By Anna Kharuchas
Released: November 15, 2011
Label: Young Money/Cash Money, Universal Republic
Best Tracks: Marvin’s Room, Take Care, The Real Her, HYFR
On his sophomore album, Take Care, Canadian recording artist Aubrey ‘Drake’ Graham expands on the same sound that has propelled him to fame. Initially playing second fiddle to mentor Lil Wayne, Drake
finally steps up on this solid record and makes a strong claim for the role of MVP in the Young Money camp.
The album features frequent collaborators, Noah ’40’ Shebib (Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys) and Boi-1da (Eminem, G-Unit), who compliment Drake’s relative dark themes with ambient and moody production. The production is rich and spacious garnering the opportunity for Drake’s self-reflective lyrics to take the forefront. The album never falls prone to over production, as is the case with many of 2011’s hip hop albums (Watch The Throne anybody?). The ever presence of Shebib, contrary to his debut Thank Me Later, makes for a more rounded and developed sound.
Drake’s album sleeve (a more profound interpretation of the sleeve can be found on Pitchfork
) gives a sense of the themes that are explored lyrically on Take Care: love, fame, nostalgia. He reflects on past loves on “Shot For Me”, has trouble adjusting to fame and simultaneously boasting about it on “Headlines” and reminisces about the past on “Look What You Have Done”.
Although these themes are similar to those on albums such as Kanye West’s 808’s and Heartbreak
and Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
, Drake has made this ‘basking in my own depression’ movement his own through his interchangeable rapping and crooning emotional-playboy delivery. As soon as you think he is a douche bag (And you’re wasted with your ladies/Yeah I’m the reason why you always getting faded)
he delivers lines that are marinated in raw emotion (Girl I can’t lie: I miss you / You and the music were the only things that I commit to).
Take Care incorporates genres such as R&B, pop and electronica. The latter is evident in the Jamie xx produced and Rihanna featured title track. This dancehall tinged anthem is a crossover hit that is poised to be big on the dance scene but yet still presents a sense of class unlike so many other dance hits. Another jewel is the Andre 3000 and Lil Wayne assisted “The Real Her”, although Drake’s own contribution to the song is overshadowed by the brilliance of the other two more experienced MC’s In “Marvin’s Room” Drake hits the pinnacle of his powers: pissed off, vulnerable and revealing. (I see all of her friends here/ Guess she don’t have the time to kick it no more/ Flights in the morning/ What you doing that’s so important?
At 18 tracks the album is lengthy. This benefits the album, makes it more cohesive in narrative, but also results in the inclusion of lacklustre tracks that contradict the growth that Drake has shown in the majority of tracks on the album. (The Ride, Cameras / Good Ones Go Interlude).
Take Care is a progression of Drake’s artistry in the right direction. Cohesive and diverse, it is the most exciting Young Money contribution since Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III. Although it is by no means perfect it is by a fair margin hip hops best buy in 2011.
Official Video of “Take Care” single