I needed to take some time with this album review because as you may know I cover a lot of Drake and personally he is one of my favorite artists. I had been highly anticipating Take Care for months and was hoping for something to top Thank Me Later. Luckily enough the world (and myself) was given one of the more innovative albums in a long time. This is the Drake everyone went crazy over after So Far Gone. This is a sound many artists cannot do. This is a project that Drake put so much effort, emotion, and time into perfecting each and every song. I’m obviously biased toward Drizzy, but did the best I could to be objective. Comments and critiques always welcome. Hit the jump for the review.
Drake’s sophomore album Take Care was one of the Top 5 most highly anticipated albums this year. To even say that, is a huge accomplishment. This year was pretty insane with debuts from J. Cole, Big Sean, and Mac Miller as well as huge albums from an assortment of rappers. Lupe dropped Lasers in March, Wale had been hyping Ambition for what seemed like an entire year, and what seemed like every artist in the business was dropping some sort of project. Not to mention, Weezy returned from jail and released the infamous Tha Carter IV. Woops almost forgot that Kanye West and Jay-Z formed the craziest rap duo in history to release Watch The Throne. See my point? This year has been jammed packed with good music and the Hip Hop world has been overflowing with progressive music that is changing the sounds we once knew and loved. Through all this, Drizzy has been subtle in saying that “everyone will see on October 24th”, the original release date for his sophomore album. Even after Thank Me Later dropped last year, Drizzy had said that his next album was going to be crazier and even more personal. And since TML did so well commercially (going platinum), it put Drake in the upper-echelon of upcoming artists and many were expecting greatness from Take Care.
Drake took a bit of a hiatus from music in the latter part of 2010. He finished off his promo tours, did a few big features, but mostly took time to work diligently on his next album. In late 2010 when Lil Wayne was released from prison, many believed Drizzy’s and Nicki’s run as king and queen of Hip Hop had come to an end now that the “Best Rapper Alive” was home. Few really saw what was happening. Drizzy stayed behind the scenes crafting his next masterpiece while Weezy did a million features and began hyping Tha Carter IV. Months passed and many questioned what was going to happen with Drake in 2011. Then, starting in early March, Drizzy burst back into the national spotlight with the release of the “All Of The Lights (Remix)”. This song reminded the music world really how good Drizzy is and the potential he has. It quickly became a fan favorite and put Drizzy back in talks about being one of the better up and coming artists. The hype was slowly increasing for Drake but there wasn’t too much new music. Then Drizzy, Khaled, Ross, and Wayne dropped an atom bomb on everyone. “I’m On One” was released in mid-May of this year and literally set fire to the entire Hip Hop community. The song was quickly dubbed the song of the summer and began flying up the charts. It may have very well been the most played song on the radio for this entire year and it was clear that Drake stole the spotlight on the track. Drake absolutely murdered the hook, one of the best I’ve personally heard on a track in quite some time. This banger single handedly sky rocketed Drake’s hype and buzz to an all-time high. Even though everyone was going crazy over the Watch The Throne buzz and Weezy’s upcoming C4, Drizzy was the talk of every Hip Hop listener, blogger, fan, critic, etc. All everyone wanted was a Take Care single.
The prayers were answered on June 9th of this year when “Marvin’s Room” hit the OVO blog in the wee hours of the morning. The day it was released, the internet went absolutely insane. It was a huge hit among Drizzy fans and even haters. The track hit the radio and took it spot on the Hot 100 chart. Soon after, everyone was speculating what was to come on Take Care. Many began to form extremely high expectations and others began to question which direction Drake was heading, R&B or Rap. I commended Drake at the time and still agree it was a great move dropping “Marvin’s Room” back in June. He had a hit and it was an all-around hit. The track was radio friendly, relatable for all audiences, smooth and soft for the ladies, and had a theme that every single guy out there quoting his lines. I thought this was a great starting point for Drake to begin fully promoting Take Care.
The summer was a bit crazy for Drake. He did a few features, shot some videos, and made some promo appearances. All while still doing shows and finishing Take Care. With the success of “Marvin’s Room”, Drizzy had the entire world waiting to see what the next Take Care single would be. With an insane month of August about to begin, Drizzy took to his OVO blog (early morning like usual) on July 31st to drop the second single off Take Care, “Headlines“. I personally instantly fell in love with the track, but overall it got mixed reviews. Many really liked the track, but some critics saw the rapping weak and Drake’s reach for a rap radio single to slightly miss the mark. I disagreed at the time and still feel that way. The beat done by Boi-1da and 40 is pretty crazy and upbeat fitting Drake’s flow and message on the track. He took the buzz and hype he had built and channeled it all into “Headlines”. This was Drake’s track telling the world that he is a star and that he is here to stay. “I had someone tell me I fell off, ooh I needed that” says it all to me. Drake is human. Drake has feelings. Drake is slightly insecure. This track shows how Drake took all the criticism of him, the questions asked about his future, and made a stand to the world that he is THAT artist on the scene right now. That he is the one they’ve all been waiting for and that the world will get it once Take Care drops. You may argue that the song isn’t amazing, but the lyrics show Drizzy’s message, you just have to listen clearly.
