“Take Care” propels Drake into the future with a boost from his past

Photo via Young Money Entertainment

Drake does his fanbase proud with his second studio album, “Take Care,” released Tuesday, Nov. 15. Between the introspective lyrics and a supremely swag assortment of featured artists, there’s something to be said about this sensitive – but not soft – album.

Drake — known earlier in his career as “Degrassi” star Aubrey Graham — confronts haters of “Thank Me Later,” his 2010 debut album, head-on with rich, hazy flow and new-age production techniques. Electronic beats and synthesized effects accompany the tracks’ somewhat somber melodies, which express struggles with life, love and money.

With a comeback like this, the Canada native has every right to be “too strung out on compliments, overdosed on confidence,” as he says in “Headlines,” the album’s first single. It and second single “Make Me Proud” currently hold American Top 40 stature – a fruitful result of the time and TLC that producers like Just Blaze, T-Minus and Jamie xx put into the album.

The album starts with “Over My Dead Body,” a piano-laden slow jam with a frankness that sucker-punches your heart in the chorus: “I know you don’t love me baby, the time to take you away from me only over my dead body.”

Women, loss, love and lies stand as dominant themes in the album, especially in title track “Take Care,” featuring Rihanna. The up-tempo, muted kick drum moves like a heartbeat and, in the track’s last 30 seconds, much resembles Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”

“We’ll Be Fine” emerges mid-album as a “carpe diem”-esque anthem. Drake flashes his high-life and success at just 25 years young, “Seems like yesterday that I was up and coming, still so young that I ain’t had enough of nothing.”

But then “Lord Knows,” featuring Rick Ross, left-hooks listeners with a gut-busting gospel choir accompaniment. It’s also a wake-up call to Drizzy haters: this rapper is on the offense, and “never hear(s) the disses they try and point out to me.”

Drake has a lot of big names featured on the album’s 18 tracks, but the greatest scoop may be his scoring Stevie Wonder on “Doing it Wrong.” This breakup ballad is a humble testament to Drake’s softer side and puts his teddy bear heart on display.

All these elements culminate in “HYFR (Hell Ya F***ing Right),” the album’s third-to-last track. Despite its placement, it’s the real grand finale, pulling together lyrical elements from across “Take Care” and referencing Drake’s humble beginnings: “She asks ‘What have I learned since getting richer?’ I learned working with the negatives could make for better pictures. I learned Hennessy and enemies is one hell of a mixture … damn it is the fall, time for me to revisit the past.”

Revisiting the past is well and good, but “Take Care” is an album about the future. It may be full of flashbacks and memories, but there’s nothing about this progressive album to suggest a lull in Drake’s forward momentum anytime soon.

By Heather Ronaldson

Special to the Tribune