Drake: Thank Me Later

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Posted September 13, 2010 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0

drake00The Canadian rapper with the Kanye West touch has alot to prove on his debut album. Although full of rap cameos, Drake still finds a way to sound credible and noticebale

The heavy burden rests on Aubrey Drake Graham, the Canadian hip-hop newbie with an itch for alternative rap and soul. He’s been on his hustle trying to prove he’s not just pretty boy actor trying to make it into the rap field after a burst of underground mix tapes and the big release of 2009’s “Best I Ever Had.” The song took off like lightning, sending him to the majors in the summer with a signing with Universal Motown. The EP — a well-loved album chronicling a man wrapped up in hard love and its immature mistakes — followed and gave Drake that extra drive and motivation for his official debut. It showcased the fresh artist working with the ease of Lil Wayne and the lyrical textures of Kanye West – yet all too original to quickly dub an industry fluke. On his first record, Thank Me Later, Drake is out to prove he’s not a fly-by-night act amidst all the haterade flaring up about his superstardom. On “Up All Night,”he provides details on his new life while exposing even more so his grind on doing music: “I’m having a good time/Niggas trying to ruin it/Shoutout to the fact that I’m the youngest nigga doing it.” Blunt words aside, Drake is a man that is deep enthroned into his craft. His official album gives us more of what So Far Gone demonstrated: the love-making slow jams, brutally honest intelligence and that half-and-half rap/singing combination that gives him an edge over many rap acts. Drake has a passion for the lovers’ lane grooves of R&B stalwarts of the Isley Brothers (“Unforgettable”), Sade (“Karaoke”), Ne-Yo (“Find Your Love”) and steamy bedroom galore proven on The-Dream-produced “Shut It Down.” On the opener “Fireworks,” Drake joins up with Alicia Keys on a track bearing several resemblances to Keys’ “Unthinkable.” It’s not all that exciting to hear, especially after absorbing 2010’s leftovers, but it’s an indicator of what works well for the young emcee. He does find a few club bangers to help pump up the album’s volume, particularly with “Fancy” — a groovy jam demanding lots of attention just in time for the summer.

Where Drake tumbles off of his high horse is when all the many superstar rap collaborations come in. Big names are good, yet in this exception some of them actually get in the way of the songs’ organization and the artist’s vision. On “Miss Me,” Drake starts off rapping about a few freaky fetishes, but Lil Wayne takes things to a whole different level; going from rated-R to X in a matter of seconds. Nicki Minaj’s involvement on Drake’s confessional “Up All Night” feels like a plug for her. Probably the better of the cameos, Jay-Z sounds comfortable on the dreamy rock beats of “Light Up;” but it’s a track that could have easily been done without the Hova. His appearance is so brief that if you walk away from the speakers you might end up missing it. All of the stars are rap royalty in their own right so it also doesn’t make sense that they try so hard to upstage him on his own album. In the end, Drake seems to be pleasantly relaxed and comfortable with his own compositions while the guest rappers are out to prove they are far superior than the host.

It’s interesting to see and hear Drake coming at a style so embossed with Kanye West trimmings. And it’s even better knowing that Drake – who has no problem dabbing into the Auto-tune – knows how to sing the sing-a-long choruses without the aid of too many call-in session singers. Thank Me Later still has its share of vexes to sort through (especially the crowded room of guests and too much emphasis on the same ol’ material gain madness), but they are far too small to be concerned with. When you consider Drake has more to offer the rap game than most realize. The biggest problem for the young buck, something newbies usually encounter after a good debut, is determining what the hell to do next.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 15 Jun 2010
  • Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Motown
  • Producers: 40, Al Khaaliq, Boi-1da, Crada, Francis and the Lights, Jeff Bhasker, Kanye West, No I.D., Omen, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, Tone Mason
  • Track Favs: Fancy, Karaoke, Light Up, Fireworks, FInd Your Love

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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