It’s a good thing you’re not supposed to judge a book, or an album, by its cover. The artwork is interesting, showcasing the fact that Take Care is nothing to laugh at. Over the course of two years, Drake has become the voice of a generation, propelling him to incredible heights of success, pressure, and countless angry blog tirades. This, coupled with the idea of a sophomore slump, leads many to ask the Canadian rapper one question: “Do you ever get nervous?”
To fans and critics alike, there has seemed to be two different artists over the course of his career- ‘Rapping Drake’ and ‘Singing Drake.’ When he decides to kick strictly bars here, ‘Rapping Drake’ does very well. The single “Headlines” has already been met with much love, with “Lord Knows” and “Underground Kings” soon to follow in line. The first boasts a larger-than-life instrumental by Just Blaze and both are full of confidence-laced rhymes. It’s true, though, everyone enjoys a self-indulgent song – and Drake has always been at his best is when he’s being an overly-honest, maybe even overly-dramatic, confessional.
Things are no different on Take Care, especially displayed in “Look What You’ve Done” and “The Ride.” The former sees Drake dedicating two verses to his mother and uncle, respectively, over an introspective piano groove, claiming, “You deserved it.” The latter, which features stellar chorus work by The Weeknd, is all about the climb to success and problems that come with; which sounds like a tired subject from the Young Money artist, but it never really does get old. ‘Rapping Drake’ is well-received here; you can play him speakers on blast cruising down the street, as well as alone in your room, staring at a computer screen.
Where listeners sometimes take issue is with ‘Singing Drake,’ the Drake that is in the forefront on Take Care.
There is no doubt that the LP has a majority, groove-based, harmony sound. A big part of this is the production, provided by in large-part, Noah ‘40’ Shebib. Songs like “Shot For Me” and “Marvin’s Room” are produced to a sound optimal for Drake to carry a tune; and by optimal, I mean good. However, each of these tracks carries a rap verse from him; so does that make these ‘Rapping Drake’ or ‘Singing Drake’ songs? “Cameras/ Good Ones Go” is sung in a drunken, lazy flow, with a mesmerizing beat provided by Lex Luger, that is hard to label and easy to fall in love with. “The Real Her” showcases a half-sung, half-rapped part from Drake, and thankfully, a fully-rapped, fully-dope feature from the Harry Houdini of Hip-Hop, Andre 3000 (“Sitting here sad as hell/ Listenin’ to Adele, I hear you baby”). And “Crew Love” begins with a harmonized verse from The Weeknd, but ends with Drake spitting, “That OVO and that XO/ Is everything you believe in, I know.”
As the album goes on, the lines begin to blur between which songs are ‘Rapping Drake’s, and which are ‘Singing Drake’s. This is a review, not a defense. It used to be that Drake fans had to defend his singing ambitions after a fully rapped song of his captured his naysayers’ attention. But the two styles have become one in the same. Flowing in and out of choruses and verses, Drake creates a solid groove on Take Care that deviates when necessary, but reigns back just when you think he’s about to spit something like, “Last name ever, first name…”
Sure, the track with Rihanna is pretty bubble-gum, the Juvenile interpolation on “Practice” is sort of corny, and the Stevie Wonder feature is really more for decoration. But Take Care is intriguing, filled with top-tier production and emotional lyrics. It will give Drake fans more material to love and Drake haters more ammunition to gripe about his crappy singing and girl songs, per the usual.
But he does have Kendrick Lamar as a feature, so they won’t be too upset.