Review Summary: With fairly impressive rapping ability and pleasant R&B choruses, Drake’s debut album is one you will want to pick up (and will eventually put down).
The current state of mainstream Rap music is wounded at best. Artists like T-Pain, Soulja Boy and current-day Snoop Dogg are all topping the Billboard 200 charts while frequently producing some of the worst excuse for ‘music’ I have ever had the misfortune of hearing. Auto-tune runs rampant like the crabs or gonorrhea that I’m sure they all have from sleeping around with groupies. Songs containing uninspired lyrics filled with misogyny where said rapper doesn’t even submit an idea on, just a flawed attempt to put out a No. 1 single. Needless to say, it is shameful in every sense of the word.
Enter Drake, known as Aubrey Graham to many through other ventures in the public eye. His previous EPs / mixtapes and collaborations with other mainstream Rap artists have given him some success, most notably “Best I Ever Had” off his So Far Gone
EP. Seeing such mainstream success in such an unmarketed (but not unpolished) release as an EP, many critics and fans alike awaited his debut album, hoping to lap up another taste of his slow-beated ear-pleasing hits. His debut, Thank Me Later
delivers on the unrefined listener’s hopes in every way, but those looking for an above-par pop-rap release may still be seeking more once the 14 tracks are over.
A large majority of Drake’s songs on Thank Me Later
are quite similar to “Best I Ever Had”: largely down tempo and simplistic beats that are well-complimented by his singing voice in the choruses. This is not to say that only songs with singing are ones that hit home – “Over”, the album’s first single, is one of the best and most consistent on the record. The singing / R&B portions on the album easily propel any song to a level of catchiness that just good hooks with rapping cannot usually reach. The current-age of rap’s influence on this is noticeable within the first 5 minutes of the record, with many beats sounding like up-tempo copies of 808’s and Heartbreaks
. Drake’s flow (for lack of a better word), though, is actually much more natural-sounding and seemingly refined than most of the guest artists on his album (save for Jay-Z), making for even the most lyrically simplistic songs to still sound pleasurable on the outer layer.
Lyrically, Thank Me Later
is severely bi-polar. The substance of Drake’s songs range from the more introspective “Karaoke” to the painfully shallow and misogynistic “Fancy” featuring Swizz Beatz and TI. This trend is fairly steady, as most of the songs with guest spots tend to have less artistic depth and likeability than those where Drake is on his own. Also, many of the bars of lyrics start off interesting but end on a completely unrelated note just to save the continuity of the song and rhyming style (“Making sure the Young Money ship is never sinking /
Bout to set it off in this bitch Jada Pinkett”). Although this is all in the cards for a mainstream Rap record, it is still disappointing that the trend continues.
Though Drake’s first release is in no way ground breaking or, in some places, remarkable, is still a very pleasant listen, producing some songs that will be in rotation for quite a while. In the context of the popular records that have been released in the past couple of years, Drake’s Thank Me Later
is definitely a standout record that has some artistic worth to it.
“Thank Me Now”