Most of you remember Aubrey Drake Graham for his role on the hit television show, Degrassi: The Next Generation, a role that began in the year 2001 and ended in 2009. To some of you, he will always be the character he played, Jimmy Brooks. But ever since his role on Degrassi ended, Graham has burst on to the music scene. Going by the stage name Drake for his music career, Drake has become a very well-known name in the hip hop/rap world. He released a mix tape that was free for download on his myspace and it had everyone talking, including MTV. It even made it to mainstream radio with stations spinning the track Best I Ever Had. The mix tape was eventually released as a seven track EP on February 13th, 2009. The EP debuted at #6 on Billboard's Hot 200 which marked the highest debut for a Canadian hip-hop act.
With all of the success surrounding his EP, and being warmly welcomed by radio stations and its listeners, it almost goes without saying that everyone has been waiting for a full length album by Drake. Having close affiliation with Lil Wayne, Drake signed with his record label Young Money Entertainment in June of 2009, and in November of the same year Lil Wayne released a statement saying that Drake's first album had been finished. Despite his album being finished the release date was pushed back more than one time making the final release date, June 15th, 2010. Now the time is finally here and Drake's debut full length album Thank Me Later is being released. Although after listening to Thank Me Later fans might wonder why they had to wait so long. Sure, it is filled with collaborations with award winning artists like Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, The Dream, etc., but there are too few tracks that contain that "hot" Drake sound that everyone loved in his mix tape/EP. Drake definitely has a way with words; the rhymes and rhythms of his songs turn into one fluid and relatable story. But when all is said and done, his album is more disappointing then it is enjoyable.
Thank Me Later begins strong with the stunning track Fireworks. It is one of the few strong tracks on the album and it features the popular and talented, Alicia Keys. Drake raps about fame and love. Fame changed his life but he still wants a long lasting connection and relationship with someone. The song is the metaphor used to describe the kind of great love that he ultimately wants. Throughout the track, there is crackling that sounds like actual fireworks, which is a nice touch. In the chorus, Drake proves that he can rap and sing by showcasing his smooth voice; and Alicia Keys offers her beautiful vocals which is an effective way to re-iterate the message of the song.
The second track, Karaoke, had the potential to be a strong track but it ends up being a huge let down. Once again, Drake raps about fame and love. This time, his lady couldn't handle everything that his new life entails so she moves away leaving him worried and upset. The drawback of this song is that you don't actually hear Drake rap until the midway portion, and even then the rap is only 45 seconds long. The other 2 minutes is filled with Drake singing to a slow melody. This becomes borderline boring and might cause listeners to lose interest. Even though his vocals are good, listeners would probably rather hear Drake do what he does best. His rhymes are what successfully tell story of the song, and it is done with passion and conviction.
The third track, The Resistance is a track that has an excellent story behind it. Drake raps about fame and how it has affected his life, but the words he chooses to use will really make listeners think about the real impact that being famous has on a life. Unfortunately the beat and melody of the song is too calm, that it doesn't fit with the message of the song, causing the track to fall flat. Thankfully, the album picks up with tracks four and five, Over and Show Me A Good Time. Over is a song describes how there will always be someone trying to bring you down, but Drake makes a good rebuttal by simply saying, "I'm doing me, I'm doing me." This song could be a potential big hit on the radio because listeners will want to pump this track in their cars. Show Me A Good Time is a song that is about living life to the fullest. We are all looking for good times with people we won't forget. The track is fun and has a catchy beat.
Tracks six through eleven are all songs that feature collaborations from some very well-known hip/hop artists, but only one of these songs really stands out. In hindsight, Drake does everything right when it comes to collaborations. The songs start out with him, and the collaborating artist is not featured until the chorus or later in the song. This is usually what listeners want from collaborations, songs that are not completely overpowered by the other artist, but unfortunately for Drake, his collaborations really add nothing to the songs to make them better or stronger. Up All Night, features Nicki Minaj, and the song starts off really strong. It's really easy to get into with the beat, and Drake is rapping about the differences money can make. But then Nicki Minaj comes in, does some rapping of her own, and the song is ruined. Her part takes away from the song completely. The same exact thing can be said for the tracks Unforgettable featuring Young Jeezy, Light Up featuring Jay-Z, Shut It Down featuring The Dream and Miss Me featuring Lil Wayne. All of these songs would be better off without the collaborating artists. Young Jeezy, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne are all successful and talented hip hop artists in their own right but they each have a different sound, and this in turn takes away from Drake's unique sound. The only collaboration that does stand out is the track Fancy featuring T.I. and Swizz Beatz. It's a fun, upbeat song where Drake raps about the strong, intelligent, fancy type of lady he wants, and the story and sound of the song is actually accentuated by adding in T.I. and Swizz Beatz.
After several collaboration songs, the album moves on with track twelve, Cece's Interlude. Cece's Interlude isn't really a song, but it is what the track states, an interlude. It's questionable as to why there is an interlude towards the end of the album, but perhaps it was to provide a break after all of the collaborations. The next track is Drake's current single, Find Your Love and being one of the highlights on the album; it was the right choice for his first single. Find Your Love is about having options and trying to find that perfect person. It features more of Drake singing than rapping but it works. The song has a good dance beat and a good vibe. The album ends with the track, Thank Me Now which is a track that could be easily skipped. It doesn't really have a greater message or lyrics that can be related to, it's more about Drake rapping about the entertainment industry. Listeners might even want to thank him now for the album finally coming to a close.
After listening to Thank Me Later all the way through, there are only a limited number of tracks out of the fourteen on the album that really showcase the kind of music Drake is capable of making. Everyone was waiting for Drake's full length album and with all the anticipation, it was way over-hyped. Drake is talented and he has vision, but too much of his album was more about other artists' sound instead of his own. This can even be heard through some of the lyrics where it sounds like Drake was really rapping about somebody else's life instead of his own. Some of the tracks heavily resemble something Lil Wayne would put out. Let's not hope that this is a compromise Drake had to make in order to sign with his record label. Listeners want to hear more of the sound that they loved from Drake's EP with tracks like Best I Ever Had, and there are only a few tracks that resemble this sound on Thank Me Later, such as Fireworks, Find Your Love, Over, etc. With all the build-up surrounding this album release, it was a disappointing first effort. Let's hope that for future releases that Drake goes more in his own direction rather than someone else's.