May 2, 2010

For Promotional Use Only: Drake - Comeback Season (2007)




Yeah, yeah, I know, you're already annoyed.  But it's fairly impossible to monitor hip hop these days without noticing the name Drake pop up frequently, so if he's really being set up to be the next big thing in our chosen genre, why wouldn't I review his early work?


An obvious answer to that would be: because there are tons of other mixtape artists that you haven't yet reviewed, that's why.  And that is a valid response.  But I don't care: I found Aubrey Plaza Graham's second offering Comeback Season and I decided to write about it, if only because it frees me up to (finally) give my thoughts on So Far Gone, his breakthrough "mixtape".


Comeback Season essentially picks up where Room For Improvement leaves off, with Drake displaying the swagger of a successful rap artist (successful meaning he's made tons of cash, not that he's earned tons of critical acclaim) while still trying to prove to anybody who will listen that he can actually write a good song for all audiences.  It was with this free mixtape that Aubrey kinda sorta broke through to the American public: the track "Replacement Girl" had a video clip featured on BET, making Drake first unsigned Canadian rapper to ever have a video shown on the channel.  Because that's such an accomplishment; unsigned Canadian rappers are shooting videos and posting them on YouTube every fucking day.  Had Aubrey convinced The Weather Channel to show "Replacement Girl", then I would have sat up straight and taken notice.


Continuing the trend from Room For Improvement, Drake takes a self-effacing approach, taking the piss out of himself before anybody else even bothers to listen to the first song.  However, he's not actually disparaging his own talents: he's sort of like Eminem's Rabbit in 8 Mile, freestyling about his own foibles before anybody else has a chance to attack him.  This time around, though, the aforementioned swagger gets the best of him, and he isn't truly able to hide the sheer confidence he has in the booth.  Dude may have started out as an actor on one of the many Degrassi incarnations, but you have to admit, he takes to the mic as if he had been training from the womb. 


But neither one of you two care about that shit right now.  Is Comeback Season any good?  Let's find out.


1. INTRO
How can you possibly provide for your “people” if all you've pushed (up to this point) are two mixtapes that people can easily obtain for free? How much were you making at your shows, Aubrey?  Wait, no, seriously? Huh. You must have a damn good manager.


2. THE PRESENTATION
I like how the Drake songs on both Room For Improvement and, apparently, on Comeback Season (if this song is representative of the entire album) sound absolutely nothing like the songs that actually helped him become popular. Aubrey's lyrical flow is more engaged than it was on his previous mixtape, but these R&B-lite beats have got to fucking go.


3. COMEBACK SEASON
Jay-Z's obvious influence over Aubrey's work has never been more evident that on this title track. Drake's attempt at a Hova-esque introductory track is two songs too late, but it's still entertaining enough. It seems to end prematurely, though.


4. CLOSER (FEAT ANDREENA MILL)
Unlike most mixtape rappers that are only as good as their last punchline, Aubrey seems to know how to construct actual songs. Unfortunately, at this point in his career, Drake only seems to know how to write R&B tracks, which typically don't fly on mixtapes. This wasn't all bad, but it was quite dull.


5. REPLACEMENT GIRL (FEAT TREY SONGZ)
I'm getting really fucking sick of Trey Songz. That is all.


6. CITY IS MINE
The chorus is vapid and seems to have been crafted for a club track that isn't this song, but Aubrey's lyrics are accomplished, leading me to believe that he may actually do alright with his eventual major label full-length debut. Or, at least he'll do alright if he can keep himself from collaborating with Lil' Wayne on every goddamn track.


7. BARRY BONDS FREESTYLE
Drake borrows one of Kanye West's more unorthodox instrumentals and tries to knock one out of the park, albeit without the steroids that the man in the track's title almost certainly used. This is why I hate watching baseball. Anyway, in an ironic twist, Drake sounds much better over this beat than his mentor and BFF Lil' Weezy, who actually appeared on the original Kanye effort (and outright ruined it, in my opinion).


8. GOING IN FOR LIFE
Drake tries his hand at a storytelling rap with this effort, which takes a dark turn fairly early on. I don't believe Aubrey for a second, but the song is okay enough, and fuck it, it's short.


9. WHERE TO NOW
Which will now forever be known (to me) as “The Drake song where he invites you over to watch Flight Of The Conchords”. That's one of the goofier pop culture references I've heard in hip hop in a long while, but I approve, since I like and will miss the recently-canceled show, even though the first season was far superior to the second. The song itself wasn't very good, though.


10. SHARE
I'm liking the idea of having a bunch of short, incomplete thoughts on Comeback Season: no matter how lame a track sounds, it ends well before the listener gets pissed off.


