Drake – Take Care [Review]

I have an odd relationship with Drake’s music. Comeback Season is not only the Drake album that still gets the most spins from me, but it’s one of my favorite mixtapes period. So Far Gone was our choice for mixtape of the year in ’09 and while I thought it was good, it wasn’t as good as the previous one. Then we got Thank Me Later which could be called So Far Gone Part 2 and the sound that ultimately birthed the Drake era. He managed to go from actor that raps, to rapper that sings, to artist that has his own lane. I can’t hate on that at all, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I miss the Comeback Season Drake. I’d be lying if I said that YMCMB Drake is the sound that I expected after posting that first article 3 years ago. The funny thing about all that is that even though he’s so far gone from the introduction I had to him, he’s not putting out bad product. As a matter of fact, you can almost say that his sound has changed the game so much that most of the new rappers sound like students of his music. However, with that transition there comes the inevitable rift between new fan and old fan, backpacker and hipster, the old guard and the new. Somehow, I think he’s managed to, based on his success, put MORE pressure on his shoulders for this album than his debut project. Let’s see how he handles it.

1. Over My Dead Body
Produced by Noah “40” Shebib
“This sounds pretty much like what I expected” is my initial reaction as the keys play and the vocals sing you into a swaying motion. 40 has a real feel for this emotional type of music, so it’s really not a shocker here. He kicks it off to say that he killed everybody in the game last year…not sure I agree with that but did have a great year. It’s a bit of a surprise for me is to hear Drake rap about being dedicated, on top, and hungry, something that’s been questioned pretty openly by anyone that has heard him since Comeback Season. He addresses them in this song…

The backpackers are back on the bandwagon
Like this was my Comeback Season back, back in the day
And I met your baby moms last night
We took a picture together – I hope she frames it
And I was drinking at the Palms last night
And ended up losing everything that I came with
Feel like I’ve been here before huh?
I still got 10 years to go huh?
This is the only sound you should fear
These kids wear crowns over here
And everything is all right

2. Shot For Me
Produced by Noah “40” Shebib
The transition to this song is pretty seamless with 40 back behind the boards. As far as this song goes, singing “I’m the man, yeah I said it. Bitch I’m the man, don’t forget it” sounds like something Mr. Biggs would sing in a R.Kelly song. From there he goes into a story/conversation where he talks about folks being jealous and hating…meanwhile stating that he put folks on (financially or otherwise made them hot). He even goes on from there to say that folks are jealous but he opened the song basically saying that he was everything? Sounds like he’s welcoming if not, inspiring the “hate” he’s experiencing.

3. Headlines
Produced by Boi-1da & Noah “40” Shebib
I think part of the magic on this track is the way Boi-1da and 40 produce the track. That Canadian heat provides for a bounce-worthy track that still manages to be a bit understated. From the leaked tracks, this was probably my favorite so I’m happy to hear it this soon on the album and after two more “R&B” sounding tracks. At this point, I notice that lyrically, Drake is feeling pretty good about himself and he’s not afraid to let you know. I can’t blame him, dude’s hype was monumental and according to the masses, he’s still exceeding expectations. Then again, according to the poem he spits at the end, maybe he’s saying this all with a purpose?

I heard once that they would rather about memories than enemies
Rather hear about what was or what will be than what is
Rather hear about how you got it over how much it cost you
Rather hear about finding yourself than how you lost you
Rather you make this an open letter
About family and struggle and it taking forever
About hearts that you’ve broken, and ties that you’ve severed
No doubt in my mind, that’ll make them feel better.

4. Crew Love
Featuring  The Weeknd; Produced by Don McKinney & Illangelo
My initial thought on Abel ” The Weeknd” Tesfaye was that he sounds like a more talented The-Dream based on his mixtapes. I think it’s cool that Drake has him on this album, exposing him to even more people than his tweets and constant praise has. That said, this is really more like a song by The Weeknd featuring Drake. Drake doesn’t come in until about the two minute mark, drops his verse, and the song ends. I guess, like I said, this is more for exposure for The Weeknd. Drake spits about, well, crew love; His circle of supporters and friends.

5. Take Care
Featuring Rihanna; Produced by Jamie xx
We’ve had this discussion about the Euro sound in our Hip-Hop and R&B songs lately..and while this has that sound it’s a lot more authentic, polished and less contrived (undoubtedly due to the use of a London based producer). I’m not a techno/house fan by any means but the thing that I do like on songs like this and Kanye’s “All Of The Lights” is the drums. I fully expect this song to be a featured single and I’m pretty lost as to why this hasn’t happened yet, considering the success of this sound lately.