Now Drake had 2 singles out and a track (“Trust Issues“) that many really enjoyed but were unsure whether it’d be on the album. Then came August, which was probably the craziest month the Hip Hop industry has seen in a long ass time. The most anticipated rap album in recent history was released on August 8th, Weezy dropped Tha Carter IV, Game finally dropped The R.E.D. Album, 2 MMG members dropped dope mixtapes, and various other big rappers were buzzing with new tracks. Not to mention there was a lot of buzz about a Weezy/Jay-Z beef resulting from lyrics in Weezy’s song “It’s Good” which featured Drake. With all this going down, how was Drake supposed to promote an album dropping in 2 months? He got slightly lucky being that both WTT and C4 disappointed many fans (mostly C4), leaving room for something crazy or someone else to claim the top spot in the game.
September came and basically everyone was hyping up J. Cole’s debut album set to be released on the 27th. It was revealed that the Drake/Cole collab “In The Morning” was going to make Cole’s album so that added some new buzz for Drake. He also released 3 new tracks on his blog on an early September night that set off a craze amongst the blogging community. His “Free Spirit” with Rick Ross was a big hit as many people took to the line “Tatt my name on you so I know its real” while always making parodies of it on Twitter. Also “Club Paradise” was a hit and gave people another great Drake song coming out of the blue. This was a great move for Drake because some of his buzz from “Marvin’s Room” and “Headlines” had died now, but now he was back in people’s everyday music conversations.
As the days got closer to October 24th, many were speculating what was going on in the Drizzy camp. There had been little promotion, no new singles since “Headlines” and no videos or blogs whatsoever. The one good thing going for Drake was his features. He killed a bunch of features this fall including his collabs with Tyga and Mary J. Blige. He also was benefitting from the success of his new artist The Weeknd as he did a feature for him on the mixtape Thursday (which was a huge hit amongst the rap/R&B community). On October 8th he announced via his blog that Take Care had been pushed back to November 15th because of sample clearing issues. Honestly at the time I was mad, but really it was the best decision for Drake. A week later his next single “Make Me Proud” featuring Nicki Minaj dropped and was a huge hit. It quickly sky-rocketed up the charts and began to dominate the radio. Drake also took advantage of the album push back by doing some good promo. He appeared on Saturday Night Live ask a guest actor and as a performer, he appeared in multiple NBA 2K commercials with MJ and Mark Cuban, and was selected to cover The Source’s annual Power 30 issue. As we moved closer to November, the unfinished version of “The Real Her” leaked which many where on the fence about. The song began to grow on people then Drake hit us with one of his bonus tracks from Take Care called “The Motto“. The track instantly blew up with many raving it was the best track they had heard from Drake in a while. This all added to Drizzy’s building more and more buzz for Take Care (not to mention the announcement of a joint mixtape with Rick Ross, but we don’t know how official that is yet). The album fully leaked a week before November 15th and was THE talk of the internet. Everyone was raving about Take Care and were already picking favorite songs, quoting lyrics, and posting the Youtube links of the leaked tracks. Once the album leaked I knew Drizzy had a special project.
