Standout Tracks: Marvin’s Room, HYFR, Over My Dead Body and Lord Knows
“I think I killed everybody in the game last year, man….”
Drizzy asserts on the opening of his sophomore album, and he certainly did. From 2010 onwards he provided us with hits such as Over, Miss Me, Fancy and critically acclaimed on features such as summer smash I’m On One, Moment 4 life. So the question is with Take Care did he kill everyone again this time?
To some Drake fans, Take Care is wrongly labelled as a second album. To them its his first album, because it wasn’t rushed like Thank Me Later. This album was eagerly anticipated by the Drizzy die hards because this time Drake had full creative control. Drake himself said it was called Take Care because “Once it was done, it was done. That’s why my new album is called Take Care because I get to take my time this go-round.”
Drake certainly took his time on the album, you can see the effort put in by the magnificent production throughout. Drake didn’t take his time on album for the listener though; he took his time on the album for him. Take Care unlike Thank Me Later isn’t an album made to gain a fan base, it’s an album made for Drake and his cronies to enjoy. With this album Drake makes his own mark on the hip hop scene and sets himself apart. He is not preoccupied with punchlines, selling a dream of luxury to his listeners ala Rozay he wants to tell his story in a confessional but clumsy way. The album seems to follow the tone of the first release from Take Care – Marvin’s Room. The thing is most of the tracks posses that element of drunken confession, but they don’t all catch it as perfectly as Marvin’s Room.
With the opening track Over My Dead Body, Drake fools the listener into thinking the album is going to be a familiar territory of wordplay and boasting; “Oh well, I guess you lose some and win some, Long as the outcome is income”
Reading between the lines Drake sets the tone for the bumpy ride ahead, this is Drake establishing his identity in the rap game. Drake addresses his critics ‘Are these people really discussing my career again? Asking if I’ll be going platinum in a year again?’ It’s easy to understand why Drake feels a need to prove himself, he’s not a typical rapper. Having grown up in a middle class neighbourhood to a Jewish mother. Drake is already different. Drake is often criticised for being ‘soft’ due to his nature for having songs dealing with every type of heartbreak. Drake is an expert and master of capturing the mood of being heartbroken. A perfect example of this is the excellent Marvin’s Room.
Marvin’s Room one of the best songs released in 2011 because it effortlessly captured the drunken moment of calling an ex. A testament to the song’s greatness is the fact it was remixed over umpteen times but none of the remixes did any justice to the original. Personally I preferred the YouTube version to the CD version as the fuzziness and incoherence set the tone for a drunken confession. As Drake sings ‘Fuck that nigga that you love so bad, I know you still think about the times we had’ which was every angry exes bbm status for around three months, he shows his greatness. The honesty in his lyrics and the development of his asshole attitude are the great moments in Take Care. Drake says what we all want to say exes, the only sugar coating he does is with his soft voice that’s why the song struck a chord with so many and many artists aimed to have the same effect by covering it – but failed.
Whereas Drake’s asshole attitude is engaging he doesn’t manage quite to do this with Shot For Me. Although the hook is catchy and melodic, the lyrics strike me as unnecessarily arrogant. ‘First I made you who you are, then I made it, And you’re wasted with your ladies, Yeah I’m the reason why you always getting faded’ It’s a bit like an unsuccessful attempt at mimicking Kanye’s ‘Yeezy Taught Me’. Drake doesn’t possess Kanye West’s IDGAF attitude and can’t carry it off because we all know he’s too emotional to be that much of a bastard. Although this track can be perceived as confessional due to mentioning of ex girlfriends, there is something dishonest and a bit contrived of the bastard attitude Drake is trying to hard to portray. In Marvin’s Room the hook doesn’t come across as forced whilst the hook does in Shot For Me.
Another problem with Take Care is the overall pace of the album, the tracks are all slow bar Lord Knows and HYFR. The slowness of the pace prevents the album from being engaging and it can come across as if Drake made this album for himself and for his ex girlfriends to hear. There isn’t a lot of thought about the listener so he definitely didn’t take care of the listener at all.
