It almost goes without saying that Drake won’t be repping for the hard knocks in the school of life. Nobody expects a Timb boots wearing roughneck album but the members of the BT are man (and in one case, woman) enough to deal with emotional content. So will Drizzy tug at their heartstrings or lull them to sleep? Read on to find out.
All the talk about Drake being “emo” ought to be thrown out the window as soon as you come to terms with the fact that he’s not going for the “gulliest rapper alive” award. Sure, the hip hop purist in me wants to tear this album apart with witty remarks and Hex Murdaesque insults, but I’d be doing myself and you the reader a great disservice if I neglected to pay Take Care its dues. For starters, this record is what Thank Me Later coulda/shoulda been. The production is both epic and urgent, dominated by the ethereal, moody atmospherics of Noah “40” Shebib – which was first introduced to us on So Far Gone. Take Care’s got some “soft” tracks; it’s also got some “hard(er)” tracks; but most importantly, it’s got very few filler tracks – and that’s what’s most relevant to this discussion. If music was akin to architecture, Take Care would be a beautifully-designed, magnificent palace. Drake’s reinterpretation of Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” on “Practice” – arguably the understated highlight of the album – is as strong of a case as any that he can twirl his wand at his whim and create magic at any and every corner. The bottom line is that this is just a well-constructed record that really hits its stride and delivers on its promise. The only backpackers who’ll approve of Take Care will be the ones who permit this to be a “guilty pleasure” at the very most. Maybe I’m right there with ‘em. Yes, I’m guilty to acknowledging this album’s greatness.
So Far Gone 2 is what this is, with extra simp raps added for flavor. The production on this is solid for the most part – Just Blaze made an undeniable banger with “Lord Knows.” “HYFR” is cool, too. And Kendrick Lamar comes through to murdalize this whole joint on “Buried Alive”. Conversely, “Practice” defiled the memory of “Back That Azz Up”. Aubrey’s “sucker for stripper love” raps aren’t my cup of tea, though. Neither is an album chock full of “woe is me, the girl isn’t mine” raps. Aubrey plays the role of simp to perfection but it’s about time he leaves his past heartaches in the past. How long can a person cry about the one(s) that got away? Quit crying over spilt milk, youngins. No one expects Aubrey to bust his gun or punch holes through school buses, but dry your eyes and quit your bloodclot crying already.
Drake and producer/co-writer Noah ’40’ Shebib have managed to craft a both sonically and topically cohesive album while Drake has perfected his melodic flow and seamlessly goes from singing to rapping and back. The hashtag rap has (with a few exceptions) been excorcized as well and the guests are down to a minimum who do perform well. So far the good news. Everybody knows Drake isn’t the happiest of campers but his depressed lamentations quickly become grating, they fit the instrumentals like a glove but even when they celebrate ‘the life’ they can’t escape the overall sense of melancholy. Maybe all Drake really does need is that special someone but something about his musings about the girl that got away/was no good/he played but shouldn’t have, feels false. Drizzy builds a character diametrically opposed to the braggadocious gangsters who’ve become the rapper stereotype but it comes across as just another act all the same. “Girl I’m different from those other guys who are all dogs but I’m really just like them except when I’m not, awww” seems to be the gist. Whatever. The beats start to gel together and lose distinction from each other halfway through the album but luckily Just Blaze has the dial set to ‘epic’ once again for ‘Lord Knows’ featuring some laugh-out-loud phrases by Rozay; “Only fat n***a in a sauna full of Jews.” At least he’s having fun. Something this sourpuss album could’ve used more of.
It would be easy (and fun) to sharpen my pen and give you one of those “this-sounds-like -the-Snuggle®-bear-just-farted-into-a-bag-of-cotton-candy” Take Care critweets you read when the project leaked last week. And while the album ain’t exactly granite, it doesn’t feel completely like a down pillow either.
I often complain that today’s hip hop artists employ an outer shell of violence and misogyny that is supposed to define their masculinity. So how I can really fault a dude for shying away from that and sharing his inner dialogue of raw emotions related to fame and failed relationships? It worked for Ye’s 808’s & Heartbreaks, why shouldn’t it resonate here?
Sure, there are times when the sentiment builds to wrist-slitting levels (“Marvin’s Room”), but elsewhere, he’s just a Jodeci-rap writer auditioning for UGK 2.0. It’s listenable, but “I’m just saying – you could do better.”
When asked about Drake, my response of late has been “he’s good at what he does.” What he does is rap and croon about living in the moment, and damn if he didn’t live it up on “Thank Me Later.” However, “Take Care” offers very little of the excitement that went along with Drizzy’s respective party, money-getting, and panty-dropping anthems. Instead, the man’s sophomore album is plagued by boring, spacy beats, a droning flow, and far too many weak vocals. There are moments where Drake summons his inner rhyme-monster, but not enough of them. Because of this, the lively tracks dotted about the drowsy album makes for an uneven product. Drake is still lamenting the trials of fame, still chasing mini-skirts, and still flaunting cash. However, on this go round, he sounds very dull doing so.
“Take Care” is a Drake album, in more ways than one. It’s an introspective, honest and overly emotional offering from an (admittedly) emotional man. From describing where his life is at now, with the fame and fortune he’s amassed, you can’t come away from listening to this without thinking all he wants is to be loved. Does Drake have rhyme skills? Yes, he does. Can he sing? Yes, indeed he can. Do I need to listen to an entire album of his venting about problems most people WISH they had (that really should’ve been told to Drake’s therapist)? Nope, I sure don’t. I have my favorites (like “Crew Love” featuring The Weeknd, the Rihanna assisted “Take Care”, “Cameras”, and the Just Blaze produced “Lord Knows” with Rick Ross) but I won’t be listening to the rest of this album. It’s not because it’s bad either, it’s just simply because even Drake is a little too emotional for me.
A slow-rolling, briefly entertaining, occasionally ponderous, sometimes lazy, sometimes brilliant, rap-singy, bulls-eye missing, kitten-friendly, runway-ready, mega corny, lip-smacking, self-conscious, self-correcting, self-indulging, finely tuned, Houston infatuated, crowd pleasing, delightfully weird, emotionally raw, limp, wet, innocuous, cute, plush, brooding, musical, whimsical, exotic, pensive, V-necked, quasi-American, strutting, doting, cloying, safe alternative to sleeping pills.