The album as a whole is a pretty unbelievable project. The overall sound of the album is incredible. Drake has found his niche for making good, quality music and perfecting his sound. This sound created by Drake, 40, and other producers close to the OVO crew is changing music. This sound is not only new and innovative to the rap game, but it is garnering massive amounts of support and praise. Take Care is a whole new animal in comparison to Thank Me Later. Even though TML was a great debut album with a bunch of hit songs, Take Care is way more like Drake and I believe is his best project to date. To really understand this album, you have to grasp what kind of artist Drake is. First, you have to understand that Drake isn’t a hard guy. What I mean by this is that he’s no bonafide hustler, gang banger, or street guy. He is a more emotional guy that is in touch with females on a way higher level than most men. His music reflects just that. Yes he’s a rapper, but don’t expect a banger street record you’d hear from 50 Cent, Nas, or T.I. Drake has developed a completely original style, swag, and sound that differs from pretty much everyone else in the game. Taking all this into account you HAVE to expect a variety of slow/R&B-like songs (with rapping in them), radio hits, AND rap songs that provide a softer feel. Drake makes club bangers, smash radio singles, and intimate, personal music. DO NOT expect to hear a full on hard-Rap hit song. That isn’t Drake. If you’re looking for that, there’s plenty of it out right now, but Drake will not please you in that category. Drake is one of the best people on a hook right now in the industry and he has a great rapping ability. Together they create Drake’s sound. When you judge Take Care, be fair about it. Don’t criticize Drake for not being a “hard” rapper, or singing too much, because that’s who Drake is. He created an unbelievable concept with this album and each song touches a different part of that theme. This concept embodies who Drake is as a person and as an artist. He is a talented rapper/singer that puts the passions he has in his life directly into his music. With each song Drake brings you into his world where he is actually human, maybe even a bit insecure, but all in all, he’s real. That’s why people love him and that’s why his music is on fire right now. You hear a Drake song about a female, you instantly have a name in your head. Whether its an ex you wish you had back or a fling you’re trying to prove your worth to, you relate the music to YOUR life. This is the biggest key in music, evoking inner emotions and personal experiences from both the sound and words of a song. Drake does just that.
I first want to go over the singles from the album. I think Drake did a solid job picking his singles for Take Care. Now that we have the whole album, we can see that there weren’t too many choices for Drizzy. “Marvins Room” and “Headlines” are great tracks and 2 of the more radio friendly songs on the album (Yes I’m considering the original “Marvins Room” a single). With the third single Drizzy had to pick a track with a feature, and no better than his main girl Nicki Minaj. “Make Me Proud” may not be one of the best songs on the album but it is a solid single. Nicki brings a lot to the track in terms of fans and chemistry with Drake and the beat is pretty innovative and original. I give Drake the thumbs up on this choice as it has done quite well on the radio and been a track he’s performed at Award shows and TV appearances. I will say I’m not in love with the track but it definitely works for the third single.
Next I want to discuss the ultra intimate, very personal, slower songs on Take Care. In this category I have “Shot For Me”, “Cameras”, “Doing It Wrong”, “The Real Her”, “Look What You’ve Done”, and “Practice”. Looking at that last sentence you might be like wow that’s a lot of slow songs for this album. But it isn’t as bad as it seems. “Shot For Me” is a mix of singing and rapping where Drizzy is seemingly talking to a female whom he’s been in relations with. He is asking the girl to take a shot for him being that after all the bad he’s done to her he’s still accomplished so much and deserves all his success. The beat is super smooth as always and sounds almost too perfect for Drake. “Cameras”, “Doing It Wrong” and “The Real Her” are the typical slower R&B type Drake songs on the album. I compare them to “Karaoke”, “The Resistance” and “Shut It Down” from Thank Me Later. All three songs are very intimate and invoke those inner emotions dealing with love, relationships, and the issues that go along with both of those things. You can really see from these three songs how much Drake’s singing voice has improved over the past year. For some reason Drake is able to hold your attention on a song that is the opposite of a rap record and involves little to no rapping whatsoever. For that I commend Drizzy. “Look What You’ve Done” has one of the best themes/messages on the album. Drake reflects on his childhood and how it made him who he is today. He is basically thanking the people who helped influence his music and reminiscing of the great times he had with those people. “Practice” is low key becoming my favorite song on the album. Drake took an already smash hit song “Back That Azz Up” by Juvenile and put his own fresh spin on it. If you ask me, I personally think Drake did the hook much better than Juvy ever could have dreamed of, but maybe that’s my bias. Also another great theme in this track that falls under his overall concept on Take Care. Few extras about these tracks: The Stevie Wonder solo on “Doing It Wrong” is absolutely insane and the fact that Drake realizes how great Stevie is and is bold enough to put him on his album shows me a lot of confidence and music knowledge. Also, Andre 3000 does kill his “The Real Her” feature but I would have liked Drake to use him in a more rapping style. I compare the song to “Shut It Down” but to me it doesn’t compete. It is a solid song for those who love that real slow, smooth, Drake and 40 music.
Take Care also contains some great up beat, feel good songs with some of the better production in the industry right now. If you’ve listened to the album you know how epic the track “Lord Knows” is. Just Blaze put together one of the best beats I’ve heard this year especially knowing the way he produced it. Epic is really the only way I can describe the track as Drake and Ricky Rozay bring a lot of passion and seem to get real personal with their bars. This track has the whole industry buzzing about the joint mixtape Rozay and Drizzy got coming called Y.O.L.O. which should be insane. Another positive about the track is that Ross brings a lot as a feature but he doesn’t take over the track, it remains Drizzy’s. This leads me into my next point about how Drake got some awesome features on the album.
