An affecting masterpiece easily on par with his debut
In indie circles, R&B has long been stigmatised – sickly sweet vocals and dry humping inanimate objects not being in keeping with the ethos of the asymmetrically fringed masses. [a]Drake[/a] has completely transcended any such snobbery with a delicate, mellifluous sound and unashamedly candid, emotive lyrics.
The half-Jewish Canadian – who played a wheelchair-bound student in TV teen drama [i]Degrassi: The Next Generation[/i] until 2009 – is clearly not your typical rap/R&B star. On his US chart-topping debut, last year’s ‘[b]Thank Me Later[/b]’, he unleashed a lifetime’s worth of angst, becrying his lovelorn mental state.
‘[b]Take Care[/b]’, his highly anticipated follow-up, begins in a more assertive mood, with the rapper declaring that he “[i]killed everybody in the game last year[/i]” on opener ‘[b]Over My Dead Body[/b]’. Success can breed arrogance but the platinum-selling artist’s braggadocio is suffused with melancholia. “[i]I might be too strung out on compliments/Overdosed on confidence[/i]” he laments on lolloping lead single ‘[b]Headlines[/b]’.
His lingua franca of heartbreak soon bleeds through on ‘[b]Marvins Room[/b]’ as he tries to win over a girl he knows is out of reach. “[i]Talk to me please, don’t have much to believe in/Need you right now, are you down to listen to me?[/i]” he sings down the phone, sounding totally crestfallen.
The yearning, sun-kissed title track, produced by [a]Jamie xx[/a], sees guest [a]Rihanna[/a] in the role of an almost motherly figure: “[i]If you let me in, here’s what I’ll do: I’ll take care of you[/i]”.
The despondency is obviously contagious, infecting his Young Money label boss [a]Lil Wayne[/a] on ‘[b]The Real Her[/b]’ as he bemoans: “[i]Cos to her I’m just a rapper and soon she’ll have met another[/i]” (a line earnestly cribbed from ‘[b]Miss Me[/b]’ on his protégé’s debut). The song’s second guest, Andre 3000, also gets in on the emo action, declaring: “[i]Sittin’ here, sad as hell, listening to Adele, I feel you, baby[/i]”.
Just as on ‘[b]Thank Me Later[/b]’, ‘[b]Take Care[/b]’ is heavy with the beats of long-term collaborator Noah ‘[b]40[/b]’ Shebib. But although the sparse arrangements are a perfect match for Drake’s often lethargic mood, when the hip-hop bent of Just Blaze’s production on ‘[b]Lord Knows[/b]’ kicks in it hits like an elbow to the solar plexus, every euphoric gospel choir burst inducing a tremor of emotion through the body. In light of this, it somehow feels a shame [a]Drake[/a] didn’t experiment more with unfamiliar sounds. Such is the esteem that he’s now held in, the refrain of “[i]I’m just sayin’ you could do better[/i]” on ‘[b]Marvins Room[/b]’ is one that lingers. Yet considering ‘[b]Take Care[/b]’ is an affecting masterpiece easily on par with his debut, there could be no greater accolade for the genius of this man.