Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thank Me Later - Drake

Thank Me Later Review

During the chorus of the song, Unforgettable, Drake claims that he “really hopes that you’ll think of me.” With that quote, it’s been simply what the whole musical world has been doing for the past year and several months now. Drake’s story has been quite phenomenal, from the relatively unknown song “Replacement Girl,” to the critically acclaimed So Far Gone mixalbum, the record deal, then the spiraling list of producers, guest features, and now here.

Honestly, through all of this journey, there’s been a lot said about Drake that’s already been said, and there’s a lot known about Drake that I probably don’t know, but you probably know already. So let’s get to the review.

Featuring Alicia Keys
Produced by Noah “40” Shebib & Crada

Thank Me Later starts with the production elements that first made Drake famous, Noah “40” Shebibs knowledge of engineering & drumming, along with the post- 808’s & Heartbreak production, lush and spacious. A bed of synths, samples of violins, and heartbeat drums, along with the beautifully sampled fireworks sound allows Drake to introduce us to the more famous him. Drake speaks upon his meteoric rise to fame, a past lesson from his girlfriend, and lastly, the profuse effects of his parents upon his character. Drake, although keeping the bar structure simple, provides us with such imagery, such as “My fifteen minutes of fame started an hour ago,” or “Got my mother in a place with some better decor / She search the entire city and I let her explore / And now she saying she more lonely than before.” Drake provides a lush introduction to the start of Thank Me Later, allowing the fans to not see him sccumbing to the pressure of talking about the past, trying to make someone feel sorry for him, but however showing us a perspective into all the hype, fame, and some more surrounding him.

I was reading upon other reviews of this same album, and it took precisely twenty five seconds for Drake to first mention the lines, “Money just changed everything, I wonder how life without it would go / From the concrete who knew that a flower would grow.” It’s already apparent that Drake beginning and upbringing is the polar opposite of his peer when they started. Something to note here, consider this a warning for the critic perhaps.

Produced by Francis & The Lights

Francis & The Lights, after some research have opened up for Drake in his past shows & done covers of Kanye West songs (One of Drakes assumed inspirations for this album) A minimalist keyboard along with a repeating drum pattern allows Drake to sing his heart about a past girlfriend, who seemed to be afraid of the whole fame that Drake had, and what her reaction was to it. She seems to be a wedding planner that moved to Alanta, and didn’t even know anyone there, all because “the spotlight made her nervous.” Interestingly enough, you can tell the passion from Drake from lines such as these lines, “I know they say the first love is the sweetest, but that first cut is the deepest.” However, apart from the neglect from Drake of the frequently told, “show but don’t tell,” line, Drake sings wonderfully, and more refined than he did in his “So Far Gone” days.

The Resistance
Produced by Noah “40” Shebib

The signature bed of synths, heartbeat drums are represented fantastically here, with 40 providing a off-beat drum pattern that Drake adapts to perfectly. Drakes speak on this resistance, which presumably from the song is the resistance to break mentally from all of the fame, and situations that constantly try to hamper him from acheiving himself. Drake speaks upon his perspective of fame in Toronto & around the world (Still with the same team I started with / The game needed life, I put my heart in it / I blew myself up, I’m on some matyr shit / Holding my weight for my city like a cargo ship,” and “I avoided the coke game and went with Sprite instead”), more disconnection from his family (“I heard they just moved my grandma to a nursing home / And I be acting like I don’t know how to work a phone / But hit redial and just see that I called a chick I met at the mall that I barely know at all”), and a harrowing robbery, all packed into one cohesive song

During listening to this song I was reminded of one of my other favorite Drake tracks, “The Calm,” and “Say What’s Real,” two tracks expressing Drakes ability to tell his own honesty in his own ways, usually self-depreciating and a borderline-depression. Drake’s been doing this specific niche for some time however, so consider this the part two of those two mentioned songs, to a very long line of Drakes introspective ways. This songs a lot to digest for any Drake fan, the atmosphere, and the attitude of the song is very descriptive and lush. Drake seems to have been through a lot in his rise of fame, from the jealously, mistrust, and the heartbreak that he’s related in this song.

