Drake’s “Take Care”: A Review

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A Modern Midas: Drake broods over his newfound riches on the cover of “Take Care”

Ned Hardy, Web A&E Editor

I could start this review by writing about a number of different things.

I could write about Drake’s posse, the OVOXO “clique,” which now includes the mysterious R&B crooner known as The Weeknd (no, that is not a typo). I could write about Drake’s rumored relationship with tennis superstar Serena Williams. I could even write about Drake’s subtle drifting apart from the loud and arrogant ensemble of musicians that is known as Young Money.

However, I’m not going to do any of the above. This is a review of an album called Take Care by a Canadian rapper named Drake. Let’s begin.

Take Care is, without a doubt, one of the best albums that I have ever listened to. I know that I throw that superlative around quite a bit, but this album truly deserves the praise. About two years ago, I thought that Drake’s first album, Thank Me Later, was a masterpiece. Take Care is an ethereal album that cannot be compared to much else.

Lyrically, Take Care centers around money, fame, and love. Yet the album mostly touches upon the darker sides of such things: loneliness, failed relationships, pornography, addictions to cough syrup, family issues, and the lives of strippers, to name just a few.

Drake sticks close to home throughout much of Take Care, opening songs with artists like Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk and interspersing breathless bars with serenaders such as Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd. That being said, Drake still finds ample space on the album for close (and wildly famous) musicians like past-crush Rihanna, mentor Lil Wayne, and best friend Nicki Minaj.

There are certainly some bizarre moments in Take Care. These include, but are not limited to: Stevie Wonder playing a harmonica outro on “Doing It Wrong,” Drake’s ode to a stripper on his remake of Juvenile’s 1999 hit “Back Dat Azz Up” via the song “Practice,” and the fact that Drake does not even appear on an interlude called “Buried Alive,” which is instead performed by Kendrick Lamar.

It cannot be denied that none of the music on Take Care is wildly experimental. Drake went for the mandatory Just Blaze-produced gospel beat on “Lord Knows,” one of the album’s standout songs. Rick Ross drops by to make deep noises in his throat and says “Boss!” every so often. Lil Wayne talks about women in a sickly-sweet, syrup-laden voice on at least three songs. Nicki Minaj, as usual, slays the competition on “Make Me Proud.” There are tons of beats made by Drake’s producer, Noah Shebib (also known as 40), as simultaneously muted and gorgeous as ever.

One of my favorite aspects of Take Care is the seamless way that Drake and 40 transport the listener from song to song. Towards the end of “Shot for Me,” the listener can hear the muffled beat of the next song, “Headlines” building in the background. Suddenly, “Shot for Me” ends and “Headlines” begins, taking the suppressed beat and bringing it to a far higher volume level. The transition is smooth, clever, and altogether exhilarating.

“Marvin’s Room,” perhaps the most revealing of all of the songs on Take Care, opens with a one-sided phone conversation. The listener hears the distorted voice of a woman answering questions about the clubs she went to earlier that evening and reluctantly inviting the caller over for a drink. Suddenly, Drake drops in, singing about the quantity of alcohol that he has consumed over the course of the night and the fact that he can’t seem to find the right woman. The right woman at the bar in which Drake has posted himself for the night? Perhaps, but it seems more likely that Drake’s loneliness is slightly more broad.

Our mysterious female friend returns for the chorus of the song, countering Drake’s claims that her boyfriend is not right for her by repeatedly asking the rapper, “Are you drunk right now?” Drake responds: “I’m just saying, you could do better/Tell me, have you heard that lately?” It’s obviously rude of him to do such a thing, yet the listener can do nothing but sympathize with Drake as his tears fall into a glass of whiskey.

Take Care is pleasantly confusing. The listener wants Drake to find someone “real” to love, yet Drake is constantly asking, “What’s wrong with strippers?” and then the listener feels ashamed and runs off to wallow in self-pity with Drake himself. It’s agonizing and delightful and illuminating, all at the same time.

Drake’s first album, Thank Me Later, dealt with a subject matter largely revolving around Drake lamenting his sudden wealth and fame. On Take Care, however, Drake appears to be content with where he is. He’s wealthy, he’s famous, and people love him — but none of it is a shock to Drake anymore. Take Care is boastful yet refined, extravagant yet modest. It is an album that should not work, yet somehow does: a paradoxical masterpiece.