June 26, 2010

Drake - Thank Me Later (Review)

Thank Drake Later, Thank Me Now!
I know you've been waiting on this one for awhile, but it has finally arrived! Let's do it!

1) Fireworks (feat. Alicia Keys)
Fireworks stays true to the So Far Gone sound that made him famous. Smart move. Shades of Lust For Life, but nothing major. This track gets no complaints from me, its virtually flawless from beat to lyrics to hook to concept, etc. Awesome way to start things out.

2) Karaoke
I remember in late 2009 hearing that Drake was trying to work with Sade, and after hearing Karaoke, I think I know what song he had set aside for her. You can't tell me those singing portions don't sound like they were originally made specifically for Sade. I could be totally wrong, but that's what it sounds like to me.

Anyway, with or without Sade, Karaoke is still amazing. It effortlessly blends in following Fireworks, and the lyrics and beat are top notch. I would have liked to hear another rap verse, but that's an extremely minor issue. Shades of Houstatlantavegas in the arrangement (singing, more singing, rap verse) as well, but I ain't mad at that.

3) The Resistance
The So Far Gone similarities continue on The Resistance, which sounds a lot like a Trey Songz-less version of Successful. It's deeply personal and cleverly worded, just like Successful, and over a beat of similar tempo. Normally following the blueprint you set on a previous body of work this closely is a bad thing, but Drake is working it to perfection thus far.

(Heads up: if you like rap songs with 3 verses, either savor this track or turn the album off now because they become scare after this point. Fair warning.)

4) Over
We already know how I feel about Over, and if you don't, just click here.

5) Show Me A Good Time
Another hit. Show Me A Good Time is pretty much flawless. Great flow, great verses (especially the last 12 or so bars of the 2nd verse), great hook, and great beat. Kanye really laced Drake with some hot shit, and he belted it out of the ballpark like Mark McGwire in '98. He's making it really hard for me to critique so far... but I'm sure that will change sooner than later.

(Side note: This really has nothing to do with how the song sounds, but am I the only one who caught Drake's "can't get me right and not do Wayne" line in the 2nd verse?? That suggests Drake has already moved passed Lil Wayne on the "pulling pussy for the crew" latter. So when Mack Maine, Gutta Gutta or any of the other lesser Young Money guys are trying to fuck something they say "you know I know Drake" over "you know I know Lil Wayne" now??

Well I'd like to believe Lil Wayne could still pull his own hoes at this point in his career, but who knows, maybe Drake pulls more?? If Drake is indeed getting hoes for Wayne, I guess that explains why he's fuckin' beautiful hoes like Lauren London while Jae Millz and them fuckin' irregular boob job hoes like Kat Stacks.)

6) Up All Night (feat. Nicki Minaj)
And just like that we have our first critique-able song. Unlike the flawless Show Me A Good Time, Up All Night is flawed in a few areas.

First off, Drake's verse is BARELY better than Nicki Minaj's. I'm sure no one who knows anything about Hip-Hop would ever confuse Nicki with a good rapper, so if you're Drake this shouldn't have even been close. We should be saying, "damn Drake ripped that shit, why the hell was Nicki Minaj on it anyway?" Not "man, Nicki almost outspit Drake." Its like when a sports team plays down to their competition instead of up at the level we all know they're capable of. We could've had a great verse by Drake to accompany Nicki's "average for most, but hot as hell for Nicki" verse, but got some "aightness" instead.

Both verses had at least 1 overtly wack line in them too. Drake's was, "I'm busy getting rich, I don't want trouble. I made enough for to niggas, boy, stunt double." And Nicki's was, "The fuck I look like ho? I look like yes, and ya look like no." That's just bad.

Flaw number 2 is the hook. That shit was wack and sounded like some Soulja Boy backwash. You can float these out there for a mixtape, but through 5 songs he was flirting with a classic, so its disappointing to hear.

The 3rd flaw is that the song is so freakin' short. It's essentially just 2 minutes because after Nicki's verse, all we get is beat and more of that awful hook for a little less than 2 more minutes. Where is the 3rd verse?? Did you realize we're 6 tracks in and there has only been 13 Drake verses thus far?? That's about 2 verses per track. We're gonna need more than that.

The saving grace for Up All Night is its incredible beat. Why not put Young Jeezy on this one?? I'm sure he could've at least made a better hook than the one currently in use. Oh well, it took 6 tracks to get to this point, so he's still doing fine overall.

7) Fancy (feat. T.I. & Swizz Beatz)
First and foremost, I wanna know who was the engineer that recorded this song, who mastered it, and how did neither notice Swizz Beatz said "nare done" instead of "nails done" in the first half of ALL of the hooks?? The damn song is 5 minutes and 19 seconds long, how does no one catch that??

