By Shawn Setaro
Rap Genius

Drake’s sophomore album is really his first album if you consider that Thank Me Later was a rush job. Now that he’s actually put a quality album together, we can finally thank him..

Rap Genius got the exclusive on the Take Care’s lyrics (Drake loves Rap Genius, says it’s his favorite hip-hop site!) — but then hours later, most of the songs mysteriously leaked

Is this lyrical hip-hop at its finest? It doesn’t even attempt to be. Drake’s album is heartfelt R&B sung in a lush voice. Andre 3000 and Kendrick Lamar provide the lyrical genius on their respective tracks. Like Kanye, Drake is a borrower. His album is a pot luck. The Weeknd brings the decadence. Rihanna brings the sexuality. And Drake? Drake is the Bar Mitzvah boy — he’s recorded an album that will undoubtedly make his mama proud.

theGrio slideshow: Top 10 rappers age 25 and under”>1. Over My Dead Body
Drake’s intro strikes all the notes — the girls in the strip clubs, the haters, the sense of world-weariness, the bragging about success — that were the hallmarks of Thank Me Later. This track, though, ups the ante by including some unusual (for him) wordplay and puns, including a relatively sophisticated one on “slave” and “field ni**a”. There’s also one instance of the so-called Supa Dupa Flow that seems to be mocking folks who picked it up after he popularized it. Overall, the mellow mood is nice, but there’s something a little too true about when he says, “Feel like I’ve been here before”.

2. Shot for Me
A revenge screed that, like all such things, tells more about the person sending it that it does the targets (one of whom is named “Alicia” — no last name given). This song marks the introduction of the “Take Care” theme, as well as the first of the everybody-in-Toronto-hates-me-now laments of which more later.

3. Headlines
On this, his second full-length album, we would hope that Drake would not have to use his half-spoken, half-sung flow on every. single. song. We would be wrong. Still, this Boi-1da beat is a highlight of the record so far, and we wait for the inevitable freestyles on it from rappers who can say, “You gonna f**k around and make me catch a body like that” and not sound ridiculous. The spoken word “open letter” that closes the song is more effective than the song itself and plays more to Drake’s strengths as a vocalist. Maybe a new career for Drake hosting Def Poetry Jam?

4. Crew Love
New hipster favorite The Weeknd get a nice feature at the top here, and Drake gets all emo about his friends (in a surprisingly non-annoying way). The tune does contain the first groaner of the album, though: “I told my story/And made his-tory”. Ouch. Still, Drake bringing “OVO and XO” into his heretofore relatively solitary rap world gives his universe a little bit of much-needed variety.

5. Take Care
Another, more straightforward use of the “Take Care” theme here, and a great-sounding beat, although these lush, keyboard-heavy arrangements are starting to wear on the listener now, and the album is screaming out for some sonic variety. Points for the Frankie Valli reference, though (to go with the Lesley Gore one in the following verse). Another alternate career for Drake — lead in a touring production of Jersey Boys?

6. Marvin’s Room
The first verse of this still sounds freestyled — not in a Common-burning-down-the-club kind of way, but in a drunk-guy-at-the-club-who-thinks-he-can-rap kind of way. Drake’s rapping and singing on the same track serves to make his relatively limited skills in each compliment each other. When he goes on singing for too long, as here, his whole project loses its focus, and his repetitive melodic ideas become noticeable. Still he manages, by the end of the song, to sound vulnerable in an effective way. To get there, though, may not be worth the cost.

7. Buried Alive (Interlude)
Kendrick buries Drake on his own sh*t, and actually manages to stay on topic and sound like he’s having fun something about Drizzy, something the man himself could take some tips from

8. Underground Kings
The UGK reference in the title seems to have actually energized Drake. He sounds alive here, making his usual themes (his background, Wayne, Toronto, strippers) sound newly interesting. Also, his Wayne impression is pretty funny. Third possible career for Drake: sub for Jay Pharoah on SNL?”>9. We’ll Be Fine
Oh, it’s the “rap” portion of the album now. Thank God. Drizzy’s putting a little bit of pathos into the “I’m a baller” rap lifestyle is a nice trick — it’s too bad he doesn’t use it subtly more often, as here, rather than shouting (er, singing) it out all the time. Also, please stop singing the last word of every line, fam. We’re begging over here. Also, I’m really upset that the “featuring Birdman” credit doesn’t mean an actual, you know, verse — just some ad-libbing on the end of the track.

