Review Summary: 8.5/10
Averages out to an 8.5, which is a classic score for me. The album has aged so well that it's rare a day goes by where I won't listen to at least one song from it. Still it's a cohesive album you can sit down and listen to all at once. When an a2 of 7 thought this review was well written
The formula for today's up and coming rapper is typically predictable, mix tape scene, blow up and sign to a major, debut album with heavy content about adjusting to fame. Drake followed this to a t leading up to his debut album Thank Me Later which to most was somewhat disappointing. While a very good debut, it was a bit too much of a typical debut. Lacked maturity, tried to cater to every type of audience, failed to capture the pure and unique Kanye West 808's and heartbreak production sound that Drake and 40 strongly dabbled in and succeeded greatly with on So Far Gone. So how do you follow that up now that the pressure of a debut album with strong sales isn't there and you're one of the biggest rappers out? Take your time and perfect it. That's how you get Take Care.
1. Over My Dead Body
The first few times I listened to Take Care I was furious with the intro because I thought Club Paradise would have been the perfect intro. Not the case. From the go you can tell this is going to be a mature, more developed version of Thank Me Later and even So Far Gone. The female sample is perfect, as Drake is confident yet not overly braggadocios here. He seems humble and happy with where he is. Content, grateful. Then at the end of the song a dark twist on the beat comes in with a vocal sample that reveals Drake still isn't all that humble and he's ready to talk down on everyone to get the respect he deserves, you know the album isn't gonna be all "I'm happy where I am, life is good." In fact, not at all.
"Man these kids wear crowns over here and everything is all right."
2. Shot For Me
Back when they thought pink polos would hurt the roc, before Cam got the *** to pop, the first Drake song I ever heard was "Still Fly." He says on the track "that's me singing by the way… some new *** I'm on." He then lays a somewhat forgetful auto tuned version of the classic Big Tymers hit with the same name. Who woulda thought how far he would come with the singing. The high pitched singing on Shot For Me are just great, the best singing up to this point in his career hands down. More technically advanced than anything he did on Thank Me Later, clearly no longer relying on auto tune. Beyond that it takes about 30 seconds into track 2 before Drake becomes braggadocios, hosting "i'm the man, yea I said it" which is one of the best moments in music, ever to me. Calling out exes to let them know he made it in case they hadn't heard. He gets a little more humble when the rapping starts, getting personal with one of his exes, reflecting on his relationship with her pre-music fame.
"Girl I can't lie I miss you." Sounds somewhat depressed about losing her to everything but still content. Perfect song.
Wait, you're telling me you don't need a poppy and generic first single to make a hit and sell records first week? Nobody told Eminem apparently. Headlines is an honest song to put it simply. Best line in the song and possibly on the album. About as strong of a first single as you could hope for as Drake holds nothing back in explaining why he is where he is right now and nobody has the right to try and shoot him down.
"I know I exaggerated things, now I got it like that." He did used to exaggerate his lifestyle on mix tapes, So Far Gone and even Thank Me Later but he is truly on top of the world right now and that's exactly how this song feels.
4. Crew Love (Feat. The Weeknd)
Anybody who knows me knows I've been a Weeknd stan for quite some time. I was beyond excited when I heard he was gonna be heavily involved with Take Care in the early stages of it. This song certainly does not disappoint. This is our first glance at 40 and Drake re-entering the 808's and Heartbreak world and perfecting it this time, and they certainly accomplish that. Eerie, dark beat that is perfect for the vocally capable Weeknd. Also what more of a brilliant way for Drake to introduce his artist to the world then to give him a 2 minute solo to start one of the songs on what is sure to be a #1 album. The Weeknd doesn't miss his opportunity. Drake comes in and delivers a great verse reflecting on everyone who has stuck with him while he's been on this ride. While the verse is fully capable, this is The Weeknd's song. And it's great. Hello world, this is Abel.
"That OVO and that XO is everything you believe in."
5. Take Care (Feat. Rihanna)
You're telling me you can have Rihanna on a hook and not make a painfully generic and forced pop single? I guess nobody told… never mind. Rihanna does her Rihanna thing on the hook but Drake is able to make it interesting by also singing. Don't get me wrong, this was made to be a single but it fits in perfectly with the context of the album. Drake is talking to a girl who he is in love with, convincing her that he's the one for her. Mentioning her friends' lack of support for their relationship. Typical relationship problems, in a non typical single because Drake was able to get creative vocally and also because 40 was able to channel a bit of that Kanye sound we've been talking about.
