Drake's 'Take Care': What the Critics Are Saying

4:17 PM PST 11/15/2011 by THR Staff

The Toronto-born rapper and singer released his sophomore effort via Young Money Records on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

After a short delay from the originally scheduled release date (and an album leak), Drake’s highly anticipated Take Care hit stores on Tuesday, Nov. 15 and has both fans and critics talking.

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The album is Drake’s sophomore studio release -- a follow up to 2010’s Thank Me Later and his celebrated 2009 mixtape, So Far Gone. The album features collaborations with Rihanna, Rick Ross, Stevie Wonder, Lil Wayne, Andre 3000 and Nicki Minaj, and has already spawned the hit songs “Headlines,” “Make Me Proud” and “Marvin’s Room.”

What do the music critics think of the latest offering from Young Money, which mixes Drake’s signature moody lyrics with hip-hop beats and crooning vocals:

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“Drake's sophomore studio album, Take Care, is as much for his fans as it is for him. The 25-year-old Toronto native took his time and care -- no pun intended -- to craft a project that best showcases his life behind the lens. Drake brought along only close friends and family (from Noah "40" Shebib and The Weeknd, to hometown talent Divine Brown) for this ride, and bared his soul, for better or worse. So Far Gone (2009) -- Drake's mixtape turned Grammy nominated retail album -- introduced us to the Degrassi actor turned rapper. Drake's debut effort, Thank Me Later, (2010), cemented Drake as a force in the hip-hop game. But Take Care presents Drake at his best: unraveling without the care of being judged when spit-singing emotional verses over intricate, piano-heavy synths.” - Billboard

“The music is grandiose, full of big names and weighty references…Where Thank Me Later was airy and spare, Take Care truly goes for it with luxe, expansive production: On "Cameras," beatmaking prodigy Lex Luger provides diamond-bright high-hat clicks, low-end vroom and soulful background vocals as Drake struggles to convince his girl he's not cheating on her after she sees him in a magazine with another woman; on "Lord Knows," Just Blaze laces a shake-the-sky mix of gospel choir, gauzy R&B sample and stomping beat, and Rick Ross swoops in for a hilarious freestyle: "Villa on the water with the wonderful views/Only fat ni**a in the sauna with Jews." There's even a funky thank-you letter to Drake's mom.” – Rolling Stone

Throughout Take Care, Toronto actor-singer-rapper Drake references plenty of the accouterments that come with living as one of hip-hop’s rich and famous. There are strippers and there are millions of dollars spent on “nice things” like Persian rugs. Yet the former do little more than cause guilt, and despite all the cash Drake raked in after his million-plus-selling 2010 debut Thank Me Later, the man can’t stop worrying about his taxes… To discuss Drake requires a mention of how he represents the softer side of hip-hop. It’s not just anyone, after all, who gets a guest harmonica turn from Stevie Wonder.” – LA Times

Take Care leaves the distinct impression that Drake is a chronic overthinker, someone who picks over every aspect of his life in painful detail and is, thus, incapable of genuine emotional dishonesty — or, at least, of not acknowledging it and spending hours tying himself in knots over his flaws in hindsight. That perpetual, fretful self-analysis makes for compelling, three-dimensional listening here, despite the fact that most of the “problems” Drake confronts over the record’s 17 tracks seem to stem from getting “rich off a mixtape” (2009’s celebrated So Far Gone) at a young age, living in the glare of tabloid cameras and swimming in a sea of hot chicks with loose morals. Drake himself has said that he wasn’t entirely happy with Thank Me Later, and Take Care definitely feels more like one man’s considered vision. Cooked up at home in Toronto with right-hand man Noah “40” Shebib handling most production work, it’s a subdued, slow-moving affair that occupies a headspace often closer in tone to ’90s trip-hop — or the recent work of Drake-approved Toronto future-R&B upstart the Weeknd, who turns up on three tracks — than your typical Top 40 rap.” - Toronto Star

“In general, Drake’s lyrics aren’t as involving as his delivery. He’s not an ace wordsmith, but his flow finds its own beat and tone, ranging from the needling blast in “HYFR,” which can be Twista brisk, to the mellow ease of “Look What You’ve Done,” a salute to his upbringing. More, Drake’s singing holds its own with Rihanna in the decorative title track, even if auto-tune seem in heavy play. The music can sound over-mellow as well. At times, Phil Collins seems more an influence than Drake’s stated muse: Stevie Wonder (who lends his harmonica to one song). Then again, Drake found his original distinction in a willingness to risk being soft, to temper his force with thought.” – NY Daily News

“In this moment, I feel like a proud parent whose bosom is swollen with the warmth of validation. Last year, actor-turned-rapper Drake dropped his eagerly anticipated debut album, Thank Me Later, a lackluster affair of tired hip-hop clichés, half-wrought emotional declarations, and bits and pieces of innovation too insubstantial to survive. Now, a year and a half later and with more miles under his high-priced Nikes, Drake returns with Take Care. Where Thank Me Later fell flat with the sting of disappointment, Take Care shines bright, utilizing the same concepts and notions as its predecessor but with far more lethal and appealing results… Over the course of some 18 months, Drake has become quite an up and comer in the genre, well on his way to mastering new and exciting ground. Take Care hints at such a future, and for once, we can all look at his résumé with a sense of beaming optimism. Perhaps we should start thanking him now.” - TIME

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