Produced by Boi-1da & Al Khaliq

This song (presumably) continues on from the last line on “The Resistance,” “I just need some closure / Ain’t no turning back from me until it’s over,” and as Drake said it from there, he proves it nicely here. The first buzz single that Drake released, along with frequent collaborator Boi-1da’s hard-hitting boom-bap drums & violin strings, and a bunch of other oddities does this nicely. Drake speaks about basically, that “I’m doing me,” while providing the listener with the necessary punchlines to back it up (“I could try to make you speak my languge, Rosetta Stone”) Although the production is a little awkward for it’s placing after three soft / heartfelt tracks, it’s a nice song regardless, though I’m not really going to be listening to this, because it’s been played out somewhat. However, I do appreciate that Drake put this song here to make a change of pace for the next songs that come up.

Also, I didn’t notice that there was a constant sound of a woodblock on my right ear. I’m not sure why, but it makes the song a lot more listenable.

Show Me A Good Time
Produced By Kanye West

I was anticipating this track when I saw that Kanye West producing it, considering Kanye West has been gone for about eight months now, with about two tracks, “Power” & the snippet of “I’m So Appalled.” But, this is about Drake, however. A summery thumping bass, along with Kanye’s signature chipmunk soul samples start the song, then flourishes out into a classy piano, that allows for Drake to speak upon his version of this good life, and his famous lifestyle. Drake gives us some nice descriptions, such as,

“Cash Money, Young Money, pop champagne,
Presidential Suite girl, Barack Hussein
Tell me we can kick it like Phife Dawg
People really hate when a backpack rapper get rich and start living that life dawg...
Out in L.A. blowin’ clouds of the killa
But I came up in the underground though
So I’m a blow another ten thousand for Dilla…”

It’s a nice, pop song for Drake to rap in. I like the breakdown of the beat in the end, where it returns to the chipmunk soul / drum pattern too. A soft song, one of the areas Drake excels very well in., and considering he claims that “this our dream, Wu Tang Clan niggas want that cream,” it just might speak true.

Up All Night
Featuring Nicki Minaj
Produced by Boi-1da

I feel sometimes this is the first song that transcends to a moment where you’re going out on the city just feeling great all around. Simple claps & an everlasting vocal sample that continues throughout the song starts out this deceptively simple track, with Drake spitting the pleasantaries in his life, until the songs evolves into a ridiculous bass emenating, violin strings, synth blasting, monster of a track, all just for Drake to talk about the grandiose. Drake shows us that he isn’t a lyrical setback, dropping his signature odd one liners, like, “Uhh, I ain’t done trying to tell you that Drizzys nice / Bracelets saying you quit, cars saying f**k your life,” or “I made enough for two ni*gas, stunt double.” Nicki Minaj, whom I was quite skeptical about, doesn’t slouch either, with lines like “Which bitch made a million off a mixtape / That was just a keepsake ...” All in all, the production gives a demanding listen upon the ears, with it’s erupting sound, and gives Drake and Nicki Minaj a track to just tell about their success. The sound of the track is very intoxicating, from the bass lines and the dramatic feel of it.

Featuring T.I & Swizz Beatz
Produced by Swizz Beatz

Consider this the lavish moment right after “Up All Night,” for Drake, where it’s the fantastical party happening in the exquisite ballroom near the rivera. Swizz Beatz paints a beautiful picture, with fresh vocal samples & live instrumentation, along with his signature crowd chanting moments. Drake’s first verse, describing a woman prepping up for the party & after that moment, draws some similarities to Drakes verse on his remix of “Unstoppable,” where he also describes woman taking “dirty public transit,” and “papparazzi snappin’ candids,” and their “virgin island tans.” Drake however just put into a couple of more of his one liners, such as “... as long as they’ve got a little class like half days,” just for additional effect. T.I, fresh off his “F*ck A Mixtape,” gives us a smooth verse, describing the same life that Drake has been living, and although smooth, raises some questions of where T.I has gone from his “King” or “Paper Trail” albums, and is he going to be permanently on his “Whatever You Like” state of mind.

