Thank Me Later
– Drake

You know hip hop has changed when you listen to Drake. He’s unequivocally ushered in hip hop’s post-Kanye, Twitter landscape; a place where the internet plays as much an influential role as it did the first time you could download Eminem alongside Morissey free of charge via Napster. He’s used the internet as a source of promotion (So Far Gone mixtape is the most downloaded in history and spawned his overnight success), artistic tapestry (see his own blog), and open-source playpen (how else would he have found Francis & The Lights?) unlike those before him. He’s grown up with a post-racial, post-college-radio ear (he’s half-white and Jewish on his mother’s side) that’s as much influenced sonically by Eminem as Morissey, as much hip hop as easy-listening; a desegregated sense of freedom and willingness towards genre eclecticism that came with the advent of digital music piracy. He’s the mixed result of desensitized racial and social boundaries, an affluent suburban upbringing, dorm rooms, and fast fame. He’s an artist that’s broadened hip hop’s tense with unsuspectingly genre-defying, self-pondering narratives that could easily make any emo collegiate jealous.

His first-ever commercial LP, Thank Me Later, is a devoted introspective debut. An album that track-by-track expands to immerse you. From first listen, you can tell it’s important – and not because Pitchfork told you so. The first song, “Fireworks”, plays like a continuation of Alicia Keys and Drake‘s duet, “Unthinkable,” atop echoing drums. How many of our parents’ marriages lasted?, Drake asks in the song’s final verse. It’s a generational question that wouldn’t of sounded so real had it come from the corner. What would have ultimately come across as pussy, is in Drake‘s case real. He can play both Jay and Sade. “Karaoke”, produced in part by Francis & The Lights, is a sublimely delicate listen to which Drake flexes his lightheaded melodramatic croon. Perhaps the most solid track on the album, it isn’t something you’re apt to find on just any hip hop LP (scratch that – 808’s and Heartbreaks tried and failed), moreso a track off of Phil Collin‘s Face Value. It’s here, where Drake finds solace – part-sung, part-rapped, the song is a testament to his talent and versatility. The Aaliyah-sampled “Unforgettable” is another gem, even if Drake is outversed by his feature, Young Jeezy. The Jay-Z-assisted “Light Up” sounds akin to The Roots’ politico raps, but becomes very much Drake’s own when a somber subtly-sung, lo-fi chorus kicks in. The disc’s most ill-fitting tunes come shockingly from the most veteran producers – Swizz Beats and Kanye West. “Fancy” sounds like an outdated Blueprint flashback and “Find Your Love” goes in the wrong direction entirely. The album’s greatest heights are achieved when Drake lays his soul out to dry amongst the most ambient of backgrounds (produced by Boi-1da, Omen, and 40) reminiscent of Boards of Canada and the xx. There are even portions where he sounds partially submerged. Listen to The-Dream‘s triumphant duet, “Shut It Down” (above) or “The Resistance”, to hear what I mean.


8 responses to “

  1. album of the year most definnitely, great writing!!

  2. Marcus i love drake. i love your blog. i think i love you. i would be most honored if you followed me. <3!

  3. dig the review, dig the album, all good. drake is king.

  4. At first I didn’t like it and while I’m still not sold on it, it’s pretty catchy. I just wish he wouldn’t sing all his hooks, it sounds like karaoke to me. And I think he needs to lyrically think about what he’s trying to say like he did on the mixtape. The material felt stale, outdated and unrelatable. The exact opposite reason why people related and liked the mixtape so much. Hopefully the next album is better.

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