Take Care by Drake comes out November 15th. I got a review copy *cough* here's my listen-thru/critique.
They say the first track sets the mood of the album you're listening to right? Truth be told, this first track is MAD soft. I'm talking slow piano chords, distant drums, and a high pitched man/woman singing a echo-y hook. I'll say this for it, though. It works. I can't hate on it because its soft. That'd be like me being mad at Charmin. It's supposed to be soft. I don't think rap has to be hard all the time. And apparently neither does Drake. The song's sufficiently complex, and has a real strong "layer" effect with the way the sound hits. Drake's rapping is...well...Drake's rapping. Highlight of the track: Drake singing "Oh you wanna be a funny guy?" Then rapping "Don't make me break your Kevin Hart." I'm feeling the semi-breakdown at the end as well.
The next track, Shot For Me is baby skin. Pure and simple. Completely soft. This track STARTS off with Drake singing. I'm starting to notice something about Drake. And take this how you want to, but I've noticed that Drake's singing in itself isn't horrible. What kills it for me is the "flourish" he adds in between. Like if you can't sing, don't try to be impressive with it. Autotune doesn't make up for your lack of natural singing abilities. You're not Adele, Christina Aguilera, or even just some fat black chick in the church choir. Chill with all that oooohing and aaahing. That's completely unnecessary. It literally kills this whole song. I do like the 80's style synths and the breakdown, although I could live without Drake's DMX spoken prayer, or whatever that was supposed to be at the end.
Headlines starts off with the dopest synth of all time. I love the synth in this song. It feels ripped straight from 80's. Drake of course is rapping/singing but he's doing it relatively well. I'm not mad at him for this song. I could however, live without him singing "they know they know they know" at EVERY opportunity on this hook. Double props to his verses on this. Drake sounds like HIM. I wanna dap him up for doing his own thing and not trying to ape someone else's style. But then I hear the DMX ape-ing at the end of this song, and I immmediately change my mind.
Crew Love. My initial reaction to this is frustration with the drum hits and NO actual drums. Where are the drums at? And of course, the Weeknd is here, singing in an echo chamber of dreams. But seriously, can I get some drums please? On a side note, the Weeknd's lyrics are mad hard for someone to be singing. I mean...for real? The drums hit when Drake starts rapping. Completely alleviates my frustration. The best part of this song is how well it all FITS together. It's like a really good ambient trance/trip-hop mashup with the Weeknd singing "they loving the crew" over and over again. Which by the way, is right on the threshold of annoying. So is this repeating the drum/cymbal hit. But it never goes over the threshold. That song felt a little too short though. I would have liked a breakdown.
And here's the first song I can't co-sign. Take Care with Rihanna is just too house for me. This whole dancehall beat with a house piano riff echoing all hauntingly ain't for me AT all. Couple that with Drake singing more than Rihanna and I'm ready to check out completely. Shout out to the bass line for being at least 20 years old. Same to the four on the floor beat they're trying to disguise with syncopated drums. I'm struggling to get past the music of this album. And this breakdown is a crime against all humanity. What R&B song just got bastardized/sodomized? Rihanna says she's loved and she's lost in this song. I don't know who she loved, but she's definitely lost with this one.
Marvin's Room/Buried Alive. What can I say that hasn't already been said about this joint? This is not a good song. Drake has never seen a relationship where the woman DIDN'T walk out. Also Drake, even if a woman is with a dude that's AMAZING, I'm pretty sure he's not going to tell her she can do better than him. I mean, unless he has some issues with self-esteem. Then she probably CAN do better. I don't know how I feel about Drake's homewrecking skills. If you lose your woman to Drake, she would've left you for a self-warming Snuggy. Even the Snuggle bear might have given you a run for your money.
Underground Kings starts off with a super dope guitar sample. When the drums drop in and Drake starts rapping, I'm sold. However, I need Drake to rap about something OTHER than hitting on girls with and without boyfriends. I mean, Drake may never have been part of the struggle, but life ain't all just ladies and more ladies right? The most he ever says that makes you think he cares about anything other than women is...uh...well...yeah I got nothing. I'm not crazy impressed with WHAT he's saying, but flow, beat, samples, and all the other things necessary for this to play well in the car is present. The UGK sample is an excellent tip of the hat.
This next track starts off kinda ambient til the drums drop, which is getting to be a trend with this album. But when the drums drop, LAWD. We'll Be Fine goes hard...for this album. But without fail, Drake sings his way back to soft. Though I don't hate this distorted autotuned hook, in fact, I'm curious as to what filter he used to get it there. Add in what I swear is ambient noise barely audible in the background, and this track feels kind of amazing. Drake is still doing his rap/sing thizzle, and yes, he's still talking about the ladies. So apparently, that's Drake's world. The layering of the sounds on this is mad complex though. I can't even pick out all the samples populating the hook. It turns into a rich tapestry...what? I've been listening to Drake.
Can I admit that despite all her ghetto craziness, I like Nikki Minaj for more than her "assets"? This track Make Me Proud with her starts off kinda uninspired, but as it keeps rolling, the ongoing ambient background saves a pretty standard drum beat. And then Nikki comes in with a rap after which she does her Drake impression and starts singing the hook or whatever this is supposed to be. I was listening thinking, that she wasn't doing the hashtag line thing (that's when you say something, and then to make it clever you say something else, like, My shots'll make you jump man, Jordan) but then she dropped the Dolly Parton line in parting (HA!), and well...so much for that. Also I want to point out that Drake is still just talking about women on this one.