However, there’s even more to this song, as Drake somehow convinced Swizz Beatz to breakdown the song right after the lavish moments, where he raps about a unspecific “Cinderella” at this time. Drake spits lyrics that only this singer / rapper has only seemed to portray nicely with the small verse:

“Cinderella ’bout to lose the glass off her foot, and when I find it is when I find you
And we can do the things we never got the time to
Better late than never, but never late is better
Hey tell me time is money, but we’ll spend it together
I’m down for whatever, you just lead the way
We go to dinner you don’t even look at me to pay…
I just knew that she was fine like a ticket on the dash.”

Drake once again shows that specific aspect he excels in the best, which is obviously women. Although in the long while, may prove to be an overstatement, but Drake is probably one of the only rappers / singers who can pull off the R&B inspired love raps to a woman without sounding overtly cornball. He vividly describes a fantasy that probably someone was too afraid to express in true life.

Besides all of this Swizz Beatz does a fantastic job of adapting to Drakes vision of such an album. This song is a very interesting song, not because of the independent woman subject matter, but the presentation of it, including the fuzzed out breakdown of Drakes shoutouts, and the whole song itself.

Shut It Down
Featuring The-Dream
Produced by Omen & Noah “40” Shebib

Consider this the hybrid mainstream version of “Houstalantavegas,” and “A Night Off,” replacing Lloyd, with the “radio killa,” The-Dream, yet with all the love-making intact. A slow serenade of synths, keyboards, and steel drums play continuously on as Drake & The-Dream sing about shutting this place down, and making love. There’s no true complaints after I really immersed in this song, although The-Dream continues his typical corny lines, such as “Ice cream conversations, they want the scoop,” or “Like a computer, I’ll shut you down.” Although the song would’ve been production-wise, typical, at around the five minute mark, Omen & 40 allow the song to truly breakdown, into a synths-vibing, simple drum kicks instrumental, simply called Lay You Down, allowing Drake to sing even more, and even expose it more. As the whole product, the song works magnificently, but if the song was shown as individual parts, the song does suffer a little bit. Regardless of this, it really is a very laidback love song, and sometimes not enough words can describe a song you just have to listen too.

Featuring Young Jeezy
Produced by Boi-1da & Noah “40” Shebib

Firstly, a huge rest in peace for Aaliyah, as her vocal sample fits in beautifully over here. With the subtle electric guitars and signature soft synths, along with the snare drums, the atmosphere seems quite right for the contemplation and introspectiveness that Drakes been known to possess, along with his claimed “big brother,” Young Jeezy. Drakes speaks true to this songs purpose, speaking rather vaguely upon his quest to be one of the unforgettables, claiming this is “his dumbest flow ever.” Although Drake does mean well, his verse proves to be rather bland in comparasion to what the production does demands. After the very smartly thought out back & forth chorus between Young Jeezy & Drake, Young Jeezy proceeds to claim that this is his “realest flow ever.” Young Jeezy, although mainly known for providing the ignorant drug anthems that he usually does, gives a nice little verse that shows shades of the softer side of him. All in all, although this song is a little underwhelming to what the rappers provides, the way it’s presented suits everyone quite well.

Drake also claimed that this was his favorite song upon the album. I can visualize that, considering the atmosphere of the squealing synths leaning on the (my) right headphone, along with the soft, subtle tones really sound like the new “Drake” feeling.

Light Up
Featuring Jay-Z
Produced by Tone Mason & Noah “40” Shebib

Deceptively simple piano chords start out the track, but then proceed to become a lush & vivid atmosphere, with the production squad, Tone Masons sharp drums, guitars, fantastic piano & synths. It provides such a feel of the common traits associated with Drakes songs, feelings of contemplating, thought, swaggering, and so much more. Drake speaks upon the lifestyle that affects him right now, what associations he’s parlayed to now, and the ills that he believes can affect himself and everyone else, and what his dedications are.

