In New Clothes

    After establishing himself, perhaps unintentionally, as hip-hop’s Canadian nice guy, Drake has officially had enough. On his sophomore release Take Care he poses as slightly more p.c. Weezy, consequently allowing his emotive delivery and refreshingly earnest lyricism to fall by the wayside.

    Dance floor grind jam “We’ll Be Fine,” for example, incorporates a spacey production of a whisper loop with heavy bass and a quiet synth oscillation. But the track then takes a drastic turn lyrically, focusing unconvincingly on Drake’s own “gangsta shit” — which comes off as foolish more than intimidating.

    The rapper then aims for the hipster crowd with the title track. On “Take Care,” the xx’s beat master Jamie Smith creates a moody soundscape of swaying guitars and steel drum rhythms. Featuring a strangely emotionless Rihanna, the cleanly produced dance track chugs along with Smith interjecting vocal samples that, though interesting, clash with the vocalists’ lazy delivery.

    Most frustrating, however, are Take Care’s consistent reminders of Drake’s unrealized potential. Album highlight “Lord Knows” layers warped choir samples over a Stewart Copeland-style backbeat, as Drake spits some of his rawest verses to date. Finally waking up and taking some risks, Drake flaunts his seamless flow and songwriting ability, leaving us wishing he’d muster the confidence to embrace the boundary-pushing dweeb of breakthrough Thank Me Later.

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