Take Care
November 10, 2011

It’s a good job Lil’ Wayne’s talent is out of this world because protégés of top rappers are never this good. Now we all know that Nicki Minaj is on a whole different level, but it’s Toronto M.C. rapper Drake who is the new poster boy of rap. Not only is this guy Canada’s greatest hip hop artist (no offence Kardinal Offishall, you’re still a pioneer) but he’s climbing the charts of the elite list of the greatest in his genre. This is thanks to his classic debut Thank Me Later and the hype of the mixtapes and So Far Gone EP that came before. From Best I Ever Had to Fancy and Find Your Love, this popular artist already has hits. Now with his sophomore set Take Care, Drizzy Drake looks to take care of business and cement his already concrete solid status. This sublime, second offering confirms this signed, sealed and delivered.

Speaking of which, this album’s so great, it’s good enough for the harmonica of soul legend Stevie Wonder (who’s only performed with Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes and Raphael Saadiq in recent years) as the Motown magician sprinkles, tinkles and blows some magic onto the righteous record Doing It Wrong. In fact, Drake credits the wonder of Stevie as a creative director on this deep, introspective piece that really is some of the most atmospheric and thought-provoking mainstream hip hop we’ve heard in years. Time to dim the lights and turn up the headphones, this is getting real and personal, or should we say real personal.

Drake really did take his time with Take Care and that’s why we need to celebrate this quality in full by appreciating the ‘Birthday’ edition (or deluxe iTunes offering) of this epic set. Drake recorded a lot for this piece, recruiting everyone from The Neptunes to Q-Tip to produce music in his Toronto studio. Drake even abandoned an eagerly-anticipated all singing, all R&B mixtape (featuring the TLC of his cult hit I Get Lonely Too) to focus on his next project. A lot of hit singles came buzzing from all this creativity, including the deep, dark, drunk text devotion of Marvin’s Room (which is as soulful as a hip hop Marvin Gaye), the stop-press Headlines and the big, expensive, head-in-the-clouds hit Dreams Money Can Buy. Even a leftover from the cutting room floor (Trust Issues) turned into a hit for DJ Khaled (I’m On One). This is due to Drake’s incredible rhythmic flow which makes most of his versatile verses sound like bridges, choruses or hooks. More of this rhythmic prose reels us in on this LP; hook, line and competition sinker.

This ladies’ man gets down with his darling Nicki on Make Me Proud on a latest single which should certainly provoke an emotional response of that kind from Young Money manager Lil’ Wayne (who himself appears on ‘The Motto’ the anthemic ‘HYFR (Hell Ya F#@%$^*’ Right)’ and the big three man strong The Real Her which features lyrical legend and spotlight outcast André 3000). The title-track of this album also features old-flame Rihanna as the two heat up from the magic of last year’s smash hit What’s My Name, with another shining dance-floor spotlight highlight.

From the chilling intro of Over My Dead Body (featuring Chantal Kreviazuk), you can feel the seriousness of Drake’s killer rhymes. Sure, this is a moody piece at times, but this thoughtful record shows that this man is no emo like some have mocked. With his inner introspections we are genuinely given something real. As this man wears his heart on his sleeve, he plays his best hand. This refreshing brand of hip hop is something we can all drink to, just like Shot for Me. We’ll Be Fine, the spiritual Lord Knows (featuring a terrific Rick Ross testimony) and the flashes of brutal brilliance on Cameras are more snapshots of this tremendous album’s tone and tenor. ‘Look What You’ve Done‘ Drake with songs like this and the perfect Practice; you’re hitting all the right notes and themes.

The rapper makes drunken talk about women sound classy and his own flaws sound cool with a ‘man-enough’ honesty (delve deeper into the brutally bold bonus Hate Sleeping Alone) which ups a somewhat weak-willed, modern mainstream game of hip hop. Drake claimed his first, brilliant album was rushed (it was still great) but on this second go-round he gets focused to a needle point of fine rhyme precision. He really does take time and care here for our consideration. It’s time we afforded the same on his best work to date. ‘Take Care’.

Listen: Drake – Take Care feat. Rihanna