Arguably one of the most anticipated albums of the year, the 14-track record is much of what we have come to expect from the Toronto native joined with traces of his artistic gonads. Yes, there is a lot of singing, but if there’s one thing that Drake knows how to do it’s make a catchy hook equally matched by his poetic flow.
With production from the likes of Timbaland, Kanye West and Swizz Beatz, the 23-year-old pretty much cooked up a recipe for commercial success. Perhaps the most blatant introduction to his career altering year is the lead single “Over,” which re-teams Drake with his ‘Best I Ever Had’ producer. The thoughtful club ready track carries an intro that sounds as if it were birthed in the 1970s with new aged pride and a tricked out symphony that explodes into fiery appeal.
Proving that hip-hop can have a softer side Drake eases on down the road of melodic “cushiness” by way of “The Resistance” and the Alicia Keys assisted “Fireworks” (where he cleverly calls out Rihanna for their very public yet very brief affair) but once he makes his way to “Find Your Love,” he is in full-fledged R&B mode. To his credit, tackling the brawny task of transitioning from singing to rapping, and back again, is more admirable than overtly enticing. Among the most daring musical hybrids on the album is “Karaoke” a track that tells the tale of a love gone sour by fame and deception. What remains so interesting about this song (besides Drake’s ability to tell a story so crystal clear that visualizing it is effortless), is his skill for jumping in one lane then another without making us feel like he’s trying to be something he’s not. Additionally, the obvious ode to Sade’s breezy voice carved out almost perfectly for a mixture of R&B and soft rock seems to transcend any of his leftover musical boundaries. Unfortunately this isn’t always a good thing as a few tracks sound like one long tune null of any differential factors separating one from the other.
As expected Kanye West earns every inch of his production credit on the medium-tempo “Show Me A Good Time,” a song complete with record scratches, middle register piano keys and Drake’s knack for a southern inspired lyrical delivery that comes together to form perfection. By the time his Young Money counterparts Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne lend their voices to two tracks, the album seems to push itself to a whole other level as bass beats and a hint of reverb collide with well earned conceit. Drake even goes so far as to pledge his love for Minaj on “Miss Me” featuring Lil Wayne but plays coy when he’s paired with her on “Up All Night.” Other ear catchers include the “Light Up” in which Drake understandably takes a backseat to Jay-Z’s appeal.
Although “Thank Me Later,” isn’t a clear cut “knock your socks off” debut, Drake gets props for sticking to his own definition of greatness, a move that might be too risky for other newbies in the game. The Toronto native stands in a league of his own because he dares to cover individual ground, which I’m guessing is direct result of his year of ultra-exposure. So much so that “Thank Me Later” feels more like a seasoned rapper’s attempt at doing his own thing finished by a few repeat-worthy and ring tone friendly tracks, plus guest list that’s any artist’s dream.