This is really hard for me to write. Not because there is nothing to say, or because it is difficult to encapsulate the brilliance and expansiveness that is Take Care in a few paragraphs, but because this newest Drake record is so personal.
Personal because it is the kind of album that people will connect with for a plethora of reasons -- the stark lyrics, the nods to current and past great artists (Gil-Scott Heron, UGK, Steve Wonder...,), the use of up-and-comer compatriots The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, and the glory of turning a once hopeful passion into a now flourishing music career.
In a year that was filled with heartfelt successes from the likes of Adele, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and even local hero Ty Segall, October's own Aubrey "Drake" Graham created a record that flipped not only rap music, but the art of record making on its head. All the things that make Drake Drake are still there (the confessionals, the weed and white wine, the Young Money shout outs, the club bangers and the crooner slow jams), but to categorize this album as solely an R & B or hip-hop record would be wrong. As Jon Caramanica eloquently put it in his profile of the rapper in the New York Times:
Take Care is an astonishingly audacious way of spending his newfound currency. Given that he's a fixture of hip-hop radio, making an album this outré demonstrates a perverse sense of confidence, and also ignores the received wisdom about consistency and incremental change.
Drake mixes minor dub, neo-soul, psych, Houston rap, New York rap, and tons of pianos, all together to make one epic record that pushes hip-hop boundaries. It's crazy, it's exciting -- at times weird -- but it works, and is undeniably infectious.
Those that know me well, and some that do not know me at all very well (I have a tendency to over share when I get excited...), know that I have a very strong affinity for Drake. Maybe it was all those years watching him wheel around on the teen drama Degrassi or his penchant for the ridiculous (see SNL, or the "Best I Ever Had" video), but perhaps a big reason why I love the Canadian stallion is his acknowledgement of how amazing the Bay Area is.
From shout-outs about Mac Dre ("rest in peace, Mac Dre, I'mma do it for the Bay), to filming "The Motto" with a cameo from E-40 in our fair city, to mentions of French Laundry ("And you do dinners at French Laundry in Napa Valley / Scallops and glasses of Dolce / That shit is right up your alley"), it is nice to see the Bay Area recognized on a global level. Moreover, Drake is performing at this year's 94.9 Wild Jam on December 18th, alongside B.O.B, New Boyz, Taio Cruz, J.Cole, and label-mate Tyga. A somewhat crowded bill to choose as a jumping off point in promoting the new record, but still the Bay is a first tour choice as Drake moves toward world domination.
Take Care is my favorite record of the year. Not because of the flirty-female moments ("Don't take it too easy girl, don't take it too fast / Yeah that's it, right there, that's it / Do it just like that..."), and not because of the subtly funny lines ("Gotta give the ring back / Can't keep that shit"), but solely for the fact that it's a solid listen.
It is a no-holds-barred marathon of toughness, tenderness, and blissful fist-pumping moments. It runs a gamut of emotions, giving any moment a soundtrack to live by. It gets me up in the morning with swaggerific tracks like "Headlines" and "Make Me Proud", feeds into my life-pangs with "Marvin's Room" and "HYFR," and takes me to an introspective place with "Over My Dead Body" and "Shot for Me." The best records have no space, no lag time, and no fillers. This record is completely honest, and gives us a glimpse into the life of one of the best rappers in the game -- and did I mention it is also damn good?
Take Care is written in and on the record multiple times, but the sentiment is not a kiss off. In his genuine, personal way, Drake tells all the women he's been caught up with, the family (by label or by blood) he loves, and haters wishing his hip-hop pedestal gets kicked down, to be good and live well. A simple goodbye to all that feed the Drake machine, but never a more earnest statement from a man who eats, breathes, and is the truth.