Oh this choir feels SO Rick Ross, and that is not a diss. This choir sample is getting it done for me, especially when they start running it through a couple filters, and I swear I hear a familiar piano sample (shout out to Kanye and Common's The Food). Rick Ross grunts like six times before his verse even hits. Is he just sitting in the studio watching Drake spit and cosigning him with the grunt? I can't hate though because this song is the hardest track so far. I don't know how I feel about the track almost overpowering Drake on parts. I mean, I love the music on this track, but when Rick Ross starts spitting, the track eases back so we can hear every word. Is that what it means to be the boss? (UNNHH!) All joking aside, this song is mad enjoyable, even the synth solo at the end. It feels like a Kanye beat that someone bought from the Chinese vendors on the corner. Like this beat has Kayne on the logo.(unless this is an actual beat from Kanye. Then this make sense) But again, that's not me dissing it.
Drake is back to talking about the ladies on Cameras, and how he's into them, and monogamy, unless someone else is dating her. Then forget that dude, he ain't telling you that you could do better. The hook is literally a re-purposed R&B song. If I hadn't just heard that previous track, I would be prepared for this. But I got caught up in the sheer gangsta that was the last track. And now I can't reconcile this track. I mean, you can't show me a flash of legitimate manliness and then go back to talking about "mail me my ring back". Oh and Drake, you ain't getting that ring back, playa.
I love Stevie Wonder, I saw him open up for Jay-Z in 2010, and I gotta be real, that moment will show up every time my life flashes before my eyes. When I saw Doing it Wrong ft. Stevie Wonder on the track list, I got kind of hyped. But then I started listening to the song. This feels like an attempt to do what the early songs did right. This is too ambient, and these monotonous background chords that are supposed to pull the song together ain't working. Add in Drake talking about the ladies and relationships YET again and it really ain't cutting it. And you get Stevie on a track and all he does is play harmonica? Please tell me he at least played the synth a little? And this harmonica solo? Its SAD. Not that it's not well played, I'm talking sad as in, I should be crying in the shower listening to this song. Actually if this were the background track of a movie scene where a guy just got dumped, found out his dog died, and is homeless, this song would be perfect as the lead up to the dude just collapsing in tears from sheer helplessness and despair.
Next is the Real Her featuring Lil Wayne and Andre 3000. We're still crying about chicks apparently. The beat doesn't hide the softness. At all. What is Drake even talking about? Did he get his heart broke again? Does he not learn? And this Lil Wayne verse? Why did the drums drop out, change, and then come back to the first pattern? You can tell that threw Wayne off. They tried to throw Andre off the same way, but that dude can actually spit, so they couldn't shake him with this track. He redeems this entirely. Because without his rap, this whole song is sunk. Also is Andre trying to give Adele a baby? Did I hear that right? No?
This next track is better. Thank you for stopping with the sadness. HYFR could be harder, though. Also that piano chord that sounds like a phone that's been left off the hook (you super young cats won't get that) has me feeling like hanging up on this song. Drake redeems this with his flow. Lil Wayne too. He's actually kinda shining on this track. I kinda hate when he start double-timing his flow, though. Just doesn't match his voice. Add that to his breath control trying to maintain it being just a bit below par, and that equals meh. But overall this track is decent. I don't think I'ma write home about it or nothing.
Another muted piano starting off Look What You've Done? Really Drake? What is this? I'm feeling the flow over the piano by itself, but on this album? I'm literally tired. I just want to lay down and give up. I wasn't sure if that was lay or lie, and I didn't even bother looking it up. Oh wait, I see what you did there. You bring in the drums when you're NOT rapping this time. That's mad different, Drake. What are you talking about in this rap again? What's that? A woman who loved you so that you could love yourself? Sigh. At least I can't say this album doesn't have a theme.
Last track of the album is Practice, and I couldn't be more ready. This track has to bang right? I mean, is it too much to ask that it be the hardest track Drake has ever done, or at least the hardest on this album? It starts off with a really familiar sample...something I've heard before...and I can't really...wait...is that...NO that's not...yeah that's a Juvenile track slowed down. And then the hook hits. And Drake actually raps the verse from Back That Thang Up. Ever heard a dude try to sound like he's from somewhere he's not? No? Then listen to this track. How did you take the most misogynistic club track in recent memory and make it this soft? Drake took this track from the club to the chapel. Oh and Drake? No one's going to "drop it" to this quiet storm remix. This whole track feels like a throwaway. I could live without it. Though shout out to the super-quiet guitar solo, and the 80's synth hiding behind the sample.
Overall this album has a couple of hits on it, and when it's right, it's REALLY right. But when it misses, it's horrible. Overall I'd say this album is decent though. I feel like this wasn't made for me. Like the ladies will love it, and as long as you got your hand near the skip button, you can come to appreciate it. If you really want to impress your lady, throw this in a bag with some flowers and chocolate and watch her be amazed at how sensitive you are. Yeah...it's that kind of album.
I give this three and a quarter of whatever symbol you prefer outta five.