Drake drops a bunch of lines pertaining to his perspective, such as “Rolexes, chauffeurs, and low fades / I keep thinking how young you can die from old age,” one example of his everlasting struggle to adapt to the lifestyle that people (such as Jay-Z) appears to live in, or “Yeah, and I’m a motherf*cking missed target / But a target none the less, and I just started,” another sign of Drakes vulnerability. However, Drake does drop his signature one liners, such as “Storytellers, and they ain’t even need a campfire,” or “Getting busy because I’m a star, no spangled banner.” However, I would like to point out this specific moment where Drake allows himself to give a true perspective upon this lifestyle that he lives with the concluding lines of his verse with:

“Welcome to Hollywood, don’t let this town ruin you
And if you pillow talking with the woman that are screwing you,
Just know that she gonna tell another ni*ga when she through with you,
Don’t get impatient when it takes too long
And drink it all when it taste too strong, yeah,
I gotta feel alive even if it kills me
Promise to always give you me, the real me”

Although these kinds of lines don’t seem particularly spectacular, in the whole spectrum of pop music, and Drakes common lane, he shows such a vulnerability most pop stars don’t truly express in such a simple way, where you get the true message in such an instant.

However, the ever famous Jay-Z drops upon by to seemingly give his own veterans perspective of a life that Drake is about to live. Although he gives some classic tongue in cheek lines such as, “Owww, Hov turning heads like, owls / I’m the man of the hour / Triple entendre flow don’t even ask me how,” or, “The smart moneys on Hov, f*ck what the dummys talk / I don’t do too much blogging, I just run around the town, I don’t do too much jogging,” a huge step up from his simplistic flow on the controversially talked about Blueprint 3, and an example of how Jay-Z still has that presence upon the microphone. Although he does give some nice lines, he concludes with a true veterans perspective that Jay-Z has been preaching for such a time now, with the ending lines,

“But these bright lights turned me into a monster
Sorry momma I promised they wouldn’t change me
But I would’ve went insane, had I remained the same me
F*ck n*gas, bitches too / All I got is this money, this will do.”

It’s a harrowing story from the drug dealer turned rapper in such a few lines, and the implications of this line, could possibly be a warning to Drakes, or any aspiring rappers career. After all, Jay-Z’s story is similar into Drakes into a few ways, through their specific point in time, they got their way through into the rap game. A very dark, and such a fantastic song for anything, from the demanding production of Tone Mason, all through the delirious verse of Drake & Jay-Z.

Miss Me
Featuring Lil’ Wayne
Produced by Boi-1da & Noah “40” Shebib

This song is interesting, because I couldn’t really find the meaning of it initially. Intitally, the song reveals itself to be Drakes evaporating trust of women in general, but in my thoughts, it looks like another song about Drakes walk into the fame, and that he hopes “... hope you miss me a little when I’m gone,” and then some. Although Drake does make a lot of references to the peoples / locations that are currently with him and on his mind, he provides some nice lines about his jump into his fame, such as “I’m about my paper like a motherf*cking scratch and win / World Series attitude, champagne bottle life / Nothing ever changes so tonight is like tomorrow night,” or “Yeah bills everywhere, trill everything / And Drake just stands for Do Right And Kill Everything.” However, besides this seemingly obvious subject matter, Drake does give us an odd part when he says, “I love Nicki Minaj, I told her I’d admit it / I hope one day we get married just to say we f*cking did it / And girl I’m f*cking serious I’m with it if you with it / Cause your verses turn me on and your pants are mighty fitted.” I’m not sure what that parts about though.

Lil’ Wayne is consistent as usual, giving us his usual helter-skelter, drugged out, non chalant flow, and the production front by Boi-1da & 40 is rather odd, with Boi-1das signature air trumpets, cymbal crashes, and a looming percussion background, combined with 40’s engineering skills. Not to say this song doesn’t work, but it’s a terribly weird song, just because there’s nothing specific that can describe it. I was a little dissapointed however, because I expected something similar along the veins of their obviously better song, “Ransom.”