6. Marvins Room
Produced by Noah “40” Shebib
Going back to the formula we get the promo single from the album. When I heard this one, I commented that (Even with the rap) it was shaping up to be a soulections review, and not a nappyafro joint. We’ve all heard this song by now, and if you haven’t, we talked about it here. I wasn’t overly impressed or disappointed, seemed like par for the course Drake..s’cuse me, YMCMB Drake. After a few spins and hearing how open he’s being and the construction of the song both lyrically and musically, I’ve gained appreciation for it. “Fuck that nigga, that you love so bad.” I can def remember times feeling that way.

7. Burried Alive (interlude)
Featuring Kendrick Lamar
I don’t have much to say about this interlude or artist. I tried to listen to the mixtape and wasn’t feeling so after I looked to see who was on the mic for this moment that I wasn’t feeling, it wasn’t news. Remember guys, if someone doesn’t like something, doesn’t mean that it’s hating. So, allow me to resemble that remark as I got nothing against him and his success, but I’m a bit far from purchasing an album at this point.

8. Under Gound Kings
Produced by T-Minus
This may be my disdain for over-saturation talking, but this song is dope and my second favorite song on the album, ahead of the overplayed “Headlines. ” The talented T-Minus lends his hand to produce one of the best songs on the album. Drake goes  into the booth on this one and takes it back to some spitting that I feel like i haven’t heard since I first heard him rhyme. This is definitely one of the shining moments on the album.

9. Well Be Fine
Featuring Birdman; Produced by T-Minus
I’m excited to hear the track and Drake rapping again. We’ve heard the talk of this being a Hip-Hop album and him returning to rhyming, but it’s been a hybrid type music that blends both the underground and YMCMB Drake, not saying that that’s good or bad. This is another good song…we could have done without Birdman talking at the end of the track, he ain’t sayin’ shit important.

10. Make Me Proud
Featuring Nicki Minaj; Produced by T-Minus & Kromatik
The First Couple of YMCMB teams up in what I’d expect to be a big song for the album at some point. This song is pretty solid but Nicki included this terrible line, “He asked my sign, I said a Sag. I’m a star, sheriff badge.” So take that part out, this song is pretty dope. This is a very well produced track and just like the larger part of the album thus far, it’s radio ready.

11. Lord Knows
Featuring Rick Ross; Produced by Just Blaze
This song is far and away the best song on the album and one of my favorites of the year. Blaze provides an amazing beat, Drake raps with inspiration and excellence of execution and Rawse is on top of his game, one of the best verse’s I’ve heard from him. Drake, you may need to let Blaze do just one album for you because this shit was magical. There are far too many quotables to single something out.

12. Cameras/Good Ones Go (Interlude)
Produced by Lex Luger
Even for the emo-rap that is his gimmick, this one is estrogen heavy and not very good. From Lex Lugers’ wavering melodies to the subject of the song, this joint is made for a drink and a blunt. I’d rather not need a therapy session after hearing a song, so I have no reason to listen to this joint again.

13. Doing It Wrong
Featuring Stevie Wonder; Produced by Noah “40” Shebib
It’s getting hard to find different ways to discuss this pair. I mean, you know exactly what it is, you know what they do, nothing here is ground breaking. This time, instead of  talking about his heart being broken or her heart being broken, he’s talking about a failed relationship…and it’s all singing. It’s clear that he’s been working on his singing and it shows.  Steve provides the classic harmonica playing to really give it that feeling of pain. We’ve all been in at least one relationship where we stay in it just….because. Pour yourself another drink…

14. The Real Her
Featuring Lil Wayne & Andre 3000; Produced by Noah “40” Shebib
“Houstonlantavegas Part 2” would have been a good name for this one, as he references each city girl in the song. The line-up is pretty interesting. You have the face of the new movement, the self-proclaimed “best rapper alive”, and the most anticipated solo rapper since…probably ever. Looking at the names, the track isn’t what I expected, but each brought their own flavor to it..and yes, Stacks steals the show with his verse.

Shower her with dollar tips
Shawty went and bought a whip
Guarantee the city remember ya whole name
You throw that ho a scholarship
All of them ain’t all equipped
And this saddens me, I see the pecking order
Quote-unquote “bad bitches” work the whole floor
Those that get laughed at sit off in the corner
Like a lab rat nobody want her
Niggas that are married don’t wanna go home
but we look up to them, they wish they were us
They want some new trim
We lust for some trust
Now the both of us are colorblind
Cause the other side looks greener
Which leaves your turf in a Boise state
Can’t see her play or the team, cuz
Everybody has an addiction; mine happens to be you
And those who say they don’t
Souls will later on say to them “that ain’t true”
All of them will have an opinion
But y’all know what you can do with them
But if you unsure, I’ll take you on tour
To a place I can stick that in
Well, sitting here sad as hell
Listening to Adele, I feel you baby
Someone like you, more like someone unlike you
Or someone that’s familiar maybe
And I can tell that she wants a baby
And I can yell “Girl, that you’re crazy!”
Oh what the hell? Nope, can’t be lazy
Please be careful: bitches got the rabies