"You don't say you love me to your friends when they ask you even though we both know that you do."
6. Marvin's Room
And here we have the modern marvel that is Marvin's Room. This song leaked well before the album but I never for one second questioned it being on the album, the song is that good. Turns out, it's sequenced perfectly too. Rather than Drake being in love with this girl, he's now famous, drunk and depressed that he can't have her early in the morning. One of the best hooks ever written for it's delivery and straight forward manor. Here, Drake is channeling his honest, raw, pure So Far Gone style and perfecting it. All in all one of my favorite songs ever made and the best song on a great album. Perfect combination of singing and rapping, hard to find a single flaw in this song. 40 once again perfects the 808's sound.
"I've had sex 4 times this week, I'll explain."
7. Buried Alive Interlude (Kendrick Lamar)
I usually don't review interludes but this one has to be reviewed. Not gonna lie, I absolutely hate Kendrick's awkward singing intro to it but his rapping is great and fits in with the sequence of the album. Here it's made clear that this isn't Drake's debut album, he's been famous and successful. He's giving Kendrick advice on what is going to happen to him (which likely, when this came out still hadn't happened to Kendrick at all which is even more brilliant now). Kendrick does a great job paired with 40 to make this dark like Marvin's Room and Crew Love.
no rating due to it not being Drake
8. Under Ground Kings
Here, the production gets quite a bit more banging and lighthearted. Here, Drake is making the transition from being depressed about his failed love life to riding his success out to the fullest. 40 shows his versatility as a producer here, which is widespread clearly. Hook is nothing technically spectacular but it's a fun song which remains lyrical on the verses. He explains why he dropped out of high school, but I suppose that's not really a tough choice when you're already a rich teenage actor. Still this song is great and very fun. He no longer cares about finding love here, just yoloing the *** outta things.
"Tell me lies make it sound good, make it sound good, do me like the women from my town would."
9. We'll Be Fine
A little less energetic take on the subject matter from Under Ground Kings. The highlight of this track is the hook. Remains catchy while not falling into generic territory which Drake has a knack for. You can tell he's truly comfortable with his vocal range now and is at his hook-writing peak. Once again Drake is reflecting on the people in his past before he was a famous musician.
"Got a show up in your city, your girl is in the line, and the line around the corner it's my mother***ing time." It's pretty much every aspiring musicians dream to be able to one day say that to someone.
10. Make Me Proud (Feat. Nicki Minaj)
This is the generic pop single. I don't blame Drake though because without Nicki Minaj this is still a very good song. The hook is a little more poppy than typical Drake but he still nails it. Nicki Minaj adds absolutely nothing to the song and struggles to stick to the concept, actually she doesn't struggle she just comes in babbling about random *** with no clue what the concept of the song is. This is what you're proud of, Drake? I wouldn't be. Luckily it's not a bad song because of how good Drake is on it. And Nicki's bridge actually isn't terrible until she ends her part with those terrible 4 bars about sheriff badges, basketball players and Dolly Pardon's tits. First non 40 produced song and you can tell.
11. Lord Knows (Feat. Rick Ross)
If you're gonna have 40 sit out some beats, why not bring in a capable producer? Just Blaze proves more than capable here pairing a banging beat with a beautiful soul sample. Drake carries on what he was getting at in UGK and We'll Be Fine but in a little more of an angry/intimidating fashion. Ross delivers a great guest verse as he typically does. Funny how "yolo" was supposed to be Ross and Drake before the "epidemic."
"Know that I don't make niggas who don't get pussy." Remember that, "real hip hop" nazis.
12. Cameras/Good Ones Go
This is where the album is gonna get boring for a lot of people. The production gets a lot more mellow, as does Drake's tone. The first half cameras is about the famous, hot mess, females that Drake comes across. His delivery seems bored, as is the point/tone of the song. He doesn't like these famous, reckless girls and certainly isn't wifing any of them. Kind of an "it is what it is" type attitude towards the situation. Well done, with a nice addition by The Weeknd on the hook.
