#3. Drake, Take Care
Label: Young Money/Cash Money
Released: November 15
It feels like everything that can be said about Take Care has been said already—and that fact alone should let you know that Drake made one of the most important albums of 2011. Even before the night it leaked it was impossible to ignore the impact of Drizzy's sophomore release, and we've been immersed in the moment ever since. From social networks to passing automobiles, the album's 18 songs have been quite literally inescapable. Not that the most popular music is always the best music, but in this case, those millions of Drake fans can't be wrong.
Shifting between styles with total confidence, Drake puts on a clinic fueled by beats courtesy of producer / engineer Noah "40" Shebib. "Under Ground Kings," "The Ride," and "HYFR" find rappity-rap Drake at his finest, and even his softer tracks are difficult to dismiss when they sound like "Cameras" and "The Real Her." 50-plus-bar blackouts like "Lord Knows" are great, but so are R&B moments like "Crew Love," grounded as they are in a thoroughly modern hip-hop sensibility. And then there's "Marvins Room," a psychological mood piece that rewrites much of the rap rulebook.
Beyond form and function, Drake captures the zeitgeist of the times with songs about the pitfalls of drunk texting that strike chords in the same way Q-Tip's Skytel pager narratives did for an earlier generation. Relevant, honest, and painstakingly crafted, TC cannot be dismissed except on the grounds of deeply rooted personal preferences. To call it anything less than a triumph is straight hatin'.