“They say I’m old news/ well who the new star?” might just be the perfect opening line for Drake’s latest album “Take Care” due for its much anticipated release this Tuesday, serving as a state of the union sort of address to its listeners. As a sophomore effort “Take Care” serves us a completely comfortable Drake in contrast to the seemingly rushed “Thank Me Later”, totally in his natural element repping his own crew OVOXO and giving us what is easily his strongest major release.
The opening composition “Over My Dead Body” is smooth piano track that sounds like a self congratulation that is almost eerily similar to Kanye West’s “Good Morning“, both being confident and boasting tracks right at the start of their respective albums. This is a big signal on the tone shift coming from “Thank Me Later”, as Drake is less “sad & rich” and more “rich and don’t really give a fuck anymore” here, evident by statements on this opening track such as “You know, feeling good, living better…” as the song fades into an ode to all his exes on “A Shot For Me”.
Things speed up a bit into the lead single from the album, “Headlines“, followed by “Crew Love” which might be one of the big highlights of the entire album that features the Weeknd. The track comes in hard with distorted 808 kick drums and the now signature Weeknd chopped moans and grunts. What follows is three minutes and twenty-nine seconds of codeine r&b, rap fusion with misogynistic and swag-rap lyrics while a thumping kick drum provides a center, but intermittently. “A whole lotta girls, first flight from Poland. “Why? Cause… They lovin’ the crew.” It’s a great track but it does feel more like a Weeknd song featuring Drake instead of the intended other way around. The eponymous title track is a bit more sonically in line with a Find Your Love styled singing Drake with a great use of a Rihanna feature and acting as another one of the big standout, highlight tracks of the album. It plays out like a classic pop male/female duet with loud drums and what sounds like a distorted piano, with its already familiar production handled wonderfully by Jamie xx.
“Marvin Gaye/Buried Alive” slows things down again, at least for a bit as Drake airs some problems via a drunk dial. It was one of the earlier self-leaked tracks and it’s well placed here. What makes this track particularly interested and great however, is the retail addition of the Kendrick Lamar song and verse. Over synths, an extremely loud snare and muted kick, Kendrick lets the listener in on his relation with Drake, his own fans, and fame. One of a few great, no filler rap verses on the album, another belonging to Rick Ross on “Lord Knows“. Seemingly always improving, Ross is clever and funny here (“Only fat nigga in a sauna with Jews.”), and you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sounds of an invincible gospel choir sample on the best instrumental on the album provided by JustBlaze.
The last quarter may not be as strong as the rest (a disappointing verse from Andre 3000 will sour most) but it does go out on a high note with “The Ride”, with reverb and distorted snare that rolls over electronic bass. Chopped up moaning, and singing layered all over the beat thanks to the Weeknd complete and round the track out. At the end, “Take Care” is exactly the sort of sophomore album you want. It’s better than his debut in every way. It flows better, and sounds like an actual album instead of a collection of songs. This is the album we should have got last year but it’s okay, we have it now– the Drake album we deserve and most importantly, he deserves.
Drake – Crew Love (feat. The Weeknd)
Drake’s “Take Care” is out on Cash Money Records this Tuesday.