From Illmatic and Doggystyle to Get Rich or Die Trying and College Dropout, the classic debut has become somewhat of a prerequisite for a new artist aspiring for greatness. While there are certainly exceptions, the majority of hip hops premier acts made sterling first impressions. As if crafting a timeless LP wasnt challenging enough, Torontos own 23 year-old wunderkind Drake, has a whole other set of standards to live up to. While what Nas, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Kanye West accomplished was unquestionably extraordinary, none of them did it with a critically acclaimed mixtape, two Grammy nominations, a year of Billboard chart domination and all of the pressures that come with these accolades weighing on them. With appearances and production from the highest echelon of rap and r&b stars in tow, Drake attempts to meet the expectations that tower over him with his official debut album, Thank Me Later.
The album begins with the warm ivories of the Alicia Keys-featured Fireworks. Though somber for an introduction, Fireworks picks up right where So Far Gones The Calm left off, with a snapshot of Drakes current mindset. Money just changed everything. I wonder how life without it would go/ from the concrete, who knew that a flower would grow/looking down from the top and its crowded below/ my 15 minutes started and hour ago. Proclaims a clear-headed Drizzy. His signature introspective musings continue on album stand-out The Resistance, where he details his troubles maintaining relationships with people who he doesnt see as frequently as he once did and whom he promised he would never change.
While in-house producer 40 is responsible for several of the albums highlights, the trunk-rattling double-time drums of the Kanye West-produced Show Me a Good Time is a welcome departure from the albums peaceful and reflective beginnings; as is the variation of Drakes delivery, which can become a little monotonous on other offerings. As the album progresses, Heartbreak Drake goes toe-to-toe with musical titans including Jay-Z, T.I., Young Jeezy, The Dream and of course Lil Wayne. While most artists run the risk of losing their identity on such a feature-heavy project, Drake not only holds his own but is in most cases the driving force behind these collaborations, forcing the featured artist to adapt to his sound, a theme carried over from So Far Gone.
The album is not without its flaws, but finding them requires a keen ear. Sure Swizz Beatz chorus on Fancy is a little bit annoying, Timbalands production on Thank Me Now is somewhat underwhelming and the straightforward r&b offerings dont quite stack up to those on So Far Gone, but despite these minor hiccups there are no true lows to be found on Thank Me Later.
Unlike many debut albums from potential future legends, this is not listeners first time hearing a full-length collection of songs from Drizzy. This subtracts from the surprise factor and handicaps Drake somewhat as people are already familiar with his signature sound. It is impossible to listen to Thank Me Later without comparing it to Drakes genre-altering 2009 mixtape So Far Gone. But Drake knows that and rather then competing against his brilliant achievements he chooses to expand on them by creating the perfect companion LP. Thanks.
With all the talk, opinions of Drake’s album, do you agree with this assessment of the album?