Now I've gone to some popular lyric websites and they all have Swizz as saying "nail done" in the first part and then "nails done" in the 2nd, but I specifically hear the "r" sound in there which makes it sound like "nare" to me. He could be saying "Nair," as in the hair removal cream, but why would he say hair twice and nails once?? I think Swizz just fucked up and either no one had the balls to correct him or they just didn't notice. I'll pray for the latter. And sorry for dedicating so much time to this minor issue that probably only bothers me lol.

Anyway, Fancy starts off slow, but really hits its stride once T.I.'s verse starts. Tip completely takes ownership of the track until the bridge came, the beat changed, and Drake finally unleashed a 3rd verse. The bridge was a tad long, but overall this is still a very good song.

(Side note: I predict "oh you fancy, huh?" will become the next overused, and eventually fucked out, phrase in Hip-Hop. The process has already begun on Twitter.)

8) Shut It Down (feat. The-Dream)

Its rare that an unfinished version of a song sounds better than the final version, but that's exactly the case here. Have you heard of the term "addition by subtraction?" Well this album version of Shut It Down is "subtraction by addition."

What was the point of adding The-Dream's verse here?? It literally added nothing to the song. At best it was a lateral move... but in actuality that wack ass verse was a downgrade. I mean, majority of it didn't even rhyme. I'm serious, look at it and tell me where the rhymes are:

"Girl you're the greatest. And if he say you ain't, girl he's out his mind. You're the finest. And if he say you ain't, that boy done lost his mind. Hey baby, every time you come around, shut it down like computers. Hey lady, step into my heart and put you in the Louboutins."

See. The only thing he rhymed was "mind" and he rhymed that with itself, so really that doesn't even count.

Drake didn't really help things either with his effort on the 3rd verse. It was wack line after wack line. Check it:

"Shooting stars all around her. Fire. Comets. I could bring her through and shut them down, Onyx."

"You feel the hours pass, until you find somethin'. I feel like when she moves – the time doesn't"

"Yeah, baby you finer than your fine cousin."

That's just bad. Maybe this is the reason for the lack of 3rd verses on earlier tracks?? Okay, well if that's the case, I take back what I said before. We need less 3rd verses.

Well somebody must've got in Drake's ear about how wack the song had become because he comes back for a 4th verse to stretch the track to nearly 7 minutes. I appreciate the extra effort to make up for earlier missteps, but this makes the song way too long. Why not just delete the 3rd verse and replace it with the 4th?? This track is now very skippable.

9) Unforgettable (feat. Young Jeezy)
I still can't figure out if Unforgettable was really meant to be Drake's song or not. Young Jeezy dominated the track in a way that makes me think it was originally intended for Thug Motivation 103 and not Thank Me Later.

Well whoever's album it was meant for really needs to come and finish the song because it sounds majorly underdone. It's funny because it comes right after the super overdone Shut It Down.

Regardless, the hotness of this record can't be denied. The beat is sweet, the Aaliyah sample is perfect (most producers would've went back and sampled the original Isley Brother's version), and the 2.2 verses were useful. I like it...though I still would've loved to hear Jeezy on Up All Night instead.

10) Light Up (feat. Jay-Z)
I know on Shut It Down I said needed less 3rd verses from Drake after that wackness he laid down there, but now I take that back. I don't know how many more 1 verse tracks I can take. Either Drake needs to cool it with the features, or get his bars up because there are just too few verses, rapped or sung.

Besides that, Light Up is still a tad off. I don't know what it is, but it seems like it's supposed to be a little better than it actually is.

Both Drake and Jay's verses were good overall, but both had their flaws. Drake tried to force in too many of his patented "describe something, take a pause, then say the word/name/phrase" punchlines (he didn't even have room for most of the pauses), and Hov dared to spit the elementary "I don't do too much bloggin'. I just run the town, I don't do too much joggin'."

The hook is decent, and the beat is good enough. I like the song, but it was a bit underwhelming.

11) Miss Me (feat. Lil Wayne)
I could be wrong, but aren't there 3 more tracks left on the album?? Okay, so why does Miss Me sound like the end??

In my opinion, this would have been a great closer/outro, but then again, I guess that's why I'm not in the music industry now. Silly me.

Anyway, we still only get 1 verse from Drake, but it is a memorable one, to say the least. Drake not only declares he has a crush on Nicki Minaj and wants to marry her some day, but he rips it. The whole verse was fiyah. Unfortunately the same can't be said for Lil Wayne's. Maybe my standards are too high for Weezy, but I think even his biggest fans would admit for someone so lyrically gifted, his verse wasn't all that.

