Drake – Take Care

written by: November 15, 2011
Release Date: November 15th, 2011


Drake might be hip-hop’s First World Problems poster boy, but tell Arcade Fire that the kids in the suburbs don’t have problems, too. What Drake does is almost exclusively a Drake thing. His fusion of R&B, pop and hip-hop in which he moves back and forth from singing and rapping is his own style. It works because it has big hooks, big beats and real emotion. It strikes a balance between the “I’m rich, bitch” narcissism and love and longing content that permeates modern pop both in sound and lyrics. But, like Kanye West, Drake uses his fame as sort of a cover for his emotional instability and insecurities, and his overtly expressive tunes are genuine and relatable. Drake deals with the divorce of his parents, the insufficiency of sex or money, and the fear of being alone, among other things, openly and honestly. If anything, this gives him a whole different appeal to an entire demographic.

Since Drake is, in some regards, the Young Money response to West’s heart-on-sleeve style of hip-hop, it’s no surprise that Take Care bears a lot of similarities to West’s hugely successful My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. From the promotional work akin to G.O.O.D. Fridays, the collaboration-heavy song load, the extended interludes, the Gil Scott-Heron sampling, and an appearance by his ex-girlfriend, the album seems to make an attempt at dissecting the formula that made Yeezy’s release so successful from both a marketing and a content standpoint. There’s more: Where West had Bon Iver, Drake has The Weeknd; where West got Elton John, Drake got Stevie Wonder. Fortunately, Drake still has his own thing going on, and these surface comparisons are just that.

The album’s cover shows Drake with a lot of useless gold objects and paintings, sitting alone. And this is the dichotomy that he deals with on Take Care. There is a sense of alienation here—one that Drake tries to overcome with his money—but as time goes on, he realizes that it just won’t do. This is a different sentiment than the one on Thank Me Later, where Drake is more hopeful about where things are going. It’s kind of a remarkable shift in less than two years.

And he really packed the disc to capacity. The crazy thing is that it doesn’t feel like any of these songs don’t belong. In fact, some key tracks such as “Dreams Money Can Buy” are even missing. But there’s a reason why that single didn’t make the cut over others. It doesn’t fit the mood lyrically, while “Marvin’s Room” is almost the thesis of Take Care. Drake has all the money and women he can imagine (which on Thank Me Later, he thought would fulfill him), but he is ultimately depressed. When before in the history of hip-hop has a rapper of his status expressed regret for having sex four times in a week? Drake so desperately wants to have a real connection with someone that he will (drunkenly) call a former fling, confess his bad deeds, and realize he wants to change while convincing her to cheat on her boyfriend with him. It’s sort of nihilistic.

As far as new tracks go, “Crew Love” has a throbbing beat, giving off, appropriately, the feeling of being in a club. The Weeknd is perfect for Drake because his music is an embodiment of the escapism that can occur from the feelings articulated throughout the disc.

“Lord Knows,” with a monster of a beat provided by Just Blaze, provides a midway energy boost. The title track sees Drake and Rihanna paint the picture of an odd beginning to a relationship that appears at once promising and troubling. Wonder busts out a beautiful harmonica solo at the end of “Doing It Wrong.” But picking apart and explaining all of the tracks on this massive album would be tiresome and unnecessary.

It’s all really solid material, and the listener will get out of it whatever they are willing to put in.

Take Care might not be as immediate as his previous works, but it is a stronger, more powerful release. It’s sprawling and ambitious, but the craftsmanship is remarkable. The beats are rich and thick, and the collaborations are fitting. Drake’s ability to emote and be real holds all the weight it needs to, advancing his already-unique sound while maintaining all of the qualities fans have come to expect from him. The style and execution here will undoubtedly be imitated by many to follow. Drake notes at the end of his sophomore album that his “junior and senior will only get meaner,” but it’s OK—you can thank him now.

Drake – Take Care tracklist:

  1. “Over My Dead Body”
  2. “Shot for Me”
  3. “Headlines”
  4. “Crew Love” (featuring The Weeknd)
  5. “Take Care” (featuring Rihanna)
  6. “Marvins Room/Buried Alive” (featuring Kendrick Lamar)
  7. “Under Ground Kings”
  8. “We’ll Be Fine” (featuring Bird Man)
  9. “Make Me Proud” (featuring Nicki Minaj)
  10. “Lord Knows” (featuring Rick Ross)
  11. “Cameras/Good Ones Go”
  12. “Doing It Wrong” (featuring Stevie Wonder)
  13. “The Real Her” (featuring Lil Wayne and André 3000)
  14. “Look What You’ve Done”
  15. “HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)” (featuring Lil Wayne)
  16. “Practice”
  17. “The Ride”