July 7, 2010

A Reader's Gut Reaction: Drake - Thank Me Later (June 15, 2010)

(Okay, let's go through this one more time. Today's Reader Review is brought to you by Red Magic and the letter “F”. Drake's debut album Thank Me Later, which I already trashed, receives the full treatment today. Be sure to leave some comments below, although I have a feeling that most of you two will agree with most of the sentiment here.)

From the sandy beaches of California to the industrial might of Tokyo, most people have at least heard of Drake. Although they may know little about his acting career and undoubtedly care even less about it, Aubrey Graham (man, what a goofy name) has, over a surprisingly short period of time, morphed from a no-name Canadian rapper into a celebrated hip hop idol.

There are various reasons for this, but the most obvious factor regarding Drake’s rise to prominence is his marriage of convenience with Lil' Wayne's Young Money crew and label. Obviously, Drake is a smart cookie, since everything which has even just a whisper of Lil’ Wayne will hit the charts and get some noticeable radio play. Indeed, songs such as his breakthrough single “Best I Ever Had” did exceptionally well throughout the Western Hemisphere despite its origin as a boring, unimpressive mixtape track. More importantly for his debut album, Thank Me Later, Drake was able to rally an still-increasing amount of support from valued individuals, most notably Kanye West, Alicia Keys and (dare I say it) Jay-Z.

To be honest, I have never cared all that much about Drake. True, I thought the So Far Gone mixtape had one or two good songs, but he did not nearly hypnotize me as much as he has the whole of North America. Furthermore, I've always regarded Wale as the more imaginative and developed rapper of the new generation, but his run-of-the-mill debut album Attention Deficit has entrenched him into the underground segment of rap. Nonetheless, I guess Drake sort of deserves attention since he has been labeled the next big thing and all.

Also, I have been fairly amazed how much attention Max has given Drake, so I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and critique the rising musician.

For the first track, Drake hands the beat duties to producers Crada and 40, who I have admittedly never heard of. To be fair, the production could have been worse, and the idea of fireworks beginning the song and ending it is not that bad of an idea. However, the first song of your debut album should be explosive, forcing the listener to take an actual interest in the artist: this track sort of jingles along without highlighting anything imperative. Alicia Keys merely crooning “All I see is fireworks / Every night is fireworks” is lackluster, and her feature could perhaps have been utilized more effectively. Also, from the beginning of Thank Me Later it becomes obvious Auto-Tune will be a vast part of the album, which does not exactly fill me with joy.

Drake merely spits one verse and glues the rest together with Auto-Tune. This song is boring as fuck.

Drake claims (unconvincingly) that he is not enjoying the life of a famous rapper. Once again, his friend 40 delivers the beat, and once again it’s not the instrumental which is terrible, but the end product. To me, anyway, Drake sounds like a pee-stained R&B singer (I'm not exactly sure what he meant, but I left it in because it made me laugh) and his phrase “Just like you said I avoided the Coke game and went with Sprite instead” was probably stolen from a Lil’ Wayne mixtape or something. (I think he may have actually drawn from his own experience as a Sprite pitchman, but that's just me.) Especially on a song with the title “The Resistance”, I never thought for a second that Drake would try and make the listener feel sorry for him.

The first single off Thank Me Later, and it’s pretty annoying, but it appears as though I'm in the minority. Still, hear me out: Boi-1da has already gained lots hype for his contribution to Eminem’s Recovery, and his beat is reasonable enough. Nevertheless, although Drake’s “Who the fuck are y’all?” question during the chorus is quite amusing, his sort-of response, “Oh yeah that’s right / I’m doing me”, is too goofy. I appreciate that this was released as a single, but I would have liked some more energy, and I still hold out hope that a lyrically stronger rapper will pop up on an official remix. Lupe Fiasco, I'm looking in your general direction.

The first of two beats from Kanye West sounds very similar to my baby cousin screaming, and, sadly, the sound emerges again during Drake’s hook. I don't quite believe this is a Kanye beat, although in fairness his contributions to The Blueprint 3 were not exactly spellbinding. Moreover, it seems Drake is trying to impersonate Kanye’s style, which I guess shouldn't be surprising. While it was nice of him to shout out the Wu (“Wu-Tang Clan n----s want that cream”), it is what it is: a depleted track.

The first guest from Drake's extended Young Money family hits the microphone and, interestingly enough, it ends up being the only individual who (according to the reviews I read) gained praise for her performance on Lil’ Wayne’s excruciating rock album Rebirth. Surprisingly, Minaj seems much more comfortable than Drake on here, which is kind of embarrassing. As for Boi-1da’s second beat, it’s actually pretty damn good, especially the spiral during the chorus, but Drake does not seem to know what he is supposed to be doing. (He obviously never paid attention to his own verses on “Over”.) Incidentally, am I the only one who thinks Drake’s use of the N-word is morally questionable? I mean this guy is a Canadian Jew who is merely exploiting African-American culture rather than actually being a true part of it. Maybe it is just me, but for some reason I feel ashamed when Drake uses the term. Also, his claim “We are in this bitch” sounds a bit awkward, as Minaj continually refers to herself as a bitch. Maybe I'm reading too much into this.

And then we are presented with this bullshit. Seriously, all you up-and-coming rappers out there should please make sure that Swizz Beatz never ever appears on your album as a chorus singer. Every bloody time I hear him trying to sing a hook, he fails miserably. Drake does his usual let’s-try-and-get-a-girl-by-talking-about-lip-gloss impression. Perhaps it is because I cannot see Drake as a ladies man at all that his boasts about getting lots of muff seem hollow. (Yes, I believe that's the first time the term “muff” has been used on the blog. Cue the balloons and streamers!) The surprise of this song is T.I.’s entry, which is actually not that bad. However, this is probably because I am getting tired of Drake’s rapping and the self-proclaimed “King of the South” (although a mediocre rapper at the best of times) is at least lyrically sturdier than his host.

