Drake, Take Care (2011)
Label: Young Money, Cash Money, Universal Republic
Drake avoided the sophomore slump by once again seamlessly incorporating his rap and R&B talents into one project. With his homeboy Noah "40" Shebib manning the boards—along with Just Blaze, T-Minus, and Boi-1da—and the trappings of fame suffocating him, he made penning an album about the whoa and woes of rap life seem simple. Drake found his sound, settled into the mood—which was littered with weed, wine, and women—and gave us his all.
Take Care is a look behind the curtains of the VIP, where there's money to blow and all the women know your name, but you still have to deal with the pain inside. It's a superstar story filled with emotion and lust that only Drizzy can tell without coming off like a complete asshole, or a square, and he picked the perfect co-stars to help him share it with the world. Rihanna, The Weeknd, Kendrick Lamar, Birdman, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and Andre 3000 all make appearances, and they complement his sentiment perfectly, no matter the mood switch.
There are too many highlights to mention on this album. It's long as hell, but it's the ride of a lifetime, filled with braggadocious bars, sentimental memories, and even drunk dials. It's the pre-game, the party, the after-party, and the morning after, jammed gently into one rap/R&B LP. —Daniel Isenberg