CD review: Take Care

Of the panoply of sub-genres that make up the modern rap scene, from trap rap to whatever Kreayshawn is attempting to do, the absolute worst is “Success Is So Hard” rap.

Quite simply, no one wants to hear that shit. Oh, man, it must be so difficult to live your life with money bursting out of your pocket and supermodels begging to have sexual relations with you.

It doesn’t make any sense. That’s like Susan Sarandon showing up at Occupy Wall Street. Bitch, you have enough money to open up a goddamn ping-pong bar – I think you fall into the 1% the unwashed masses are complaining about.

Complaining about the wonderful riches afforded to him, however, appears to be Aubrey “Drake” Graham’s raison d’être for getting on the mic. His sophomore effort “Take Care” is filled with the woeful tales of his multi-million dollar record contract, drunken nights in Toronto and dalliances with exotic strippers, making this sure-to-be blockbuster one of the worst records of the year.

Look, I don’t have any problem with introspection – some of my favorite songs delve deeper than rap’s normal surface subjects – but there’s a fine line between that and navel-gazing, which Drake traffics in throughout the entire record.

After listening to the first seven tracks, I felt like I needed to see a therapist, because Drake hammers us over the head with his “horrible” life and desperate romantic travails. Isn’t music supposed to be escapist? Fun? I don’t hear any joy in a large portion of this record – wallowing in misery is not my thing, especially when most of it is the off-key warblings of a former child TV star who is now teamed up with the top record label in the music biz. 

“Headlines,” the somewhat braggadocious first single, doesn’t do anything for me and neither does the drunk-dial fantasy “Marvin’s Room,” which frankly, is downright embarrassing.

What I will say about “Take Care,” compared to his debut “Thank Me Later,” is that it’s a much more cohesive work. The latter record felt that a scattershot grouping of hot producers, whose disparate styles led to a disjointed album. On “Take Care,” Drake relies on longtime collaborator Noah “40” Shebib, who delivers an icy, spartan sonic landscape that aligns perfectly with the chilly feel of Drake’s lyrics and subjects.

Still, the production left me cold. Look, I understand what Drake is going for here, but I’m just not the audience for his sensitive-guy, please-fix-me rap. This is an album for the ladies, pure and simple. I can’t fault him for that, but I’m sure as hell not going to listen to it.

It’s hard to imagine that I’m writing this, but the album’s saving grace is … Rick Ross. That’s right, Ricky Rozay actually injects some life into this sap-fest on “Lord Knows,” which contains a staggering Just Blaze beat that proves that yes, something with a beat and some soul does sound good on a hip-hop record (imagine that!).

I feel like I’m swimming upstream with this one – “Take Care” is going to be a smash, but for me, it’s another step in the emo-ization of rap. There is plenty of room in the genre for variety, but when you see more and more artists taking the Drake approach, I wonder if anyone wants to make “real” rap anymore (or maybe I’m just turning into a grumpy old man).

P.S. – I would be remiss if I didn’t like to Big Ghostfase’s review of Take Care, which takes down the record 100 times better than I ever could. I only wish this was the real Ghostface.


~ by Elliott on November 18, 2011.

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