On first glance, this song is far too long and should be at least two minutes shorter. Drake attempts to put his R&B skills to work, and yet his verse “Put that fucking dress on and work it kind of vicious / like somebody’s taking pictures” is too awkward for a romantic tune. Besides, Drake’s “lyricism” (for example, “Yeah, baby you finer than your fine cousin and your cousin fine / but she don’t have my heart beating in double time”) is absolute rubbish. I would be surprised if anybody could sit through this one twice. (So, of course, it's being released as a single. Go figure.)

Drake rips of Aaliyah’s “Let Me Know” and somehow makes a dull song even duller. As it is with Swizz Beatz, having Young Jeezy on your album is never a good idea, especially as he repeatedly underscores how “beautiful” his life is. Hopefully Jayceon Taylor won’t take Jeezy’s line “Like for y'all to meet the love of my life, her name's the game” too seriously.

The old warhorse of hip hop enters the arena over 40’s third instrumental in succession; this is probably his best of the bunch. It's obvious that Drake held back his best lyrics for this song, but to be honest I couldn’t really get into this one, especially after he yet again abuses Auto-Tune. Besides, as Jay-Z's verse on Dr Dre’s Detox single “Under Pressure” was a waste of space , I skipped his verse entirely. Sorry folks!

I must admit that I actually thought Tha Carter III was pretty good, but I guess most rap fans will ignore him eternally, and after listening to this I can’t blame them. Weezy has obviously been overexposed to the point of inducing nausea: from Fat Joe to Eminem, it seems that everyone wants a bit of Dwayne Carter, and I remember my friend cheering when I told him Wayne was going to prison. Anyhow, lyricism takes a backseat on this track, as lines such as “Kickin’ bitches out of the condo like Pam!” and “I am Weezy but I ain't asthmatic” will make even the most patient listener quickly skip to the next track. Moreover, I don’t know why Bun B appears in the background asking “Drake you got em, right” and Drake shunting him back onto the bench, “Yeah, I got 'em Bun.” I wonder if Bun B got money for his “appearance”, or if he was pissed that Drake stole his track.

There is really only one word for this song: worthless.

OK, this instrumental is actually effervescent. Thanks to Kanye and No I.D., Drake can imitate Lil' Wayne’s “Lollipop” song and continually croon “I better find your lovin’ / I better find your heart” as a hook, allowing the beat to work its magic. I actually like this song, and it is no wonder that Drake chose this song as his second single. I would be amazed if this refrain does not blow up throughout the world.

After Shock Value II, I thought that rappers had realized producer Timbaland was a spent force. Apparently not. Besides, I don’t exactly appreciate Drake asking us to thank us for this hogwash.

THE LAST WORD: Thank Me Later is an incredibly ugly duckling which has attempted to exploit Auto-Tune, but has dreadfully failed to satisfy the hype of a nation and turned into a catastrofuck. (I like that word too.) I do appreciate that most of my analysis has been full of Drake-bashing, as if Thank Me Later was executive-produced by Soulja Boy, ghost-written by Tony Yayo and promoted by Sean “Puffy” Combs. However, even Drake fanatics must notice the inconsistency of this album. On the one hand, Drake gloats that he is the paladin of rap and how he is enjoying all of the attention, but he then eats his own words by underscoring his desire to return to an ordinary life, cursing the money which has transformed him. Furthermore, this album does not bring anything original to the table, nor will it inflame the lyrical dynamite of hip hop. Essentially, Drake is the opium of North America, and only one beat by Kanye West manages to fuel some spur into Thank Me Later. Although I would strongly advise you not to wipe your ass with this (leave that job to your little sister’s Justin Bieber album) if you are still tempted, you should ask yourself, “Do I really want to buy this album just because the tornado bait horde has convinced itself that Drake is a noteworthy rapper?”

-Red Magic

(After leaving your comments below, be sure to check out my own write-up for Thank Me Later, for the sake of comparison.)


  1. A.R. MarksJuly 07, 2010

    Everything about this fucker makes my attention span go the way of Lauryn Hill's talent. He's what Kanye would have been without the beats.

  2. Hey Red magic... lemme guess you only listen to real hip-hop right??

    Not saying this album was good but it wasn't as bad as you made it out to be...

  3. AnonymousJuly 07, 2010

    Fuck Drake and a good review. Now can we have enough of reviews centered around this son of a bitch?

    More gangsta rap or fuck this east coast dick-sucking blog.

  4. AnonymousJuly 07, 2010

    drake isn't that bad.

  5. AnonymousJuly 07, 2010

    if there a Roots, Eminem, or Drake review next, ima...be mad pissed Max

  6. AnonymousJuly 07, 2010

    Do you get off on hating on albums that you clearly dont even want to like.

    The hip hop purists like most people on this site shouldnt be listening to this album your just gonna listen to it once and list is as garbage

    FFS do you ever enjoy these albums its getting boring now just constant hate

    Youve already formed your opinion b4 even listening to it

    Its a fucking good album just grow up its only music at the end of the day just because drake isnt a fucking lyrical genius and he is using mainstream producer doesnt mean its not an enjoyable album

  7. just so youll know, when drake said he avoided the coke game and went with sprite instead, that means he went to that purple drank. cause u usually mix the codeine with sprite

  8. Fuck whoever wrote this..
    You obviously don't know good music..
    Eat a dick while you at it yeah,
    fuckn hater..