ALBUM REVIEW: Drake’s “Thank Me Later” + Reader Reviews
Few debut albums have been as eagerly anticipated as Drake’s. Critics, fans, and even artists have been patiently waiting for the debut album from “the future of hip-hop.” Unfortunately, Thank Me Later suffered the same fate that so many modern rap albums have, it leaked. It started with a few tracks and here and there. Before you knew it, there was more than half the album available. The entire album quickly followed. Hence my ability to give a premature review of Thank Me Later.
The album explores topics familiar to Drake: success, failure, love, change, and weed. Though a basic pool of topics to pull from, Drake constructs stories with a unique mix of singing and flowing, creating a body of work that ranges many emotions effortlessly. Drake’s debut album features a long list of celeb features. The album opens with the Alicia Keys-assisted “Fireworks.” The production is clever yet expected. Drake introduces the album with his most common theme, love and fame. The song is beautiful and airy. Word on the street is the second verse is dedicated to Rihanna. “Karaoke” revisits the theme of love, but specifically about love lost. He flexes some of his lyrical ability beautifully on this track. I wonder if this song is about the famed “Alicia.” The production of the album continues to sound more like picks for the next Sade album. A compliment, I am sure for Drake who has made it no secret he is a huge fan of Sade. The next track, “The Resistance,” features a tale of betrayal and lost love. The lead single, “Over” follows seamlessly. The tone of the album remains the same up until the next track, “Show Me a Good Time,” in which the background production reminds me of old school house music from Chicago. The theme has not altered though. Drake still explores the same story of success and the reaction of his old and new friends.
The more “typical” hip-hop tracks make an appearance in the second half of the album. “Up All Night” featuring Drake’s label mate, Nicki Minaj, ushers in the more familiar side of Drake. I find that Drake is quite successful when sharing the track with other artists. “Fancy” follows. Swizz Beats normally brings excitement to an album, but this track lacks any real energy. Despite the verse from T.I., I find this track hard to accept as a part of Drake’s debut album. He delivers an honest effort and the last two minutes are the standout portion of the song. It may have been better suited as a feature track on the “Fu*k a Mixtape” release from T.I.
The quality of the album picks up dramatically. One of the standout tracks by far, “Shut It Down” has improved dramatically from its original leaked version. The production includes more layers than the original, unmasterd release. The Dream and Drake both have added new verses and there is even a surprise in the last minute and half of the track. I appreciate the unexpected. Another great track, in regards to production and feature, is “Unforgettable” featuring Jeezy. The song opens with sweet a sample of Aaliyah’s “At Your Best.” Drake boasts this is “one of his dumbest flows ever” but Jeezy is the standout with lines like “I’ve done everything in the A but fuck Chili.”
Continuing the theme of excellent features, “Light Up” includes a great verse from Jay-Z. The Drake that fans know and love has reemerged to go toe-to-toe with Jay-Z in two great verses from the lyrical geniuses. Drake’s verse on this song is easily the best on the album. In addition, Jay-Z delivers a great quotable verse full of caution. “Miss Me” has been floating around the net, with and without the Lil’ Wayne feature. It is still a solid track and great follow up to the previous track. “CeCe’s Interlude” is a personal love letter to some phantom chick Drake knew and I find it to be a departure in sound from the rest of the album, well at least the latter half. “Find Your Love” follows with the 808s and Heartbreak-esque sound. The album closes with “Thank Me Now.” I find it a great way to end an album. It feels like a swan song. But is it the perfect way to end this album? I’m not quite sure. But he revisits his common theme of success.
In conclusion, Thank Me Later feels like a hodgepodge of songs where Drake includes a random mix of production and thoughts to appeal to the largest audience possible. Certified classic status?? Not so much. Solid album?? Indeed. At the end of the day, it’s the summertime and I want loud sounds and music I can dance to. This album is more appropriate for a late fall, early winter release. If the album would’ve have been released around Valentine’s Day like originally scheduled, I would find the theme and feel of the album more appropriate.
Standout tracks: “Fireworks,” “Over,” “Shut It Down,” “Light Up”
I asked for reader submitted reviews of the album as well. Here are the reviews I received.
Submitted by: Karson Chandler
Drake: Thank Me Later
Let me start by saying that the streets are talking and saying that
this is not the same Drake from his very popular “So Far Gone”
mixtape. My question to those, “Then who is this?” With the unexpected
leak of Drake’s highly anticipated “Thank Me Later” album comes high
hopes and expectations. All of which were reached with it’s early
release. With this album and selection of songs we see the same Drake
that we are all use to, just more mature and mainstream ready. Now
many would say there is a difference, which there is and should be.
But this difference that they speak of brings forth a more R&B savvy
Drake in “Thank Me Later.” After listening to the album 4 times upon
it’s leak I can see where one could conclude that notion. The tone of
the album is one that tells a story, so could you not expect a mellow
laidback selection of songs? I guess not because a track like “Over”
brought forth the Drake pre-Thank Me Later, but a one like “Find Your
Love” brought forth a more pop focused theme. So I suppose we did not
know what to expect with an album scattered with varying themes and
genres of music. But now it’s out and it’s hard. This album brings a
personal Drake and with that brings a flow of songs that tell a story
from open to close. The personal flair makes the album interesting and
relatable along with a slew of lyrics that are to die for. The album
is a very easy listen and should not be compared to “So Far Gone,” two
different albums with two different themes and moods. With this album
Drake was able to pull many A-rated artist such as Jay-Z, Young Jeezy,
T.I., and a few others, all artists that rather fit in or fulfill the
tone in which Drake sets in this album. But is this an album or simply
a mixtape? Come mid-June we will all know the truth, but if you ask me
“Thank Me Later” as it is now is one for the books.