Wait, what am I saying?? No, they wouldn't. The biggest of Wayne's fans would tell me I'm "hatin'" and that this verse was incredible. Nevermind.

12) Cece's Interlude
For everybody to be whining about Thank Me Later being "too R&B," it sure did take a long time to get to the first full R&B song. Well I loved it. Very sexy, very sensual. If it were about a minute or so longer, it'd be a legitimate baby maker. Oh well, as it stands it's still a panty-wetter, and that's more than enough to ask for from a rapper.

Hold up, speaking of full R&B Drake songs, isn't there another one floating around somewhere??

13) Find Your Love
Ah, here it is, the other full R&B song, Find Your Love! For a second I was thinking it didn't make the album lol.

It seems weird we had to wait this long into an album to hear its 2nd single. I mean, how often do singles come from the back end of albums?? Not really a complaint though, more of an observation.

Anyway, Find Your Love had grown on me in a major way since it first hit the internets back in late April. As you might remember, when I first heard it, it struck me as an 808s & Heartbreak reject. Then I played it again. And again. And again. And again, until it was firmly planted in my brain no matter what I was doing. Now I love it. It still sounds 808s & Heartbreak-ish (that's how I guessed Kanye produced after just one listen), nevertheless it's a great song. Oddly placed on the album, but a great song nonetheless.

14) Thank Me Now
Though Thank Me Now sounds like a less hot remix of Jay-Z's Thank You on the surface, lyrically it's on point! Very clever wordplay and lyricism by Drake throughout. Makes you have to wonder where all these lines were when he was opting to lay down only 1 verse on a gang of songs.

Possibly my favorite bars on the album came in the last verse where he spit, "I'm in the world where things are taken, never given. How long they choose to love you will never be your decision." Sickness.

The downfall of Thank Me Now is the lackluster Timbaland beat. Tim is definitely one of the all-time great producers, but you'd think he'd lend something a little bit hotter to an artist who gave him a #1 single. Tim isn't the only one to blame though, Drake had to pick out and accept this track also.

Let me stop complaining, the album could've ended much on a MUCH worse note than this. I'm just happy he brought his A game lyrically.

Favorite Song:
Show Me A Good Time (Prod. By Kanye West & No I.D.)

Least Favorite Song:
Shut It Down (Prod. By Noah "40" Shebib)

This is an over excellent debut album from an artist who'll most likely be around for awhile. Hopefully it only gets better from here, and we're not looking back 5 years from now saying, "Nah, this 3rd (or 4th or 5th) Drake album still isn't as good as Thank Me Now. TMN was a classic!" My fingers are crossed already because when your fans have to go back and name assert that your first album was a classic, that probably means your albums that followed weren't as good.

Thank Me Now did flirt with perfect for awhile, but slipped up in a few areas after track 5. The biggest problem was not enough Drake verses, and too many features. In fact, of the last 9 tracks, 6 of them had features. That's too much for any album, let alone a debut.

Then there were the lack of Drake. Here is a break down of every song and how many verses each had:

Fireworks: 3 rap verses

Karaoke: 1 singing verse, 1 rap verse

The Resistance: 3 rap verses

Over: 2 rap verses

Show Me A Good Time: 2 rap verses

Up All Night: 1 rap verse, 1 featured artist verse

Fancy: 2 rap verses, 1 featured artist verse

Shut It Down: 2 singing verses, 1 rap verse, 1 featured artist verse

Unforgettable: 1 rap verse, 1 featured artist verse

Light Up: 1 rap verse, 1 featured artist verse

Miss Me: 1 rap verse, 1 featured artist verse

Cece's Interlude: 2 singing verses (1 verse if you don't consider that long silence in the middle of the song as the end of the first verse and beginning of the second)

Find Your Love: 3 singing singing verses

Thank Me Now: 2 rap verses

That's 14 songs and only 34 total verses, including 6 featured artists verses. Drake rapped a total of 20 verses, and sang a total of 8, which means we got 1.4 rap verses and 0.6 singing verses per song through 14 tracks. I'm no statistician, but that's not good. On the next album he'll need to carry more of the load.

One last thing, if somebody complains that Thank Me Now is "too R&B" or "too girly" please slap them for me, please. It's Drake's album, not DMX's. I mean seriously, what did they expect him to talk about his rough upbringing as a Jewish Canadian turned child star?? Besides, what was So Far Gone?? How could you like So Far Gone and not like Thank Me Now?? If anything, it just lets you know how many people didn't listen to So Far Gone and just jumped on the bandwagon because Drake got hot. And as Drake would so eloquently say: Damn.