11. GIVE YA (FEAT TREY SONGZ)
Meh.


12. DON'T U HAVE A MAN (FEAT LITTLE BROTHER & DWELE)
Points off for the generic R&B groove (there is a valid reason why I tend to not like most of today's R&B music), and points also deducted for the Napoleon Dynamite reference, as that film is overrated and really fucking stupid. Which leaves Drake owing me some points for listening to this shit in its entirety. Little Brother allegedly appears on this track, but I don't remember hearing either Phonte or Big Pooh, so there.


13. BITCH IS CRAZY
While I'm not sure why anybody would be “scared” (Aubrey's word, not mine) when the beat kicks in, I found this to be pretty funny. His desire to be known as both a rapper and an R&B singer (of the “singing out in the rain in a white t-shirt” variety) is also amusing. This wasn't bad, but the subject matter is truly better suited to an interlude than an actual song.


14. THE LAST HOPE (FEAT KARDINALL OFFISHALL & ANDREENA MILL)
With a self-important title such as that, you would expect a beat with more bombast, more excitement, more...just plain more. Instead, Aubrey gets something that sounds like an Inspectah Deck beat off of one of his crappier albums. The R&B hook is also detrimental to the cause. Aubrey and Kardinal Offishall sound decent, though.


15. MUST HATE MONEY (FEAT RICH BOY)
This is the most similar to Aubrey's most recent output as can be found on Comeback Season. It sounds custom-made for ignorant radio airplay, thanks especially to the guest appearance by Rich Boy, who comes off as a more coherent Ol' Dirty Bastard, and honestly, who wants to hear that?


16. ASTHMA TEAM
Clocking in at less than two minutes, “Asthma Team” is the epitome of a mixtape track: Aubrey talks shit without the aid of a hook to break up the monotony. This should have been much more entertaining.


17. DO WHAT U DO (REMIX) (FEAT MALICE & NICKELUS F)
Unlike “Asthma Team”, the beat on here grabs you immediately with its old-school feel. Although I'm not convinced that Malice (of the Clipse) was in the same country as Drake when this remix was recorded, Aubrey's flow steps up a notch, so he isn't fully eclipsed (ha!) by the underrated coke-rap artist. This wasn't bad.


18. EASY TO PLEASE (FEAT RICHIE SOSA)
The instrumental (which I swear I've heard before, but I just can't place it at the moment) is fairly awesome, and both rappers bounce off of each other well. I wouldn't have minded if this was a bit longer, actually.


19. FADED
Pretty corny, but the beat was okay.


20. UNDERDOG (FEAT TREY SONGZ)
Aubrey tries on a T.I.-esque beat and flow, and it fits him poorly. The sleeves are too short, the pant legs are too long, and the cap barely fits around his oversized ego. If this was meant as a joke, then it works just fine, but I have a bad feeling that shit such as this will be all over Thank Me Later.


21. THINK GOOD THOUGHTS (FEAT LITTLE BROTHER)
Over some livelier 9th Wonder production than I'm used to, Drake and his fellow Grammy nominee Phonte (for his side project with producer Nicolay, The Foreign Exchange) spit one verse each, and then the track suddenly ends. Aubrey's explanation is that he hadn't paid 9th for the beat as of yet, so he couldn't unleash the full song (and the final verse from Elzhi). The full song is now available on other blogs, I believe, and if this sneak preview was any indication, it may be worth your while to hunt it down.


22. TEACH U A LESSON (FEAT ROBIN THICKE)
Personally, I'm still weirded out that Alan Thicke's son (a) has a semi-successful career in music, and (2) is married to Paula Patton. And that weirdness overshadows Drake's random performance on this weak shit. Especially when Robin sings “Girl, can I frisk you? / You look so guilty to me.” Unclean. Unclean!


23. MISSIN' YOU (REMIX) (FEAT TREY SONGZ)
Oh man, this track is awful, even by rap & bullshit standards.


24. MAN OF THE YEAR (REMIX) (FEAT LIL' WAYNE)
Since I don't really follow the daily exploits of Aubrey, as far as I'm concerned, this track is the Patient Zero of rake's affiliation with Lil' Wayne and the rest of the Young Money crew.  Thankfully, Lil' Weezy only provides the hook and the concluding ad-libs, so Aubrey's endless stream of punchlines isn't hampered all that much by his presence. This beat is awful, though, so the last song on Comeback Season ends things on a low note.


SHOULD YOU TRACK IT DOWN? Comeback Season is actually boring as shit. (I wanted that to be the only sentence in this paragraph, but I'll extrapolate for the loyal readers.) Drake's preference for R&B beats works against his actual rhyming talent: this very mixtape may have inadvertently caused the need for an actual comeback from Aubrey (in the form of So Far Gone), as he could have simply disappeared off of the face of Canada after dropping this and his fans would have moved on without a second thought. A handful of these songs are entertaining enough, but most of them are defective. It almost makes me believe that his partnership with Lil' Wayne is actually a good thing, in that at least he'll always be able to outshine at least one other rapper on his collaborative efforts. Comeback Season is for the curious Drake completist only: everyone else can swim by happily.