15. Look What You’ve Done
Produced by Chase N. Cashe
This is an emo track that I dig. The majority of the song features Drake rapping over some keys and singing that samples from a behind the scenes rehearsal footage of Smokey & the late Static Major (Both members of the R&B Playa). It gives this a real casual “exclusive” feeling, as if you got this fresh from Drake’s behind the scenes cuts. This is a really good example of his story telling ability, difference between this and a lot of his other songs is that feels more genuine than his songs about girls. This is a family affair that he shared with us this time around and Drake paints a pretty heartfelt story for someone who doesn’t have that street life background.

16. HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)
Featuring Lil Wayne; Produced by T-Minus
Well damn….Drake opens this track with is best Eminem/Busta Rhymes impression. I don’t think he takes a breath during this flow for the first 8 bars. Even this late in the album, this is still another solid song. Those of thus the really like when he’s rappin’ more than singing, this is our cut.

She asked what have I learned since getting richer
I learned working with the negatives to make for better pictures
I learned Hennessy and enemies is one hell of a mixture

Initially, I wasn’t a big fan of the hook, but the entire song rolls, no complaints here.

17. Practice
Produced by Noah “40” Shebib
So…you know those skits and YouTube videos where people sing rap songs that aren’t sung? Well, Drake, in his tribute to Cash Money decides to turn Juvenile’s “Back That Ass Up” into a ballad. I still don’t know how I feel about it. I want to laugh..and I do when he hits the hook and sings Juvi’s rhymes…but at the same time, I’m somewhat enjoying it. Who knew that bassline was that dope? I’ll say one thing for sure, you need to hear this one.

18. The Ride
Featuring The Weeknd; Produced by Doc McKinney, Illangelo
Drake ends the album to talk about his journey and the perils of stardom. From the loss of friends and those closest to you to the lavish loneliness of sitting on top of the world. There is a lot of good imagery here to end the album and keep you on edge for the next Drake project.

I haven’t been inside terminal 1 and 3 in so long
I’m driving right up to it now, make sure you got your coat on
That runway can be cold especially after summers rolled on
And all you knew is alcohol and city lights and slow songs
Performance out the years, got you asking what’s good at home
What’s good at home?
The same hoes are still at it, I shoulda known
My young niggas poppin’ m’s and sippin’ dirty jones
Problem children that all be reppin’ Octobers Own
Brand new girl, and she still growing
Brand new titties, stitches still showing
Yeah and she just praying that the heals good
I’m bout to fuck and I’m just praying that it feels good
I really don’t know much but shit I know a secret
They say more money more problems, my nigga don’t believe it
I mean sure there’s some bills and taxes I’m still evading
But I blew 6 million on my self and I feel amazing
Young money maker, season ticket holder
Season switching over
I come through them bitches still scorching as if I didn’t notice
You niggas gettin’ older, I see no threat in yoda
I’m out here messing over the lives of these niggas
That couldn’t fuck with my freshman flow ta (to)
Look at that fucking chip on your nephews shoulder
My sophomore they was all for it, they all saw it
My juniors and senior will only get meaner
Take care nigga

Let’s cut to the chase real quick, if you’re reading this review, waiting on the score, all the while you not only dislike Drakes brand of music, you’re not a fan, why bother commenting? We all know Drake doesn’t spit street shit. We all know he’s more of a emotional rapper comfortable with talking about his feelings, high or low and every stop between. So to read this review or listen to his music knowing you can’t get into his music is crazy. Now that we got that out of the way, lets get back into this album. I think saying, “If you like Drake, you’ll love this album” is all the info you may need to guide a purchase, but it’s a bit of an understatement. Where Comeback Season was one sound and Thank Me Later was another, this is probably the best hybrid of the two. I wanted to say that I didn’t like this album just on the strength of me liking my Hip-Hop to be more rap than singing but this is done well. There aren’t many moments that blow you away, but there is an abundance of good music and very few bad points. I’ll even go on record to say that Drake will win a Grammy and multiple plaques for this album and singles. There is enough Hip-Hop on here to keep people like me happy as well as music for those that are familiar with him since his YMCMB signing. He managed to not only cut an album where the next single can be picked from a hat, he proves on this album several times that he’s intelligent and driven. Take Care may be a defining moment in his career to the masses. I think even those that listen with an eye on getting more material to fuel their hate will find it hard to not like something on this album. He may very well turn hate into understanding, and those eventually into fans.