Drake: Take Care

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Drake
Take Care
(Cash Money Records Inc.)

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“Dig a shovel full of money, full of power, full of pussy, full of fame and bury yourself alive,” Drake offers on “Buried Alive Interlude.” You thought Kanye was morbid? Drake takes aim at Ye’s throne on his new release, Take Care.

Drake’s music is stripped-down, all-muffled kick drums and ethereal synthesizer pads. He and producer Noah “40” Habib have created a signature sound, more a reduction than a production. There are no marching bands or orchestras here. By comparison, Kanye’s excesses seem so 2010.

This minimalist approach puts the focus on the lyrics where it belongs. Drake’s pet subject is the boozy, lonely haze of superstardom. The album’s centerpiece, “Marvin’s Room,” vividly portrays Drake’s isolation; Unable to leave his hotel room, he drunk dials an old flame, desperately trying to reconnect with a part of himself he fears may no longer exist. Drake knows he could have her anytime, but he wonders if it’s right to pluck her out of her normal life, just to satisfy a momentary urge. Tomorrow is another day of fame, power and people kissing his ass, and she’ll be of no use to him in the morning. Still he can’t help but say, “Fuck that nigga that you love so bad/I know you still think about the times we had.” Later, in a moment of stunning self-analysis, he admits, “I don’t think I’m conscious of making monsters/Out of the women I sponsor/Til it all goes bad.”

There are plenty of less-reflective pleasures to be had here as well, including “HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)” with Lil Wayne, “Crew Love,” with The Weeknd, and “Headlines,” all of which feature tales of Drizzy and his boys, spending money, dealing with hangers-on and staying loyal to each other.

At a sprawling 85 minutes of solid music, Take Care is a remarkably cohesive whole. The record sags a bit in the late middle, but it’s still got hooks and lyrical brilliance to spare. It doesn’t quite hit the dizzying highs, or the paranoid lows of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but it’s really close.

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