10. Make Me Proud
It must be something in the air — this song is essentially a rewrite of Wale’s “Illest B*tch Alive”, though less offensive. Nicki sounds great, especially after that crap sandwich that was her album. However, her vocal ticks are starting finally to sound a little mannered. And she uses the Supa Dupa flow unironically, twice. So let’s call it a split decision.

11. Lord Knows
When I saw this was a Just Blaze beat on the, er, “liner notes”, I got really excited. I was not disappointed. Finally, a change of sonic scenery. Drake has a protesting-too-much line where he claims not to recognize subliminal disses directed at him. As a great subliminal disser once said, “We don’t believe you — you need more people”. Sadly, the verse that contains said line is a bit too long and not nearly as effective as it should be. It’s only after a few more traditional rap songs that Drake’s lack of internal rhymes becomes apparently — you are just left waiting for the end rhyme every single time. Good Ross appearance, though. So far, Drake is being bodied by every single guest.

12. Cameras
The one song so far that is an absolute loser — uninspired across the board. Drake sounds like he’s ready to take a nap, and even the beat sounds sleepy. Another career for Drake — hypnotist? He’s got the “You are feeling very sleepy” part down cold.

13. Good Ones Go (Interlude)
Another sung lament, notable mostly for its inclusion of another iteration of the “take care” theme, this time with the artist begging a girl to take care of him. It’s (a little) more interesting than it sounds.

14. Doing It Wrong
Of all the people in the world to get a Stevie Wonder feature, this dude gets it? Not people closer in spirit or sound, or rappers who could at least plausibly be considered a hip-hop version of the self-contained revolutionary genius that is Stevie? Or who share Wonder’s profound belief in love and humanity? No, he appears on a track on a dude who thinks “We live in a generation of not being in love” is a profound lyric. Great. Just great.

15. The Real Her
A trip back to the sound of the beginning of the album — spacious, piano-heavy, the spoken/sung flow. Regretful, sad-sounding lyrics about new girls and love (and possibly strippers). At least some actual rappers show up to liven up the proceedings. Wayne’s verse, while sub-par, at least ends with a joke, providing a bit of much-needed levity. Andre 3000’s verse is wonderful, and makes me sad that one of the top rappers alive seems resigned to providing occasional cameos. But much like Kendrick Lamar, he manages to take Drake’s themes on the song and make them come alive in a way Drizzy

16. Practice
Drake — an emotional man susceptible to the perils of fame — takes much succour in the company of strippers. This song tells a happy tale of the entertainment and company that these exotic girls provide to Drizzy (as opposed to the majority of his strip club songs, which tell remorseful tales of lost love and decadence..) After all, stripping isn’t the real game.. it’s just practice. (the Bridge of the song contains a well-placed allusion to Juvenile’s 90’s classic “Back That Azz Up”)

17. HYFR
Drake tries a triplet rhyme scheme in the beginning here, a la Hov’s “My First Song”, but a lot less successfully. The Wayne verse is a highlight — funny, playful, engaging. His verse shows, likely unintentionally, some of the weaknesses in Drake’s more straighforward approach.

18. Look What You’ve Done
A high point of the album, emotionally and sonically. Drake dedicates the first verse to his mother, and the second to an aunt or uncle (it’s never made clear in the lyric), and his emotional, melancholy vibe, as it turns out, fits talking about family a hell of a lot
better than talking about strip clubs.

19. Practice
An underwhelming album closer, though the Juvenile reference is appreciated. There’s a shout to his new home in Miami, which brings up the unfulfilled hope that this album would have dealt with his moving there, dislocation, relationship to Toronto, et. al., in a more in-depth way.

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