Thank Me Later Review
By Kendra & Brandon
Ok, I’m going to begin this with some general thoughts about the album. Brandon says, “It’s the best R&B album of the year, no disrespect to the others though”. I say, “It’s the best well rounded representation of every time of music from R&B to rap and it is a just a feel good album. One thing we both agreed on is that Drake made great choices when deciding on the artist he collaborated with.
Fireworks: The album opens with a smooth and mellow track featuring Alicia Keys. Drake uses fireworks to describe the feeling of success, which I think is a great metaphor. This was the track that was rumored to have KOL (Kings of Leon) on it, which by the way is my favorite group. I actually think it may have sounded better with KOL over Alicia Keys, but overall it is a good track.
Karaoke: I loved the story telling in the track! I think a lot of young adults can relate to the track in some way. The story about losing a love due to outside interference (i.e. groupies, a life on the road, etc.), but still think about that person and wondering if it could all be different is def a track that makes one think. Not my favorite vocally, but lyrically it’s wonderful.
The Resistance: This is definitely classic drake. Sounds like something that would fit in with the so far gone mixtape or even comeback season. I love the fact that it’s extremely personal. Even though I don’t smoke, it is still a get high type of track. I kinda feel like I should be high listening to the track.
Over: One of the most standout tracks on the album and one of the only tracks that he actually raps on. I always felt like this was Drake sending a F**K U to all his haters and using them as motivation. A great radio banger as it already is.
Show Me a Good Time: My FAVORITE track!!!! I play this track over and over and each time I fall more in love with it. Listening to the song makes me wanna call someone up and just say show me a good time… lol. This is a just a feel good track…. One of those where u find yourself chilling with your ex or with someone who u never thought u would be around and u just say F*** it lets have fun! Now I do see people having to let this track grow on them. It is a different feel for drake and the production has a more Kanye feel than a Drake feel.
Up All Night: Brandon says Nicki showed Drake up on the track, but I personal don’t think so. The remix should def include Lil Wayne and maybe even more of Young Money. The song isn’t really a standout song and it sounds like something he has already done before.
“I look like Yes and you look like NO” Nicki Minaj
Fancy: I like the song, love the beat, but hated hearing swizz beatz voice. Overall, T.I. snapped and Drake held his own as well. T.I. is the king at making tracks that makes a lady feel like a lady, so this track is very fitting for him. Brandon loves this song. I on the other hand just like it.
Shut it Down: First words that come to mine…… one long ass song! This song is so long that my friend thought it was two separate songs. I personally wished that he would have split the song into two separate tracks, but hey it works. I love how Drake and The-Dream were going back and forth. I can see this going hard at the end of a party.
Unforgettable: This is a standout track. No one has ever sampled Aaliyah in this manner and it actually works. I do however think that Jeezy’s voice saved the track and makes the track obtain that epic fail.
Light it up: Jay-z and Drake….. #thatsall…. Naw, but seriously I didn’t think Drake could hang with Jay-z, but he did and he did it nicely. Now, I don’t personally care for the track, but it is a listening pleasure.
Miss me: I could have gone without hearing Lil’ Wayne!!!!! I actually wished that he would have stayed absent from the track and the album. This track always receives a skip action when Lil’ Wayne voice appears.
Cece’s Interlude: LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!!!!!! I wish this was a whole song. I would have loved to hear what he would have done with the whole song! But, on the other hand this would have fit better on a Trey Songz album than a “Drake” album.
Find Your Love: Lyrically great….. Overall it sounds like a Kanye rip off…… nothing else to say about that.
Thank Me Now: A great ending to an album….. This is typical Drake…. The Drake that I think everyone is used to and love…. Glad that he chose to do a song like this…..
Last thoughts: The placement of each track was great and made the album flow as a story book…. Also, fall for your type should have made the cut for the album it would have flowed nicely with the mood and the story that Drake was trying to portray. I just wished he would have took more risk and rapped a little more.
I’m glad to see the most hyped rapper finally drop his freshmen album. Unfortunately Drake proved that he is a mixtape artist just like his mentor Lil Wayne and any album he puts won’t be his best work. In his defense folks must remember his point of reference is different then most rappers as he doesn’t have the so-called rag to riches story as he came into the game with legit money. What disappointed me most about the album is I heard 40% of the songs prior to the leak, s/o to traysay8, my other blog peeps, and pandora radio for keeping me up on new music. Does anybody know why it a hour to download though WTF? I was happy to see the rap veterans like Jay-z and T.I. get on a track with him but in the future he should make sure he doesn’t get out rapped on his own shit LOL. The best song is easily “Thank Me Now.” I also like “Up All Night”, “Fancy”, and “Miss Me.” I sincerely hate the hook for “Karaoke”, and can’t believe he messed the Aaliyah joint up like that, it doesn’t even add to his verses. Overall I generously rank the album 3 out of 5.
Jimmy Quetron (follow me @jimmyquetron)
What do you think?? Agree or disagree?? Still don’t have it?? Cop it HERE. The album officially drops June 15, 2010.