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Drake, ‘Take Care’ – Album Review

Drake Take CareExpectations are high for Drake‘s sophomore album, and he’s up to the challenge on ‘Take Care,’ which officially drops next Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Just as he predicted, the album leaked online before its scheduled release, but the rapper said he’s fine with that.

“I look forward to leaks — knock on wood. I shouldn’t probably, but I do. If it’s a reasonable leak, I look forward to it … And that’s something I’d be extremely excited about because I feel like if people get the opportunity to live with the music for a week before they go buy it, it’s only gonna help me, not hurt me.”

Drake helped build up buzz for the album by personally releasing a handful of tracks over the past few months. ‘Take Care’ features guest appearances from a number of other stars, including Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross.

1. ‘Over My Dead Body’
Everyone wants to know if Drake can match the success of his debut album, so he smartly addresses the topic on the album’s opening track. He asks, “Are these people really discussing my career again? / Asking if I’ll be going platinum in a year again? / Don’t I got the sh– the world wanna hear again?” Based on his clever rhymes like, “Shout out to the Asian girls / Let the lights dim sum,” it seems the answer to that last question is yes.

2. ‘Shot for Me’
‘Shot for Me’ is a sweet lullaby for an ex who Drake still loves, even though she didn’t believe that he was really faithful to her. Drake offers his support and tells her to take a shot for him. He ends with the spoken-word message, “May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, angels protect you, and Heaven accept you.

3. ‘Headlines’
‘Headlines’ isn’t the best song on ‘Take Care,’ as Drake himself even acknowledges. But its stuttering synth lines and defiant tone make it appealing, as he declares, “I might be too strung out on compliments / Overdose on confidence.” [Listen Here]

4. ‘Crew Love’ Feat. The Weeknd
You can probably expect any track involving the Weeknd to have an experimental quality, and that’s true of ‘Crew Love,’ which packs R&B crooning, rapid-fire drum flourishes, quiet piano sections, and computerized vocal effects into one song. Drake doesn’t even appear until the two-minute mark, making him just a complementary piece on one of the album’s better tracks.

5. ‘Take Care’ Feat. Rihanna
Produced by Jamie of English indie rock band The xx, the title track is a somber piano-driven song in which Drake and Rihanna comfort each other as they relay the details of failed past relationships. It’s a nice low-key change of pace. [Listen Here]

6. ‘Marvin’s Room / Buried Alive Interlude’
One of the finest hip-hop songs of 2011, ‘Marvin’s Room’  shows off Drake’s storytelling ability. He paints the picture of being wasted at a bar, missing an old flame. The hazy, subdued beat matches his state of mind as he calls and begs to hook up with her, even though she has a new man. ‘Marvin’s Room’ is a brilliant piece of art. [Listen Here]

7. ‘Underground Kings’
‘Underground Kings’ features one of Drake’s most fast-paced and creative flows on the album. “It’s been two years since somebody asked me who I was,” he spits, reflecting on his rise to fame. He also provides insight into what he’s looking for when it comes to the opposite sex: “Sometimes I need that romance, sometimes I need that pole dance.

8. ‘We’ll Be Fine’ Feat. Birdman
On ‘We’ll Be Fine,’ Drake raps that he’s willing to get with girls as long as they understand they’re not the only ones after him. It’s not new lyrical content for Drake, but the rock-edged production, featuring a pumped-up distorted vocal hook, makes the song worthwhile.

9. ‘Make Me Proud’ Feat. Nicki Minaj
‘Moment 4 Life’ collaborators Drake and Minaj reunite for this bouncy jam in which they take turns offering flirtatious lyrics. They performed the song together on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ [Listen Here]

10. ‘Lord Knows’ Feat. Rick Ross
‘Lord Knows’ is perhaps the most epic-sounding track on the album, with active drums and operatic female backing vocals behind a hard-hitting beat and production from Just Blaze. Not to mention a verse from Rick Ross that is both self-deprecating and boastful: “Villa on the water with the wonderful views / Only fat n—- in the sauna with jewels / Went and got a yacht, I’m talkin’ Carnival cruise.

11. ‘Cameras / Good Ones Go’
Drake lifts heavily from Jon B.’s 2001 song ‘Calling on You’ in ‘Cameras,’ sampling both the intro music and the hook. His new song doesn’t significantly improve on the Jon B. tune, but the second portion of the track, ‘Good Ones Go,’ impresses with a super-slow pace and haunting vibe.

12. ‘Doing It Wrong’ Feat. Stevie Wonder
When you team up with a legend like Stevie Wonder, you have to embrace your soulful side. Drake does just that on the ballad ‘Doing It Wrong.’ “We live in a generation of / Not being in love / Not being together,” he croons. Stevie doesn’t actually sing but instead adds a gorgeous harmonica solo. Harmonica on a hip-hop album! Now that’s cool.

13. ‘The Real Her’ Feat. Lil Wayne & Andre 3000
Drake is the piano man on ‘The Real Her,’ another slow jam. Andre 3000 takes the spotlight here with his verse about being colorblind like Boise State football turf and being so heartbroken that he’s listening to Adele‘s ‘Someone Like You’ for comfort.

14. ‘HYFR (Hell Ya F—in Right)’ Feat. Lil Wayne
“All my exes live in Texas like George Strait,” Drake raps, letting the world know he’s knowledgeable about all genres of music. With drums and looping synths, this T-Minus production is one of the more musically vibrant tracks on the record, even if it does end a bit suddenly. Another Weezy verse might have put this one over the top.

15. ‘Look What You’ve Done’
By track 15, ‘Take Care’ is threatening to turn into an Adele record. ‘Look What You’ve Done’ is the third sensitive ballad among the last four songs. After the impressive slow songs that preceded it, this track doesn’t stand out. It might have been a good choice to leave off the album.

16. ‘Practice’
Drake borrows the entire chorus from Juvenile’s ‘Back That A— Up’ for this song in which he tells a woman that other the other guys she had in the past were just practice for him. Even the synths sound like they were pulled from the Juvenile track. As ‘Practice’ feels a little too derivative, it’s not one of our favorites.

17. ‘The Ride’ Feat. The Weeknd
The Weeknd’s second appearance on the album, ‘The Ride’ establishes a cool R&B vibe with its backing instrumentation and vocals. Drake tries to explain what it’s like to be him, rapping about buying shots for his homies, being careless with his riches, and sleeping with girls who don’t love him.

Bonus Tracks:

18. ‘Hate Sleeping Alone’
‘Hate Sleeping Alone’ is similar to ‘Marvin’s Room’ in that Drake is desperate to find someone to take home. He sings, “I say I’d rather be with you but you are not around / So I’mma call somebody up and see if they be down / Cause I hate sleeping alone, I hate sleeping alone.

19. ‘The Motto’ Feat. Lil Wayne
On the lighthearted ‘The Motto,’ Weezy and Drizzy trade boasts over a simple backing track of programmed drum beats. “25 sittin’ on 25 mil,” Drake raps, while Wayne tosses in the ‘Baby Got Back’ reference, “Oh my God, Becky, look at her butt.” ‘The Motto’ is a fun way to finish off a solid record. [Listen Here]

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