Speaking of Lord Knows on first listening of the album it is the standout track. It stand outs for both good and bad reasons for Drake. With just a grunt Rozay already lifts the mood and the tone of the album. The beat is a masterpiece, Just Blaze’s production is pure perfection. Rozay changes the atmosphere and sprinkles his Teflon Don magic all over the track. It’s easy to like the track purely for the instrumental, but closer inspection Drake is shown up on his own song by featured artist Rick Ross. Whereas Drizzy uses this song to prove his doubters wrong, he comes off a bit insecure and drowned out at times by the powerful production whilst Rick Ross sits perfectly on the track. It’s almost as if the track was made just for him and accidentally given to Drake. Drake uses his verse to prove himself whilst Rick Ross uses his verse to boast about his luxuries as he does ever so well. Drake uses his verse to confront his critics ‘I know of all the things that I hear they be poking fun at, Never the flow though, they know I run that Fuck you all, I claim that whenever’ And its true, you can mock Drake for his unusual penchant for wearing granddad sweaters, finding love with strippers, being a former soap opera actor but you can’t mock his flow. Drake’s ‘one word punchline’ that has apparently been bitten by Big Sean, Ludacris etc. who he also addresses and other apparent copycats ‘A lot of niggas came up off of a style that I made up, But if all I hear is me, then who should I be afraid of?’ He’s not lying either. On Lord Knows Drake delivers the most important lyric on the album ‘I’m hearing all of the jokes, I know that they tryna push me,I know that showin’ emotion don’t ever mean I’m a pussy’ This lyric is important because it shows Drake being proud to be the emotional guy of hip hop and where to some it means he’s a pussy because he’s vocal about his heartbreak he reminds critics ‘Know that I don’t make music for niggas who don’t get pussy, So those are the ones I count on to diss me or overlook me’. Basically Drake isn’t a pussy he’s getting laid and with that comes the misfortune of heartbreak and you can only relate to that if you have relationships.
Whereas Drake ups the ante with Lord Knows he slows it down again as it is followed by the tedious mistake that is Make Me Proud. In fact one of the standout tracks on the album and the very few that are excellent on first listen is sandwiched by two of the worst songs on the album Cameras and Make Me Proud. Make Me Proud is one of the very few Drake songs with a bad hook ‘Um so, Um so proud of you’ Its laughable, and its dull. This and Cameras should have been replaced with Free Spirit and Dreams Money Can Buy. Minaj’s contribution makes the song even worse and she clumsily uses Drake’s ‘supa dupa flow’ to produce this weak punchline ‘I’m a star: sheriff badge’. The only good thing about Make Me Proud in Drake’s case is that it’s the only feature on which he isn’t shown up on which can’t be said about Lord Knows, The Real Her and HYFR (Hell Ya Fuckin’ Right). The Real Her is only good due to Andre 3000’s impeccable verse. His verse catches the bored listen off guard after enduring a plodding Drake verse and a slightly cheeky Tunechi verse. Andre 3000 steals the show with his southern twang and Someone Like You reference. Lil Wayne makes up for his lazy recycling of Miss Me lyrics by stealing the show on HYFR (Hell Ya Fuckin’ Right). His hook and bridge is infectious and mischievous, his verse outshines Drake’s competent effort. One of the few songs on the album that is enjoyable on the first listen.
Overall,Take Care is not a bad album – far from. It becomes a good album the more times you listen to it. Unfortunately not everyone will have that time, and it might end up being wrongly dismissed as a sophomore slump due to the lack of catchiness, punchlines and ‘bangers’. Drake is unfortunately outshone by the features, and the best tracks are the features bar Marvin’s Room. I hope for his next album, Drake varies the pace and the themes so it can be an easier listen. There’s nothing wrong with songs being growers, but a whole album shouldn’t be filled of growers. Drake’s album doesn’tneed to be filled with growers because he is talented enough to make classics. Drake needs to make sure his songs have more presence, and when they do it should be down to him and not guest artists. I don’t find Drake’s fondness for talking about his exes ‘soppy’ I just assume that him rapping about this constantly is not easy on the listener. As opposed to rappers like Rick Ross and Jay-Z, Drake isn’t trying to sell his listeners a dream of wealth he is more concerned with reminding them about his romantic inabilities and failures this isn’t bad music but it just isn’t always enjoyable to listen to. Drake needs to learn that the key mistake from this album is that as a global star he makes music for others to listen to, not only for him. By doing that it doesn’t mean he will compromise his credibility he already is the ‘ginger kid’ of hip-hop due to his oddness but he is needed and loved in the game.