Panelist: Combat Jack, Daily Mathematics
Reaction: Drake makes great records. Dude raps, he sings, and he’s added more harmony to the rap game, for which I am very grateful. I was an early fan of his and his mixtape bombshell So Far Gone was way ahead of its time, a veritable game changer even.
A lot has changed for young Aubrey Graham in the past couple of years. The crowned prince of the Young Money kingdom has just released his sophomore album. After another year of pollinating the airwaves with hits (DJ Khaled’s “I’m On One “, Lil Wayne’s “She Will”, “Headlines”, etc.) Take Care sounds like Drake’s attempt to return to the magic that was So Far Gone. Less driving beats for the clubs and more introspection through sung words, more ballady type love themed tracks for the ladies, some “woe is me I’ve become richer” musings, Drake seems to be angling for that Sade of rap title. And that’s alright as there’s room for Sade rap in this day and age. But Take Care sounds a bit…late. Like maybe it should’ve been the album that dropped after So Far Gone. Already though, TC has become a polarizing album on the Internets, with one faction of cats genuflecting on the honest greatness that this album is, and with the other side casting this aside as an estrogen laced album for the chicks and for simp minded dudes.
For someone like me who really enjoys the more rapping with some singing Drake, TC is of the more singing with some rapping type, resulting in less game changer Drake and more Drake falling in step with the trend he’s set those few years back. Does that make sense? Anyways, with TC sounding more like Drake as a Drake clone than Drake the innovator, TC comes off as a collection of musical poems written by a very emotional dude who would spend days writing love laced memes in a strip club after having his heart broken by a stripper named Candy Cakes, tears rolling off his face and into his very watered down Jack Daniels and coke as he cries, drinks and writes his pain away.
And all of that is just okay to me.
Panelist: Nathan Slavik, DJBooth
Reaction: He can’t yet step into the ring with rap’s heavyweights, but in his weight class (the under 25 division) Drake’s the undisputed champ. So with Take Care he enters the arena not as the underdog with the heart of gold, but as the prohibitive favorite waving his championship belt aloft.
It’s only right then that, as the title would suggest, Take Care is a fuller and carefully-crafted album than Thank Me Later, although not especially better, or that much different. The hazy, anesthesia beats of Noah “40” Shebib still comprise the album’s predominant sound, and Drake still returns to the same topics he’s rotated between since the So Far Gone days.
Some of my peers have put Take Care on the level of Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which is, frankly, crazy talk. There’s nothing suggesting the artistic vision, fearlessness and sheer creative force of MBDTF in the luxurious melancholy of Drake’s work. But that’s no insult. Drake’s created his own lane and paved it with gold by giving voice to everything his generation is, and wants to be. We’re still a long way from a classic, but Take Care once again proves that he’s just too good to disappear anytime soon.
Panelist: Foster Kamer, The New York Observer
Reaction: Every time I write one of these, I look back and think: Shit. "Otis" didn't deserve to be rated so well. Neither did Goblin. But here I am, blowing up (pause) Drake. But this is as much an album as it is a guide to breaking up and how to do it without too much damage by getting in front of the story and saying, "I'm sorry, I'm an asshole. Now if you'll excuse me while I go buy an ocelot. We'll talk again when I drunk dial you. Unless you drunk dial me first. Either way, see you on the next album, grandma. Tell PopPop I say what's up." On that merit alone, it deserves five stars. Hopefully, the next time I drunk dial my grandmother, I won't regret it, but in the event that I do, I'm hedging this risk by ducting the album exactly .50 stars. Also, I listened to Dashboard Confessional in high school, and if that doesn't merit serious critical regret, I don't know what does, though this may have much to do with why Drake is so appealing to mopey, hairy-knuckled Jewish guys like myself. On that appeal alone, I should strip it of another .50 stars, but the disturbing visual imagery of sitting in a hot tub with Rick Ross all but balances out any emo-scars Take Care may open up.
But seriously, Drake's grandmother should lay off the lean.
Panelist: Robbie Ettelson, Unkut.com
Reaction: There seems to have been some kind of horrible mix-up. Why did Complex just send me an old Jodeci tape to listen to in my mom's basement? It's good to hear that Color Me Badd are still releasing music in 2011, though. Yeah, Boyz II Men (pause!) haven't lost a step, huh? De La Soul would be turning in their graves if they heard this Rap 'N Bullshit, much like I did when I heard their AOI records. Oh, word? This is that newest/latest Chick Rap? Just as Groucho Marx didn't want to belong to any club that would have him as a member, I don't have any desire to bang any broad who has such low self-esteem as to publicly admit to enjoying this album. Admittedly, that's a terrible comparison, but no less painful than the five minutes I spent submerged in this bowl of audio fruit punch. Even the cot-damn Zit Remedy had better drums than this! Joey F.Jeremiah, hold ya dome.
Panelist: Dallas Penn, DallasPenn.com
Reaction: Of all the Complex Consensus project this might be the highest rating I'm offering. Why? Because Take Care was EXACTLY what I expected it to be. This album is on some punk smoove pantydropper rap shit. And Drake will getting those panties. Earrrrly.
All these rappers talking about how big, bad and invincible they are while this dude Drake is rapping about how bad he is but how he sometimes takes losses. Halle-fuxin-luejah and its about time. Vulnerability Rap has been looking to get a lane in the game and look who's playing pointguard for the VR team...The rookie of the year. Well last year's rookie of the year, but anyhoo.
Take Care is like a Sign Of The Times for the 2012 kids. Don't give Kanye West or Andre 3K credit for this kid Drake's punk smoove flow give all praise to the father of that shit—Kurtis Blow. Blow was "Daydreamin" and now we have Drake.
Panelist: Insanul Ahmed, Complex
Reaction: In our epic Q&A with Drake, he said something about Take Care that might have gotten lost in the shuffle but is important nonetheless, “It’s not ‘Club Paradise.’ It’s not that brand of music. That’s why I put that song out. That song is not on my album.” In other words, Drake pulled a bait and switch by promoting himself with excellent songs like “Club Paradise,” “Dreams Money Can Buy,” and “I’m On One” but then didn’t put any of them on his album.
Those tracks were “reflective Drake”—songs where Drake contextualizes his emotions. Drizzy could have easily made an album called Club Paradise, filled it with a mix of his pre-album songs and some of Take Care’s best cuts, and continued his gentle progression as an artist at the epicenter of his genre. Instead, he made Take Care: A much more challenging and ambitious project than anyone could have reasonably imagined.
The best cuts on here are still the reflective ones that find Drake staring in his rear view, “Look What You’ve Done,” “Underground Kings,” and “The Ride.” But there’s a wealth of “emotional Drake”—songs where Drake acts out his emotions in the moment: “Marvins Room,” “Shot For Me,” and “Doing It Wrong.”
Yet what makes the album a triumph is Drake and his co-conspirator 40’s willingness to break the “rules” and go for broke: He spits nearly 60 bars before squeezing a 16 out of Ross on “Lord Knows,” he lets a meandering Weeknd set up “Crew Love” instead of having him simply do a bridge, and whatever the title track is, no one besides Kanye could even approach making it.
The album does have one major flaw: It runs far too long. Taken with its bonus cuts, it’s essentially 22 songs and nearly an hour and a half. But the quality of the music outweighs the quantity, even if it takes multiple spins to get into the album. One thing is for sure: Kids around here wear crowns, and Drake is worthy of his.