Drake Take Care

November 15, 2011 by staff 

Drake Take Care, To think that after his 2010 mega-selling studio debut, Thank Me Later, Drake would opt to retreat further into his alone-on-his-throne world reveals what might be the Toronto rapper/singer’s greatest strength: He knows exactly what his strengths and weaknesses are.

Drake is a great executive producer, and his sophomore album, Take Care, feels like an artist exploring a very specific vision to find out just how far it can be taken.

Take Care takes the best parts of Thank Me Later — its cavernous empty spaces and slow-burning beats, its towering hooks that swallowed up entire neighbourhoods, Drake’s surprisingly affective croon and now-not-so-surprising knack for earworm melodies — and dives further into them, attempting to wring even more pathos from brittle synth washes and 808 drums, write even stickier hooks and work on that stiff flow of his.

If anything, Take Care is a masterpiece in creating a cohesive yet abstract sound, the kind that was initially charted on Kanye West’s 2009 disc 808s & Heartbreak. What Drake knows how to do is combine these non-beat kind of beats, in which things are often implied more than explicitly stated, and make them work in a pop context, replete with hooks so massive, they have their own gravitational pulls.

Still, it’s strange and wonderful to hear something like Drake’s current single, “Make Me Proud,” on the radio, with its hiccupping wormhole synths that spin around at disorienting speeds. “Headlines” is less avant-garde, but no less unusual, especially for a lead single, its subdued triumph a stark contrast to the maximalist bombast of “It’s Over,” which introduced Thank Me Later last year. Nothing sounds like Take Care and its soaring empty spaces, delicate and fraying synthesizers, and often drum-less blankets of digital washes, and sounding like no one else is not an easy feat in this day and age.

But it would all be for nought were Drake not an empathetic character, someone listeners could relate to and Take Care foregrounds his concern for the emotional needs of others — in particular, women, naturally — and this time around, his R&B songs are even more conflicted.

There’s a lot of talk about “saving” girls, but in a self-aware manner that makes it clear that it’s Drake who really needs saving. Otherwise, “then who will I complain to?” as he asks on “The Real Her,” a ball of melting metals and luxurious melodies.

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