Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

With ‘Take Care’ Drake embraces maturity, darkness

Posted on November 10, 2011 in Album Reviews
By Nick Capeless

Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Republic

Since his switch from actor to musician in 2006, Canadian star Drake has been able to find a solid balance between both his hip-hop and R&B tendencies. On his 2010 debut, Thank Me Later, Drake strived to create a more pop-friendly hip-hop sound intertwined with plenty of soulful production and seductively low vocals. With his sophomore follow-up Take Care, Drake seems to have fully embraced the R&B side of his music, decreasing his hip-hop influence in favor of making his singing a more prominent fixture throughout.

Even beyond that, Take Care is a pretty drastic departure from its predecessor, and it’s a good thing, too. The overly-catchy pop songs that Drake essentially gained his fame from are almost entirely absent. Instead, Take Care is filled with slow-burning R&B tracks of love, loss and subsequent alcohol abuse. Album standout “Marvins Room” tells the story of Drake trying to accept that an ex is now with another man, and his tendency to forget his problems by drinking heavily. Over a quiet, piano-lead beat, Drake reflects on a drunk dial to his former lover: “I was just calling ‘cause they were just leaving/Talk to me please, don’t have much to believe in/I need you right now, are you down to listen to me?/Too many drinks have been given to me.”

Take Care’s ominous themes are essentially what drives the album and keeps it fresh compared to most of Drake’s previous work. Yet here are outliers that show the rapper hasn’t completely abandoned his commercially-minded hip-hop roots. On “Under Ground Kings,” Drake raps confidently over a gritty beat with snapping drums and intricate rock guitar lines: “But I’m the truth, that’s right I f—– said it/The living proof that you ain’t gotta die to get to heaven.” The track is reminiscent of some of Drake’s earlier, more raw work heard in the So Far Gone mixtape, and a ready reminder of his varied skill range.

From a strictly hip-hop standpoint, Drake is often hit or miss. Sometimes his deepest and most emotional songs have fallen by the wayside in favor of stale pop songs as a way to attract the casual listener’s attention. Fortunately, with Take Care, Drake has embraced a darker and mature side of his talent, to create an album that easily trumps much of his earlier work.

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