Then the beat fades out and changes. Get into that darker 808's sound again. Drake doesn't seem so bored with the famous girls anymore, now he's spiraled into a depression about not being able to get the good girls anymore due to his fame. He realizes he's missed out on that. The beat/singing remind me of So Far Gone's "Brand New," one of my favorite songs. If Good Ones Go was its own song it would be a 10/10. Drake is seemingly lecturing his old "good girls" from a higher state, essentially talking to them like he's above them and is never going to be dealing with them ever again. Giving them advice saying he's not going to be there anymore, but please don't make these mistakes.
"Don't you go getting married, don't you go get engaged. I know you're getting older, don't have no time to waste."
13. Doing It Wrong
Beat has the same feel as Good Ones Go, as does the tone. Drake displays one of his best singing performances on the hook. Talking about a hook up and how he can't fall in love with these girls. He's no longer talking to the good girls. Some impressive vocals on here paired with inspirational bars that teenage girls who follow fake Wiz Khalifa twitter accounts are sure to love. But nonetheless he's not corny about it. In this string of songs, Drake does seem depressed. If I'm looking at the Take Care cover, I'm thinking of this song, Good Ones Go and Marvin's Room. Drake is beyond famous now, he's the biggest rapper out. He can no longer live the lifestyle he once had with his good hometown girls. 40 Killing the 808s sound once again.
"We live in a generation of not being in love."
14. The Real Her (Feat. Lil' Wayne and Andre 3000)
Simply put they're talking to strippers here on another well done dark beat by 40. Interesting on the bridge Drake is referencing the 3 cities from Houstatlantavegas, his So Far Gone song about strippers. Drake struggles to not love a girl who is a stripper, he relates to her hard work ethic to support herself and feels like he knows her because of this but is still guilty because of her lifestyle. Wayne comes in and I've always loved how his first bar is quoting Drake. His verse suffices but is nothing to write home about. Andre 3000 provides the best guest verse of the album. In typical 3 Stacks fashion he riddles the song with wordplay mixed with content, something Wayne tried to do but came up, eh… unclever.
"Listening to Adele I feel you baby, someone like you, more like someone unlike you."
15. Look What You've Done
Well here we get some directly personal Joe Budden esque storytelling. Nothing more to this song but direct stories told to 2 different people in Drake's life. The first verse about his mother, Drake touches on his fights with her growing up, involving spending his money, his mother being sick and addicted to painkillers and living with his Dad in the summer. Then a really cool story about Drake getting his first phone call from Wayne and Wayne flying him out to Houston and then signing him thus enabling Drake to pay for his mother to get surgery. Second verse is about his Uncle, clearly a close person to him. He explains growing up having to spend summers in Memphis and what an impact his uncle had on him. His struggles switching from acting to music which I've always said I wished Drake would touch on more. It's great when Drake gets this directly personable.
"Checks bounced but we bounced back, I put all the money in your accounts back."
Now everybody listening for banging beats can jump back in. This is Drake's greatest rapping verse hands down. Throughout the album Drake proves that people forget what a technically sound rapper he is. If you didn't realize how flawlessly he rides beats, he throws it right in your ***ing face here. Reminiscent of Andre 3000 in every possible way telling the story about a girl he ***ed before he blew up but always kept feelings for and texted once he blew up. Just amazing combining the storytelling with the flow. And Wayne actually makes sense on this song, providing a lot to the song.
When I first heard this song my ears absolutely lit up. The old school Cash Money classic sample, brilliant. 40 pulled it off perfectly and Drake pulls off a ballad worthy of the best. Such an enjoyable song as he sing Juvi's lyrics on the hook, matched with 40's twist on the sample it's just flawless. Top 3 song on the album.
"I know he messed up, but let a real nigga make it right"
18. The Ride
I wasn't on board with this song for a while, but it's honestly a great way to close out the album. Drake basically tells you if you related to him on this album, you don't know what the *** you're talking about because you haven't lived his life. He doesn't describe his life in general rapper terms of "i got money etc." He's describing his lifestyle with Shawn Carter esque imagery and class. Once again he's taking a pretty generic concept and making it not generic. The beat falls short to me but The Weeknd adds to the song. Great way to sum everything up, drags on a bit though.