Drake describes his sophomore album as a tribute to his hometown from the point of view of someone who once felt like an "outsider looking in."
Now that he's one of the most talked-about MCs in hip-hop, period, Toronto couldn't be more elated, and yet, an overwhelming sense of alienation and sadness dominates Take Care.
It's an idiosyncratic, aggressively self-conscious and occasionally sentimental album, one that falls somewhere between languid, finger-snapping R&B and hip-hop braggadocio. Drake succeeds at giving the disc a sound all its own, distilling 90s R&B, Southern rap and soul influences into a beautifully realized mix of rumbling, low-end grooves and wistful introspective songwriting.
Take Care's most thrilling moments come when the romantic, singsongy flourishes connect with a confrontational flow or lyric, as on slow-burner Marvin's Room, the Weeknd-assisted closer The Ride and gospel banger Lord Knows. The prettier songs are enjoyable but tend to toe a fine line between soulfulness and schmaltz, like near-acoustic piano lament Look What You've Done and Chantal Kreviazuk's uplifting piano chords on opener Over My Dead Body.
Top track: The Ride