-Max


RELATED POSTS:
Drake – Room For Improvement

13 comments:

  1. AnonymousMay 02, 2010

    It is always hilarious to me that brothers actually think they are a catch let alone worthy of every black woman out there. Robin Thicke on his worse day got his shit going on more than majority of you fools on your best day yet you stay hating. Paula Patton is a woman not a hoe. She would never lower herself to be with a man that was not quality. That eliminates rappers, athletes, and the majority of you guys on principal alone. Throw in Thicke is a successful writer, producer and artist, as well as being the man who has had her back since high school, why the hell is it weird. President Obama was raised by white people, but blacks have no problem saying he's my Pres, with no weirdness at all. In conclusion, the problem is not him, it is your dumb behind thinking you are the shit when you are nothing at all.

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  2. If your going to do Canadian artists Max you should DEFINITELY check out the new Shad (3rd album coming out May 25)

    Yaa I Get It.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Moge_dQPeU

    "Drop your gloves OJ!"
    "My Leathal Weapon one/won you don't get a sequel"
    "Rakim North Pole edition, listen"

    Also 2 other Shad songs not on his albums

    Muneshine F. D-Sisve & Shad - Gotta Feeling
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCx2Ru1ZrrM

    Shad - The Calling
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66pJSLKGnOg

    Dopeness!!

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  3. BioMenaceMay 02, 2010

    Do not see what the big deal about Drake is, he does not sound extraordinary and his songs are really forgettable, but maybe thats because I'm stuck in the past, but still can't find what all the hype is about...

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  4. I have to admit, I did not see the defense of Robin Thicke coming. That was a nice twist. The guy still creeps me out, though, so perhaps I should clarify that my comment was not one about an entire race (and it would be ridiculous for anybody to consider otherwise), because I don't believe there should be any sort of boundaries on who falls for whoever. This isn't a race thing, because I would hop in 2010 that people have truly moved past that: this is a 'Robin Thicke weirds me out' thing, simple as that. (Which, by the way, was the first sentence I wrote in that paragraph.) I wish him well, and I hope he inherits all of his father's Growing Pains money, but that doesn't change the fact that he creeps me out.

    Thanks for reading!

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  5. AnonymousMay 02, 2010

    Dude, I'm with Max. Robin Thicke is creepy. I think it's his douchestache and goatee. Personally, I don't think Max's comments are about race and everything to do with Paula Patton being hot as hell. I understand he's been with her through Thicke (see what I did there? It was douchey) and thin. But did I mention Paula Patton is HOT AS HELL! She could do better.

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  6. I'm not a fan of Drake... however, I am really happy that he mentioned the conchords in a song. this review actually just made me throw in my dvd which i haven't seen in a while.

    oh... i gg... i have an emergency band meeting to attend....

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  7. AnonymousMay 02, 2010

    max, you should review more canadian artist, including choclair and saukrates

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  8. AnonymousMay 03, 2010

    Flight of the conchords is New Zealand royalty. But I didn't make it through the second season.

    Blake

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  9. AnonymousMay 05, 2010

    Stop fucking with Drake and review Ghost's Wizard of Peotry album, please

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  10. AnonymousMay 06, 2010

    i did not read this review, simply because it's drake. you should be happy that i didnt, cus if i did, i would have noticed that you used the words "awesome", "okay" and "entertaining" to describe this. needless to say you would have lost another reader... max what the fuck? drake? A break from the weed now and then is good.

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  11. protomanMay 07, 2010

    wasnt drake on degrassi? this dude looks like he's nearing his 40s

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  12. man thisx nii55a isx the shit iDont CKare what anyone saysx, hesx the CKanadian lil wayne

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  13. Reading this review nearly two years after Drake's rise, it's incredible how your statements foreshadowed Drake as we know him today.
    "...these R&B-lite beats have got to fucking go."- 5 years after the fact and 2 albums later, the beats never left.
    "I'm getting really fucking sick of Trey Songz."- 'Passion, Pain & Pleasure' wasn't even released yet, along with another 10,000 collaborations.
    "...he'll do alright if he can keep himself from collaborating with Lil' Wayne on every goddamn track."- Yeah, about that...
    Also worth noting that this features Jay-Z influence ('Comeback Season' and numerous Jay-Z references) and a Kanye beat/shout out. After 5 years and a deal with Wayne, he's started a beef with both (the whole "You make friends with Mike but got to A.I. him for your survival" theorem. Wait, those are Drake lyrics...).
    Fuck it, though. I still like Drake.

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