Cece’s Interlude
Produced by Noah “40” Shebib

I really did like “Bria’s Interlude” on So Far Gone, using the “Friendly Skies” instrumental from Timbaland, slowing it down a little bit, and just singing about an unknown Bria that we may never know who. But however, 40 does give us a nice typical 40-styled instrumental, with steel drums & a lurking guitar solo in the background. Drake does sing quite well, with the melody of him and the instruments doing quite fine, but claiming to not want to be famous? Isn’t most of the album about him talking about being famous?

Find Your Love
Produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker & No I.D

808’s & Heartbreak. That was the same feeling that was evoked when Drake did So Far Gone, and it’s the same feeling that Kanye West evokes here too. The subject matter, the production quirks of the 808’s, pianos and synths are all unified into such a melodic song. I think it’s songs like these where Drake’s true pop-rap crossover really shines. Through the tiny synth squeals, the constant 808’s & and the deep strokes of the piano, Drake sings up a confessional tale of surrendering to a lost love, all packed up in a small package for the radio. With lines like, "I'm more than just an option, hey hey hey/Refuse to be forgotten, hey hey hey/I took a chance with my heart, hey hey hey/And I feel it taking over,” it seems simple why Drake is the pop-star he is currently.

Even when I intitally viewed this song, I still found the simple 808’s playing upon the background, and the twinkling pianoes, it felt like Drake actually wanted someone with a passion and then is on that struggle. Relatable, but in the new modern way.

Thank Me Now
Produced by Timbaland

The conclusion usually has to be stronger than the introduction or at least has to be on the same skill level. My Global History teacher taught me this, and this idealogy has stuck with me for the remainder of my freshman and sophmore year. A lot of people (including me) agree that this is probably one of Timbalands most hip hop / electronica inspired production in a while, with the bed of synths, the twinkling strings, giving a more sophisticated conclusion then most hip hop albums give these days. Consider this the fleshed out and heavily flourished version of “Outro” in So Far Gone.

Much like conclusions and ending tracks of albums, it’s usually used as the time to truly reminisce upon the course of the album, and the life of the star in general. Drake, much like his other rap contemporaries chooses this time to remember the past, and the future, and the fact that “we want it all, half was never the agreement / Who’d thought this route we chose would ever end up this so scenic,” which shows a simple example of the amazement a young Toronto teenager has upon discovering this life he lives now.

It’s also apparent that Drake realizes his new found fame, because some of his lines in Thank Me Now are occupied with him speaking upon his perspective in the music world, and just making some punchlines try to work. He speaks himself as being “on the brink of influential,” or that he’s “in this bitch shining, jump up in the sky and put the stars in alignment,” or the fact that he has “flows for the Marilyn Monroe’s,” and lastly the fact that he says, “I’m feeling like Nas, who am I to disagree.” While I’m not entirely surprised by these kind of lines, it’s an indication that this is one aspect of Drake, while awkward and rather conceited, he feels that he’s been in the position that he can describe himself this way. It’s a common testament, heavily evidenced by further lines such as when he says, “Damn, I swear sports and music are so synonomous / Cause’ we wanna be them, and they wanna be us.”

Of course there’s the introspective and reflective Drake albeit, a little mainstream reflection, but regardless, it’s reflection. All of the common aspects of Drake appears in this five minute song, and specifically with a title like “Thank Me Now,” you’d think that he would appear rather celebratory & introspective. I get a quizzical look with lines such as, “At this point, me is who I’m trying to save myself from / Rappers hit me up and I never know what to tell them / Cause they think that I can help them get back to where they fell from.” Not that I disrespect the honesty, but does Drake truly have that talent to ressurect a persons career? What exactly does Drake have that he can pass upon the generations of future rappers that influentials before him already did?

Of course, this seems like I’m becoming to harsh upon this song, because in the meanwhile, this song is quite entertaining and a smooth ride. Drake does show us his true introspective output, with doubting lines of his own character such as, “I think I have a chance at love but knowing me I miss it / Cause’ me dedicating time just isn’t realistic / Man the good girls went silent on me,” showing that even though the fame may have rushed into his brain, he still has time to set aside for his return to earth.

