I am wholeheartedly surprised by how much I enjoy listening to Drake's new album, Thank Me Later. I am no fan of mainstream hip-hop. The only hip-hop groups that I can say that I actually enjoy listening to are Digable Planets, KanYe West (basically just this latest album though) and Aesop Rock. I've tried to get into other hip-hop, both mainstream and underground and it's just not resonated with me.
Degrassi: The Next Generation.
It was actually an excellent show. I would go as far as to say it was to our decade what Freaks & Geeks was for the 2000s and My So-Called Life was to the 1990s. The show used actors the same age as the characters they played, unlike, say, the OC, and dealt with hard-hitting issues (Degrassi tag line: "It Goes There").
His transition to hard-ass, pussy-chasing hip-hop star Drake (see leading image above) seemed drastic to me, but it had been a few years since I'd heard from him - maybe he had been transitioning his image for a while. I liked Jimmy, though. I didn't want another hard-ass MC rapping about drugs and sluts and money. It's overplayed, you know?
So I had no interest in checking out Drake music until yesterday, when I heard the track "Fireworks," a duet with Alicia Keys (an all-time favorite) on, of all places, NPR. I only got a 30-second preview, but was so enthralled that I went home and downloaded the album immediately. And I really, really enjoy the record.
It helps that the production is excellent. I think of Drake as a mixture between Lil' Wayne, with his slow-ass, boistrous, laid-back flow, and KanYe West, with his articulate-ness, and certainly the 808s-era minimalist beats. I think Drake has taken KanYe's experiment with combining hip-hop and minimal electro to its nadir. This album is beautifully produced.
But here's the thing that hit me: the lyrics. The first three songs on Drake's record sound like R&B, not hip-hop. They are personal, emotional songs (again the KanYe reference is necessary - I think 808s freed Drake to make this record), with Drake's lightly auto-tuned singing - about death and family and fame and doubt and love! Wait, this is mainstream hip-hop?
From "Fireworks," the opening track [mp3] :
Everything the same but it feels differentDamn, that's some introspective shit. Well, by hip-hop standards. Don't buy it? Here's part of "The Resistance:"
My dad called me up knowing that I still listen
And he's still got his foot out, guilt trippin'
It's been years, though, I just learned to deal with it
For real, me and my realtor we built up a better rapport
Got my mother in a place with some better decor
She searched the entire city I let her explore
And now she's sayin' she more lonely than every before
How many of our parents' marriages lasted?
I was only five, I bet I barely reacted
I'm flyin' back home for the heritage classic
Searchin' for that feelin', tell me where is the magic?
Let's stay together till we're ghosts
I want to witness love, I've never seen it close
Yeah, but I guess I gotta find it first
That's why I'm really goin' off, fireworks
I heard they just moved my grandmother to a nursing homeThere are the standard jams and "look how much money I got" jams but it seems like most of this record is chill and personal. I think the record is worth checking out. And so I don't get a C&D for hosting one widely-available mp3, I only posted it to give y'all a taste so that you would want to purchase the album with money from an online or brick-and-mortar retailer. That's what I did!
And I’ll be acting like I don’t know how to work a phone
But hit redial you’ll see that I just called some chick I met at the mall
That I barely know at all and
Plus this woman that I mess with unprotected
Text us saying she wish she woulda kept it
The one I’m laying next to just looked over and read it
I couldn’t tell you where the fuck my head is
I’m holding on by a thread its like I’m high right now
The guy right now and you can tell by looking at my eyes right now
That nothing really comes as a surprise right now
Cause we having the time of our lives right now
What am I afraid of?
This is what dreams are supposed to made of
The people I don’t have time to hang with
Always look at me and say the same shit:
You promised me you would never change