Often labelled as one of the softest rappers in the game, Drake’s sophomore effort Take Care will not do much to change that reputation. This is not necessarily a bad thing though, as Drake has found strength in his introspective tales about heartbreak, missed connections, and broken relationships. Take Care begins where Drake’s debut album Thank Me Later left off. For the most part, the music maintains a slow-tempo and dark atmospheric sound that captures the moody themes Drake reflects on. Drake’s signature rap/singing style narrates most of the stories of success and struggle, with a number of exceptional guest appearances sprinkled throughout.
Of course, there are a few tracks in Take Care that demonstrate the typical masculine bravado and arrogance commonly found in the hip-hop genre. Headlines, Underground Kings, We’ll Be Fine, Lord Knows, and HYFR are songs that have this area covered, laced with lyrics that celebrate Drake’s achievements, lavish lifestyle, and female escapades. The Just Blaze produced Lord Knows is a particular standout. Drake boasts about his greatness while sending a message to his haters, “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”. The first single Headlines also delivers a strong statement. Here Drake dwells on the ups and downs of finding wealth and fame in the music industry, but puts a focus on maintaining his position at the top of game.
However, Drake truly shines when he reveals his vulnerability and emotion in the slower, more somber songs in Take Care. This is what differentiates Drake from the rest of the rap field. He is not afraid to display his wounded soul and troubled thoughts to the masses. Rather than worrying about the “soft” label, Drake has embraced it with lyrics like “I know that showin’ emotion don’t ever mean that I’m a pussy”, and “really, I think I like what I’m becoming”. Drake’s audience can easily relate to him because of this openness. Women enjoy Drake’s music not only for his smooth sexy voice but also because they feel that he understands them. On the other hand, men listen to Drake because he touches on subjects that all men experience but are often reluctant to talk about. Every guy has grappled with regret and heartache, yet our stoicism and pride often keep these emotions locked up in the deepest, and darkest corners of our being. Highlights include the piano and synth driven title track featuring Rihanna, which explores Drake’s serious bout with oneitis, longing for that one girl no matter what she’s done in her life. Doing It Wrong with the legendary Stevie Wonder is also an exceptional track that looks at the empty relationships people suffer through in fear of being alone. Here Drake performs his best vocal performance yet, singing “we live in a generation of not being in love, and not being together/but we sure make it feel like we’re together/because we’re scared to see each other with somebody else”. And let’s not forget about Marvins Room which may just be one of the best songs of the year.
As mentioned previously, Take Care also includes some excellent guest stars. Drake’s protege, The Weeknd, completes the OVO-XO connection in Crew Love and The Ride. Abel’s high-pitched vocals blend seamlessly with Drake’s delivery, reinforcing the fact that these two artists were meant to work together. Featured verses by Kendrick Lamar and Andre 3000 are also quite memorable. Both men capture the essence of Take Care‘s introspective themes. Andre raps about yearning for a committed loving relationship, while Kendrick pretty much summarizes the trappings of fame at the end of Buried Alive rapping “you belong to the people when you outside/so dig a shovel full of money, full of power, full of pussy, full of fame/and bury yourself alive, then I died”.
Overall, Drake’s second full release does not disappoint. Drake claims to have titled this album Take Care because he wanted to take his time recording it until he was fully satisfied with the final product. Clearly, his effort, along with his emotions, seep through his latest work. With great production values, deep storytelling, stunning guest performances, plus a mixture of rap/r&b sounds, Take Care is one album that is destined to have a long shelf life and is easily in the running for album of the year.
1. Over My Dead Body
2. Take A Shot For Me
4. Crew Love (feat. The Weeknd)
5. Take Care (feat. Rihanna)
6. Marvins Room
7. Buried Alive (Interlude) (feat. Kendrick Lamar)
8. Underground Kings
9. We’ll Be Fine
10. Make Me Proud (feat. Nicki Minaj)
11. Lord Knows (feat. Rick Ross
12. Cameras/Good Ones Go Interlude
13. Doing It Wrong (feat. Stevie Wonder)
14. The Real Her (feat. Lil’ Wayne & Andre 3000)
15. Look What You’ve Done
16. HYFR (Hell Yeah Fucking Right) (feat. Lil’ Wayne)
18. The Ride (feat. The Weeknd)
19. The Motto (feat. Lil’ Wayne)
20. I Hate Sleeping Alone
Over My Dead Body, Crew Love, Take Care, Marvins Room, Buried Alive, Lord Knows, Doing It Wrong, The Real Her