Even more interesting however is Drakes specific niche, as shown with lines like “do I ever come up in discussion over double pump lattes and low fat muffins, do I?” It’s that specific niche that truly defines Drake. Consider the Nas statement he made earlier. Drake may not be lyrically or stylistically like Nas, but he has that observation, while unblossomed, that key for observing his general surroundings and compacting them into a digestable verse / sound. Drake’s use of imagery, when he states “It’s December 31st and we in Miami just meditating,” or a simple mention of “OVO clique, Red Wing boot gang,” it’s a simple look upon Drakes life. Of course he also has to mention that “PAT ron straight up.”

However, all good things must come to an end, as Drake finally recites the lyrics, “And I’m aware this could be the last time you listen / So while I’m in this position, you could thank me now,” showing us, regardless of all the fame he’s achieved, if the idea of failure may cross paths, then why not take it. His fames been fantastically monumental already, and that if he chooses that graceful fall, at least he has Timbalands wonderful, lush string filled instrumentation to fall back upon.


On Thank Me Now, Drake said, “Shallow nigga but deep enough to go swimming.” Consider that what Drake is as the general characterization of him. Throughout the course of Thank Me Later, it seems like the continuation of what Drake spoke about in So Far Gone, the perils of fame, personal struggles, depression, pursuit of happiness, paranoia, anxiety, and of course, woman, are repeated in this album (albeit glossed up, but still)

But I feel that repeating the already known ideas is redundant, because there’s so many different views on the subjects that Drake speaks upon. However, on the song, The Calm, when Drake said: “Where dp we go wrong? Where do we belong? / Caught up in the game and it’s one that I can’t postpone.” These are one of many quotes which Drake speaks true of, because it’s just what he’s put himself into to.

I know that I overtly-praised this album on my initial listens, but that was because I have a bias for Drake in general, and I’m admitting it. But yet, with every artist that I admire, there are flaws to everyone one of them, and Drakes are even more emphasized (partly due to the mainstream hatred of people) Yes, he has terrible punchlines, he can be weird, his singing isn’t the most refined, and he is very superficial.

Yet, that’s what a developing artist does. Everyone does have flaws, but it’s the true test whether the artist can improve on these flaws or not. There’s a reason I keep on stating quotes from “The Calm,” (Part of So Far Gone, the last real track) and that’s because it’s what Drake predicted, even when he didn’t have a career. He was correct. He mentions his father in Fireworks like he did exactly on The Calm. There are people exclaiming ever so quickly that Drake is a leader of the new school and generation. Drake is still talking about his solitude and apparent lack of him fitting into society. It’s not to say that Drake is rehashing the topics, he’s trying to just express it in his own way, and you can’t really argue with that.

Although you can pinpoint it out easily though. Drakes overt bragging of fame on Show Me A Good Time, attempts of making that “certifed banger hood song for the trunks and traps,” on Up All Night, Drakes swooning attempts on Shut It Down, and the sorrows of fame demonstrated on Cece’s Interlude, and the plain weird preformance on Miss Me. Although all of them aren’t bad songs by any means, but it’s blatant, annoying, and hampers the listeners view upon this supposedly introspective / reflective and humble emcee.

There’s not much more I can say now that I haven’t said before for Drake, because it just seems that when he also stated in “The Calm,” that, “With my diamond chain is on, still nothing set in stone,” it spoke true throughout Drake’s career. He’s always going to speak upon the ills of his newfound fame, and more, because it’s come so quickly, and made such a dramatic change in this past year and this year when Drake suddenly rose up.

After all, he’s a “leader of the new school, it’s proven and it’s known, I’m sitting in a chair, but in the future it’s a throne.” Drake can easily make the journey into pop-star eternalization, only if he quits his punchline tendencies, marriage proposals, blatant auto-tuning. He then can adapt constantly, or truly carve out his lane in the hip hop game.

Rating: 80 / 100

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