Tracks 4 and 5 are two of the better Drizzy non-rap but not too slow songs he’s put out in his career. “Crew Love” featuring The Weeknd is one of the crazier tracks on the album and I go as far as to say that Drake took a big chance with this record. He handed off the hook to his new OVOXO, Toronto singer (The Weeknd) which to no surprise, he absolutely murders. It’s super smooth, catchy, and the lyrics flow right off your tongue. The theme of the track is also great and really adds to the emotions invoked by Drake and The Weeknd’s smooth singing. Drake raps a few bars but overall keeps the track a certain way so that its soft on the ears and appealing to the heart. The title track (#5) also gives me a similar feel to “Crew Love”. Rihanna and Drake took the Gil Scott Heron sample and made a phenomenal new song with it. Jamie XX hooked up the amazing electric piano riff with a very catchy drum beat while floating both Rihanna’s and Drizzy’s great singing voices right above his production. Drake does a great job of rapping/singing in his verses which really fits for this song. Also they inserted a really dope break (featuring Gil Scott Heron, the man who wrote this song originally) towards the end of the track that I was completely surprised by on my first listen. This track has been rumored to be the next single off the album and that is for good reason. This is hands down the best collab of a guy and a girl singer this year and maybe even in the last 5 years. Amazing theme to the track as well and there’s no other girl than Rihanna that guys want to hear singing “I’ll take care of you” and vice versa for girls with Drizzy.
Finally there were a few of the more pure rapping songs that many Drizzy fans want more of from him. These tracks were “Over My Dead Body”, “Underground Kings”, and “HYFR (Hell Ya Fuckin’ Right)”. I’ve already heard plenty of people claiming these tracks to be of their favorites on the album and I most certainly agree. The intro track “Over My Dead Body” has some of Drake’s best lyrics on the album. He gets very personal in both his verses and you get this great feeling from the sound of his voice. Its sorta like Drizzy is sitting on a rooftop in Miami looking out on the ocean smoking a cigar, talking with a sarcastic tone but at times getting serious, telling the whole world to hop on the bandwagon now before Drizzy takes his spot on The Throne. “Underground Kings” is slowly becoming a Drizzy rap classic. The samples from the track are from three dope ass songs (2 of which are Weezy’s) creating a classic sounding beat. Drake goes at it in his verses on this one and really shows where he’s come from and where he’s going. I love the hook and think it’s really catchy with one of the more youthful messages on the album. “HYFR” is yet another Weezy collab on Take Care and is more of that newer Weezy sound. The beat has crazy electric synths and a dope live drum feel. It’s more of a slower rap song but doesn’t lack in intensity. Drake definitely gets Wayne on the verses, but Wayne destroys the hook. In his usual martian sounding voice Wayne puts together some catchy lyrics that many are taking to. This is probably my 2nd favorite of the 3 Wayne collabs. My favorite brings us to the bonus tracks.
“The Motto” is one crazy track. Love the beat, props to T-Minus, as I definitely see it having radio and club potential. Also its got one of the better club “claps” I’ve heard in a track since “Dance (A$$)” off Big Sean’s debut earlier in the year. Drake does Uncle Luke dirty in his verse (read up on his beef with Lil Wayne) and absolutely nails the hook. Wayne assists with his best verse on the album and helps Drizzy in establishing his motto Y.O.L.O. (You Only Live Once). Very relatable theme for a track that makes you want to immediately break down and dance. “Hate Sleeping Alone” is a track Drizzy obviously made for the females. The title says it all and if you take to Drizzy singing to you (I’m talking to all the females) this track is definitely for you. I guess I kinda agree with Drizzy, its always nice to have someone to sleep with. “The Ride” is slowly becoming one of my favorites on the album. I thought it would have been a dope intro song also but it seems to fit as a fire bonus track.
Overall, Drake put out one of the more quality projects of the year. His hard work and dedication as he went Gold in his first week selling over 600k copies, debuting at number one. I’m interested to see how fast it goes platinum as it took WTT a few months. Bottom line, Drake is a commercial artist doing things in an indie way. He’s pushing HIS sound, HIS style, HIS everything. You can’t tell me Baby is sitting their with the Universal reps telling Drake what tracks should make the album. Drake clearly has the keys to success and continues to grow and progress as an artist. The album shows a very personal side of Drake that many love to relate to and hear about. I would love to see him get into more rapping but the future is unknown. The biases in this review are clear, I’m a Drake fan. Please feel free to hit me back with any comments or questions, I’d be happy to answer them.
Thanks for reading if you got this far,