Label: Young Money, Cash Money, Republic
Producers: Boi-1da, Cortez Bryant, Chase N. Cashe, Drew Murray, Aubrey "Drake" Graham, Illangelo, Jamie xx, Just Blaze, Kromatik, Lil Wayne, Doc McKinney, Gee Roberson, Noah "40" Shebib, Supa Dups, T-Minus, The Weeknd
Features: The Weeknd, Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Birdman, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, André 3000
Nothing Was the Same has Drake's best song. (“Worst Behavior,” even if the committee voted for “Started”—but either way.) It is his best-sequenced, most concise, disciplined album to date. It features the healthiest mix of bro Drake raps and soft Drake simping.
But fuck all that. It's still Take Care over all. After Thank Me Later, a debut album that played like a cookie cutter mainstream rap checklist, with the necessary A-list features and superproducers, Take Care is Drake becoming and validating Drake. It's Aubrey standing in a room with him, himself and all his millions, throwing all of his influences, insecurities, and idiosyncrasies at the wall from the far corner he's retreated to. The result? A splattering of art like Jack Nicholson turning up to Prince in the Gotham Art Museum—chaotic and reckless up close, but a masterpiece when you step back.
This is Drake doubling down on his mortal man pettiness while simultaneously shooting straight for hip-hop Mount Olympus. This is Drake putting the Toronto sound on the map (via collaborating so closely with the Weeknd it can be hard to discern who's featuring whom), while simultaneously indulging his Houston fascination. This is Drake hopping on a majestic Just Blaze beat for added credibility and then taking it straight to the Bay on the bonus track banger. This is Drake following up a drunk dial with a verse from his future competition. Birdman makes an appearance just to big Drake up at the end of a track—and so does Drake’s grandma. He warns he'll catch a body if the haters keep talking; he laments about being unable to sleep alone. He explores his love for his mother and his uncle; he roars that showing emotion has never made him a pussy. This is Drake in a macrocosm, the insecure egomaniac. It's overlong but never boring, missing one or two more doses of high energy, but never not engaging. His junior and senior may have been meaner, but Take Care is Drake at his nicest. —Frazier Tharpe