There is a reason Pitchfork once called Drake “The Boy Who Cried Penthouse Suite.” He’s unapologetically bougie (he once rapped his lyrics off his Blackberry; he’s from the West Bloomfield of Canada, outside Toronto). He often complains about his model/stripper girlfriends. Lately, he’s had a penchant for benching said rapping in favor of moody, R&B slow jams that require actual patient listening. His music career effortlessly fell into his lap by the grace of one mixtape, Lil Wayne and adolescent TV stardom (R.I.P. Jimmy Brooks).

Drake

Take Care
Young Money


But that’s OK. Drake knows what his detractors say about him. He knows “pussy” is his most common libel, that harder, more stoic (and misogynistic and vulgar and armed) rappers will rip on his effusive delivery and seemingly delicate persona. That being said, Take Care still isn’t going to convince somebody who already hates Drake to reconsider.

If Thank Me Later was a pregame, then Take Care is the whole crew sitting on the couch, stewing in various level of inebriation after a wild night out. Imagine “Fireworks” from Thank Me Later. Now imagine an album with 13 “Fireworks,” and seven different “Up All Night”s. After worrying if you have the stamina for over 20 Drake songs, you have just envisioned the basic infrastructure of Take Care.

From the first verse of leadoff track, “Over My Dead Body,” the tone is set: “I think I killed everybody in the game last year / … and I thought I found the girl of my dreams in the strip club / Mm mm, fuck it, I was wrong though.” Drake’s self-aware regrets (however ridiculous to us) make him relatable. We see ourselves in him, and it’s not just because of his hipster glasses and flannel.

Making good on a Toronto-bred, OVOXO bromance, “Crew Love” is all Ambien-soaked ambiance laced with The Weeknd’s eerie, reverb-heavy falsetto. On “Doing it Wrong,” a lone organ wails as Stevie Wonder delivers a lengthy (and slightly baffling) harmonica solo. “Shot For Me” is the mirror image of a love ballad, as Drake points to all the reasons he should be loved.

In an album comprised mostly of Singing Drake moments, anytime Rapping Drake appears, it’s usually a statement. “Lord Knows” is an exultant victory cry that proves (at least for five minutes and nine seconds) he deserves his spot at the top. The gospel choir, Phil Spector wall of sound is made possible by a Just Blaze-produced, absolute monster of a beat. “Underground Kings” and “We’ll Be Fine” both draw from the same bucket — all heavy bass and begging for a car stereo, they thread the needle between melody and hard(er) rap.

However, there’s no doubt this is Singing Drake’s album. Sometimes, his soul-baring couplets work: “Girl I can’t lie, I miss you / You and music were the only things that I commit to.” Other times, they don’t: “May your neighbors respect you / Trouble neglect you / Angels protect you / And heaven accept you.” Um, OK Rabbi Drizzy.

Take Care waxes on The Good Life, but it also makes us privy to it, if only for 80 minutes. There’s no longer such a deep divide between star and fan — Drake could be that guy we used to know, still charmingly startled by the sheer reach of his success. He’s confident to the point of absurdity (“I’m a descendant of either Marley or Hendrix”), self-aware to the point of narcissism.

But even with all his confidence, he’s questioning where he’s going. On Take Care, he’s made it for now, but he wonders if he’s meant for this kind of life (“What if I don’t really do the numbers they predict?”). At the heart of it, Drake is just a young guy trying to figure out what makes him happy … and aren’t we all?

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