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Album Review: Drake --- Take Care

 By Derrick Williams                                                             

Drake is one guy who’s really, REALLY in love with talking about love: whether being lyrically fervent about past flings or openly appraising the validity of his many liaisons with promiscuous women in his songs, the 25-year old Canadian rapper/actor makes women the lyrical focal point of most of his projects – a theme which is often glossed over in the male dominated rap genre – and wears it on his now signature, circa 1986, Cosby Show-inspired sweater’s sleeve. In a genre where self-aggrandizing and boisterous claims of superiority over everyone are the blueprints to success, there’s a certain earnestness that comes with hearing a 20-something Canadian rap about having his heart broken, or how he gets a little lonely at night.

Take Care, Drake’s follow-up album to his critically acclaimed albeit pretty disappointing freshman album Thank Me Later, is an album that is supposed to “speak for my generation,” Drake told MTV; that he “wants to make ‘life’ stories” with his sophomore album. But all music artists have those kinds of aspirations: that they hope that their music conveys a sentiment that speaks to their generation. But does the former Degrassi star turned platinum-selling rapper actually create “‘life’ stories” with Take Care?

Eh, not really.                                                               

Unless life is comprised of: odes to exes, rekindling relationships with exes, lamenting over breaking up with exes, lusting after exes, and swooning over women that are inevitably going to be exes, Take Care has as much to do with “‘life’ stories” as – ironically- Degrassi has to do with “’life’ stories”. Not to say that Drake’s sophomore album is by any means as discreditable as the teeny bopper drivel as the Canadian show that gave birth to him, but the penchant Drake seems to have for dramatic breakups on Take Care could very easily mirror a love triangle that was probably a subplot in an episode of Degrassi. “This is one I know you hated when you heard it/and it’s worse because you know that I deserve it,” Drake raps starkly on the moody, low-tempo 80’s synth-inspired track “Shot for Me,” a track riddled with all the nuances of an episode of Beverly Hills 90210.

Despite Take Care having all the inner makings of teen drama schlock, there are glints of genuine artistry amidst the inundating sappiness of the overall LP – most notably from Drake’s BFF/producer: Noah 40.

Noah 40, Eric B to Drake’s Rakim, has been the primary producer for all of Drake’s projects, and Take Care is no different: Noah’s signature, woozy, swirling beats help create the disorienting, solemn ambiance you’d expect to hear on an album that deals so heavily with heartbreak. The befuddlement that comes with heartbreak is captured perfectly by Noah’s careful instrumentation of minimalistic, low-tempo hums of synths. Drake’s raps somberly throughout the duration of Take Care with the occasional braggadocio rap song like “Underground Kingz” and “We’ll Be Fine,” which unfortunately only service as a very brief intermission for the impending slushiness of the titular track; which houses Drake and his muse Rihanna trading tritely sentimental lyrics over a surprisingly up-tempo beat that are kept in check by bustling, tribal drums.

In one regard, Take Care is an embodiment of what Drake has always been: a guy that has suffered a lot of heartbreak. However, for people with a chromosomal makeup that ends with a “Y”, there may be a disconnect between them and Drake when he rattles off lines like: “f—k that n-gga that you think you found/and since you picked up, I know he’s not around” on the bare boned, thumping bass drum Noah 40 instrumental of “Marvin’s Room”; a song that’s interjected with drunk dialing segments between Drake and – surprise – an ex. Drake visits an underbelly of rap music that some guys will simply just write off as overly mushy.

But in the album’s defense, Drake really manages to create a mood with Take Care that encapsulates the heartaches of previous loves. It’s just a shame that most of the sentiment permeating from Take Care just feels like estrogen-fueled fluff as opposed to something of actual weight.