>He lived up to the hype!
After the entire summer of 2009 being dominated with Drake‘s “Best I Ever Had”, I was beginning to think maybe his hype would die down and nobody would even pay attention when he finally released his solo debut. And people Need to pay attention to his debut “Thank Me Later” which was released today, because surprisingly it’s becoming one of my favorite albums of the year. His stuff leading up to this debut, his work with Lil Wayne’s Young Money and his Mix-Tape “So Far Gone”, gave us just a little taste of what to expect on a very thoughtful first album. And what he manages to do with this album is paint a picture of where he’s at, while proving he’s an excellent lyricist definitely worthy of all the pre-album buzz and praise.
From the Alicia Key’s assisted album opener “Fireworks” the album plays as a journey in his mind, with the plot being his move into a prime spot in the Hip Hop game. “Today it begins, I’ve missed them before, won’t miss them again, I keep having the same dream, and I think that I just realized what it means” is the start of him pursuing his dream, while “The Resistance” he talks about how people around him change once the fame starts to come (“she miss the old me, which made me question when I went missing, and when I start treating my friends different”), and “Over” being his determination to block out the negativity and keep on “doing me, and that’s what I’ma do ’til it’s over”. As the fame rises, he is ready to enjoy it “Show me a Good Time” and splurge “Up All Night”. After he gets advice from the Leaders of the game Jay-Z and Lil Wayne on “Light Up” and “Miss Me”, he feels confident enough to tell the Game to “Thank Me Now”. And even though Drake does fall victim to alot of the same Hip Hop concepts, his lyrics make them feel a little more personal. Like he’s just stating his reality and not showing off, which is a fine line for a lot of other rappers but he does it effortlessly here. Also he goes in and out of rapping and singing, which is a nice touch to make the album different from every other Rap album released. He’s not the best singer, but his singing voice is always perfectly placed by softening up a song when his lyrical attack get too intense. A lot of times it actually feels like he’s a featured artist on his own song, which sometimes make the guest appearances a little much, but it always ends up working in the end.
The production on the album, largely supplied by virtually unknown 40 with big names Kanye West Timbaland and Swizz Beatz thrown into the mix, is really seamless in keeping a Epic but calm vibe throughout. Which is probably why the Rap/Singing thing works so well, the tracks literally beg for the various changes he does with his voice. And just to add another layer, it seems like most of the songs have both lyrics your typical Hip Hop fan would appreciate, but also respectful odes to women. The mostly sung “Karoake” speaks about having to let love go because of the fame “I was only trying to get ahead, but the spotlight makes you nervous”, and of course first single “Find Your Love” which finds him at the end of the album willing to put his fame aside for love. Even on “Fancy” and “Shut it Down” he finds ways to honor women instead of just using them. Something as simple as him telling his women to “put that fucking dress on” in “Shut it Down” (yeah that’s right. put it ON!) is shocking in both Hip Hop and R&B these days (he does ask her to take it off once the song makes a genius turn towards the end).
I literally can go on and on about all the beautiful layers of great music and great talent that Drake has combined to make a truly Grammy worthy album. And let’s not ignore the risks he took, with producers and his super long bars at times. He showed his talent, stayed pretty much contemporary, while stretching the boundaries a bit. This is my favorite album of the year and I wasn’t expecting to like it, I was never all the way on board with the Drake love last year. He delivered though, he made me forget all about his “Degrassi” rep by making great music. And doing it by being himself, another thing I Love about the album is that he never tries to play the Thug (which is something I’ve always loved about an obvious inspiration Kanye West), he’s just a guy with the passion that wants to make it big. I can feel what everybody must have been praising him about before, he has the talent to go all the way. He says in my favorite song on the album “when you get to talking about the Greatest, I just hope that you think of me, cause I’m trying to be Unforgettable” and I honestly already can’t wait for the follow up album, but this will more than do for the rest of the year.