, I was on though,” which is comical until listeners realize that, well, he did. The OVO MC moved plenty of units with his debut, Thank Me Later, which is Drake’s own version of “killing it.” But it’s this earnestness and sincerity that make Take Care unique. He believes in what he does—much like the NFL’s Tim Tebow—and within this prism he prospers. On his R&B cuts he coolly addresses former loves on “Shot For Me,” while also dropping his guard with drunk dials on “Marvin’s Room”: “Fuck that n***a that you love so bad/I know you still think about the time’s we had.” Both records are smothered in lush harmonies that continue to defy the laws of conventional Hip-Hop.
For all of the naysayers claiming he still can’t rap, the Toronto MC provides plenty of head-nodding verses. “Headlines” – while being the album’s go-to first single – packs plenty of solipsistic bravado. “Underground Kingz” rattles like a signature UGK tune and, while it isn’t Chad and Bun rhyming, Drake raps like a man who could care less about his detractors: “Oh, fuck with me, because I buy the shots/Live a little ‘cause n***as die a lot, and lie a lot/But I’m the truth, that’s right I fucking said it.” And Take Care’s latter track, “Look What You’ve Done,” is a pensive glimpse through life’s looking glass that ranks as one of Drake’s best, chronicling his relationship with his mother over Chase N. Cashe and 40’s dreary production: “And you tell me I’m just like my father, my one button you push it/Now it’s ‘Fuck you, I’ll hate you, I’ll move out in a heartbeat.”
Drake trapezes through these bouts, but he also suffers from creating an album that’s long—eighteen tracks with plenty of four minute-plus cuts and interludes. He also won’t win audiences who detest the “house” production of Jamie xx (the schmoozing title track with part-time lover, Rihanna), infrequent guest appearances and any of his sing-song flows. The song, “Patience,” which sees Drake turn Juvenile’s “Back Dat Azz Up” into a ballad also does him no favors at distancing himself from hyper-sensitive sap. Take Care packs all of these negligible elements together with the highs of the mighty Just Blaze-produced “Lord Knows,” which prevents the album from being the cohesive effort it could have been.
However, this is Drake. It is polarizing and his style can elicit some questionable quotes like, “you gone make someone around me catch a body like that.” For the most part, though, he doesn’t pretend to be someone he’s not. He’s honest and that’s a trait that should warrant support, even if listeners aren’t quote-on-quote fans. Take Care isn’t perfect, but it’s good and provides the cultural juxtaposition that only Aubrey could create. Take Care succeeds and that’s a win itself.
Label: Young Money/Cash Money Records | Producers: Noah “40″ Shebib, Drake, Just Blaze, Boi-1da, Jamie xx, T-Minus, Chase N. Cashe, The Weeknd, Illangelo, Doc McKinney, Supa Dups, Chantal Kreviazuk