Take Care (to be released November 15, 2011)
This might be the most pointless review in Georgia Mae history. I don't care what I say about your favorite rapper Drake's sophomore album, you're gonna love it unconditionally. I don't know if I respect that blind devotion or if I'm depressed by it.
Drake's stature in the music industry has grown since his overrated 2010 debut (as you can see from his album cover above, he's now going on dinner dates with Da Illuminatiz) but his music hasn't changed much at all. He's still splitting his time between braggadocios raps and moody R&B songs. The big difference here is he tends to rap with a bit more ferocity than he did on Thank Me Later. He's on a mission to prove he's just not a mush-mouthed balladeer in a Bill Cosby sweater.
To that end, "Lord Knows" might be the best Drake track I've ever heard. Backed by an epic Just Blaze beat (sounding like something circa 2001 from Jay-Z's Blueprint) ol' Aubrey goes on a lyrical tirade, blasting critics (like me) who have written him off. Of course, Rick Ross, who never turns down a hot beat or a hot meal, appears to add fuel to the fire. Color me impressed.
Drake also goes HAM (sandwich - sorry Rozay) on "Under Ground Kings." Even though he swipes some tired punchlines from Lil Wayne, Drake drops plenty of witty lines that will definitely be stolen soon enough. Just remember, this is where you'll first hear the phrase "That was back in the days, Acura days."
"Lord Knows" and "Under Ground Kings" are miles ahead of anything on Drake's last album. But sadly, or predictably, if you're as pessimistic as me, a lot of Take Care is pretty uneven. Sometimes Drake's guest stars really provide a needed boost: The Weeknd's vocals on "Crew Love" and Andre 3000's contribution to "The Real Her" push those tracks out of "average" territory and help make 'em bangers. And Kendrick Lamar's scene-stealing verse on the "Buried Alive" interlude is the best of the entire album.
Other times, those guests fall pretty short. Nicki Minaj has thankfully cut down on her cartoon antics but she still adds nothing to "Make Me Proud" (so you can bet that's the next single). And your girl Rihanna contributes her usual brand of ruin to the title track. I'm gonna start calling her roadkill because her vocals are always FLAT AND DEAD. Why do you people like that woman!?
But the wifey will get mad if I place blame solely with the ladies. "Marvin's Room" and "Doing It Wrong" are typical boring, sleepy Drizzy Drake tracks, whining about how hard it is to be rich and in love. Playa, give me a break. They aren't offensive, but my mind starts to wander about two minutes in. Drowzy's current single "Headlines" is pretty pedestrian too. It's like a Porsche revving its engines in a garage - it sounds nice but it's going nowhere. And what was he thinking with "Practice?" Only Drake could turn "Back That Thang Up" into a boring karaoke ballad.
At nearly 20 tracks, Take Care is way too bloated. Ho-hum songs like "HYFR" and "We'll be Fine" should have stayed on mixtapes. But I can't discredit everything - the good stuff is REALLY good, some of the finest of young Aubrey's career and help to break up the album's dead spots. For every eye-rolling, mushy lullaby like "Shot For Me," there's a "Cameras/Good Ones Go" that borrows sensuality from an old Jon B track without blatantly pandering to the ladies. The album almost inexplicably succeeds in spite of its flaws.
Take Care is far from perfect, but it's definitely worth checking out. Not that you needed my two cents - y'all were going to love it regardless.
Best tracks: "Lord Knows," "Under Ground Kings," "Crew Love"
4 stars out of 5