Confidence has never been a problem for Drake. With a backing from Lil’ Wayne prior to even being signed you could attribute this to the company he keeps, but that would be short-sighted. Drake’s debut series of online mixtapes saw him ruminating on the excesses of fame he had yet to achieve, but on Take Care, his second official LP, he fully inhabits those trappings.
RELEASED: November 15, 2011
GENRE: Hip hop, R&B
LABEL: Young Money, Cash Money, Universal Republic
1. “Over My Dead Body”
2. “Shot for Me”
4. “Crew Love” (featuring The Weeknd)
5. “Take Care” (featuring Rihanna)
6. “Marvins Room”
7. “Buried Alive Interlude (featuring Kendrick Lamar)”
8. “Under Ground Kings”
9. “We’ll Be Fine” (featuring Birdman)
10. “Make Me Proud” (featuring Nicki Minaj)
11. “Lord Knows” (featuring Rick Ross)
12. “Cameras / Good Ones Go Interlude”
13. “Doing It Wrong”
14. “The Real Her” (featuring Lil Wayne and André 3000)
15. “Look What You’ve Done”
16. “HYFR (Hell Ya F****ng Right)” (featuring Lil Wayne)
18. “The Ride”
Kanye West led the way for open-book candidness with 808’s and Heartbreak, and then ran rampant with the brilliant absurdity and epic grandeur of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Drake runs with these themes and has carved out a niche of his own that fits seamlessly between hip-hop and R&B. He can certainly hold his own with the heavy hitters in hip-hop, spitting the best verses on DJ Khaled’s star studded ‘I’m On One’. As Take Care progresses though, there is a noticeable emphasis on atmospherics and nuanced production too, tenets often associated with R&B. Long-time producer Noah “40” Shebib has tightened up the somewhat understated production from Thank Me Later and the polished sound is maximized by Drake, who is noticeably less restrained.
On opener ‘Over my Dead Body’ Drake gives his state of the nation address; the optimistic piano adds to the sense that he’s delivering it with a hard-earned smile. It’s an impression of what’s to come: tales of a savvy, self-aware talent navigating the gauntlet of being a celebrity. The allure comes from how Drake makes it a relatable trial. His disappointments are tangible, but he’s looking up. Like on ‘HYFR’ which features Lil Wayne and an envy-inducing fast paced flow from Drake, where he reins in his sadness with “What have I learned since getting richer?/ I learned working with the negatives could make for better pictures.”
Even as his sincerity spills into darker lyrical territory, it’s still just as charming because he is humbled by admitting to familiar human weakness. This is evident on ‘Marvin’s Room’ which ought to be the anthem for ill-intentioned drunk dialling. The muffled, sparse beats and hazy electronics are not far off from the pristine sounding depravity you’d hear from Drake’s new Canadian counterpart The Weeknd, who features on ‘Crew Love’. The young Abel Tesfaye uses his vocal talent which is commanding in its clarity to set Drake up for the thumping and unapologetic back-end of the track. You’ll hear further indulgence on ‘We’ll be Fine’, where he emphasises “Still so young that I ain’t had enough of nothing.”
His rise to fame has been swift and deserved, but Take Care proves Drake is just as good as he pre-emptively gave himself credit for. It’s the sound of him revelling in it.