This is a review I wrote for a friend a back when Take Care dropped in 2011. It was the first time I sat down and listened to an entire Drake project. Prior to that I had only heard singles, and didn’t really enjoy any of them except “Over.” If you disagree with me, that’s entirely fine, but at least enjoy the review for what it is.
On November 15, 2011, Drake will place his golden goblet down on his Austrian imported coffee table, slip on his goose down slippers, and descend from the Epicurean city of excess with his latest project, Take Care. The essence of a million virgins shall be stolen by opportunistic frat boys, and the sex-addled minds of women everywhere shall delight in the bounty of wet dream jams that their saint has adorned them with. In a nutshell, Drake shall leave a trail of moist panties and softly broken hearts along the yellow bricked road that is his career.
And excuse me for slightly describing my preconceived disdain for Drizzy’s music- its simply that this new breed of “soap opera rap” (as he himself coined it on the track Headlines) does not wash over my musical palette without him leaving a considerable aftertaste of arrogance and an unnerving bipolar approach to women. Although Drake certainly seems to be a genuine emotional person if not a bit eccentric in his expression (lavender-scented showers, anyone?). Regardless, there was something for me to delight in on this album.
First and foremost were the beats. I am admitting a dearth of knowledge of his previous work, but as far as this project’s case, there seems to have been a conscious effort in acquiring high-quality instrumentals that add to his message, rather than simply provide a backdrop. The track “Crew Love” has a swirling, cavernous feel to it, and this pulsating, glassy sample adds a nice touch. The titular track, which features an underused Rihanna feature, has a dancehall-esque bass rhythm garnished with piano and live drums. While annoying at this point, “Marvin’s Room” still objectively merits from these cacophonous screeching sounds in the background, the swooning synth, and those nice bass stabs.
Despite Nicki Minaj’s presence on “Make Me Proud,” simply put that beat still goes hard (and frankly she was OK). And it took a while for me to come around on this one, but the Just Blaze sculpture on “Lord Knows” has to be one the best commercial beats this year, not to talk of being a great single later on down the promotion line. I love how the initial sample swirls round and round until swelling into an emphatic choral refrain accompanied band-style drums. And the beat goes straight laxative when Rick Ross bosses up the joint. It is truly gorgeous. And even if a beat failed to stand out among the herd, it at least kept with the consistent tone of the album and was by no means crap.
In a distant second were the lyrics. Now, let me preface this by saying that it is damn near impossible for me to critique the numerous sections on the album where Drake sings. Because that would be like a fifteen-year old girl enjoying The Expendables. They’re simply these overdrawn R&B stereotypes inflated to their breaking point and delivered with the sultry voice, crooning women into climax. Slow jam is not a good enough terminology for the concoctions that bears his name. Thankfully, he does not “Drake” on every song, and provides a compelling slew of rap songs accessible by those who want them. He’s got the flow, and on a lazy day, I would let “Headlines” or “We’ll Be Fine” bump in the whip.
The topics he discusses are quite varied, ranging from women, how his fame has attracted women, how he can’t settle down with some women, how he raps for women, and how many women he womens while womenning in Womendom. This cavalcade of sexy time, life’s pleasures, and paper-thin emotional display is to be expected like snow in the winter. But I still cannot shake my innate feelings on his approach. I mean come on, for a guy who wants to save women to also claim that “he can’t trust these hos” or the fact that he like girls who “practice” with other guys, isn’t there something uneven about that profile? He pretends to be the suave sweater-laden rapper who understands women, but then quickly objectifies women when it seems right. Cognitive dissonance is the bullshit I am calling here.
Overall, the album is not really expanding to any new territories save for the production. I suppose if you wanted this album, you would’ve had it by now. If anything, “Make Me Proud” and “Lord Knows” are songs that we can all Kuumbaya to in the proverbial club.
Drake sounds like J. Cole. Or does J. Cole sound like Drake? He did drop his debut an entire year after; its just an observation.
Check out the official DEHH Take Care review.