If you don’t consider Nothing Was The Same as Drake’s best album, it it highly likely that you consider Take Care his best. This is a valid opinion as this album put Drake in a different stratosphere in the hip-hop/r&b world. Take Care is legendary in almost every aspect — from the cover art, to the features and production, and the amount of all time great songs it has. It is a classic in every way. This album is largely emotional and showcases the versatility of the artist by seamlessly flowing between singing and rapping — his trademark symbol of greatness.
One of the greatest things about this album is that it not only launched Drake’s career but a couple other artists as well. Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd were only up-and-coming names at the time. Both made appearances on the album and the rest of the story tells itself. I go more in depth about this specific phenomenon in a story about what I call “The Drake Effect”.
While I could sing every word of this album front to back, I will only be covering what I deem the most important or influential (so I’m sorry if I skip over your favorite song!).
“Headlines” is probably the most recognizable song on the album to the common listener. This song serves as a message to the game, even as a budding star at the time, that he is constantly making headlines. They know this too, whether it be his friends or enemies — they know about him. Despite all the expectations placed upon him, Drake has somehow surpassed and smashed records. Something unique to the album version of the song is the outro poem spoken by Drake, it isn’t in any other version of the song (single or otherwise, not even on the streaming version). Here it is in it’s entirety:
I heard once that they would rather hear about memories than enemies Rather hear what was or what will be than what is Rather hear how you got it over how much it cost you Rather hear about findin’ yourself than how you lost you Rather you make this an open letter About family, and struggle, and it takin’ forever About hearts that you’ve broken, and ties that you’ve severed No doubt in my mind, that’ll make them feel better
“Crew Love” is the vocal introduction to The Weeknd, whom helped produced somewhere around half of Take Care. The nuance of The Weeknd and Drake’s relationship is an interesting revelation, however won’t be covered here. This song along with the outro track, The Ride, introduced me to what would become my favorite artist and, eventually, one of the biggest artist in the world. The song itself is comprised of the chorus and opening verse sung by The Weeknd. The artist speak on the reality of stardom and how the pleasantries drown out the “what could’ve been”. Diplomacy and a normal life is no longer a possibility for these beloved artist.
“Take Care” features Rihanna and, according to Genius, is a “sequel” to Rihanna’s song, “What’s My Name” (which also features Drake). It is essentially a lover’s quarrel. The women claims, that despite the pain Drake has been through, she will take care of him. However, Drake knows of the lies and awkward situations he has presented. This creates a hinderance in their relationship, ultimately leading to a round about situation that leads to the events of the next song.
“Marvins Room”, a reference to Marvin Gaye’s studio (in which Drake recorded the song), is a drunken rant on the effects of a former lover. He calls this person and says that she could do better and he knows that she still has feelings for him because she picked up the phone. The drunken aspect of the song makes it an enticing listen as it makes it more entertaining to imagine the song as an actual conversation between two people. This song is largely considered the saddest and deeply personal song and serves as the perfect breakup music when you’re down in the dumps.
The “Buried Alive Interlude” introduces us to another superstar, Kendrick Lamar. He is the only artist speaking on this song and he delves into the way fame and fortune changes him as a person. The intro is an ode directly to the personification of success and an open admission that it is the death of the beholder. Kenny even goes so far as to explain the scenario that brought him to fame and success when he met Drake. He says to blame Mr.OVOXO (Drake) for the way he acts as he is the reason he introduced him to the vanity as they know it.
“Underground Kings” is one of the best songs on the album that capture the essence of “rapping” Drake. The song serves as homage to Pimp C, a member of UGK rap group with Bun B. The song is fast paced and highlights the path to success for the artist (with a shoutout to Weezy). Drake is a testament of hard work to his city and that is one of the most important things to him. This song is a break from the emotional songs before and gets the mind and heart racing.
Skipping ahead to “Lord Knows” featuring Rick Ross, this song is backed by a beautiful choir along with a hard trap beat put together by Just Blaze. The song is comprised of one long verse from each artist. This song is one of the examples as to what makes this album a classic. No one else in the game is dropping one verse that is over three minutes long then following with the always humorous Rick Ross. He questions everything from other artist, his own fame, the perils of said fame, those that speak on his name, and how he continues to be the king of the game. It’s a whirlwind of information rapped thematically around the choir and the notion that the Lord knows what Drake’s plan is. Though not a top three track on the album, it is far better with than without.
“Look What You’ve Done” is, perhaps, the most important song on the album. The song is a big thank you to Drake’s mother, grandmother, and uncle and their role in his success. It is admirable to sit at the top and look back down and remember the who and how you rose to success and publicly say thank you over a song. This song (above) is best to listen to rather than having it explained, as it has a sort of story telling element to it. At the very end, is a voicemail from Drake’s grandmother who is reminiscent of the times they had together. It serves as a beautiful ending to a great story.
Lastly is “The Ride”, again featuring The Weeknd. This song takes us on the way fame and fortune affects the world view of the artist and how it impacted not only him but those closest to him. There are three verses, therefore there are three different phases we go through.
First, Drake describes the initial aptitude of fame. He’s taking care of friends and family, the women swarm to him, he gets places he never got access to until the fame hit him. This leads to conflict in his personal life, which we see in the second verse.
The second verse highlights Drake getting ahead of himself, letting this droplet of fame get to his head. He makes rash decisions in order to maintain the appearance of fame, like leasing a Rolls Royce while still living in his mother’s house. At the same time, he no longer felt at home while at home. He would go to stay with his life long friend and producer, “40”, in apartment 1503. It would be here that Drake would spend huge amounts of money on the wrong things leading to more and more conflict. Those around him would secretly begin to hate him for these things.
The third verse is where he’s made it. After months away from home, he looks back to see what’s changed. He realizes not much has changed. This is commentary on how, despite the city making him who he is, he doesn’t necessarily need the 6 as much as they need him. As such, he detest the old saying “mo money, mo problems” saying he spent six million dollars on himself and feels amazing. He sees how the money makes him and those around him happy. In addition to the money, his freshman and sophomore albums are hits and the next two are bound to be as well (they were). He leaves us with the title of the album, take care.
The song and the album takes us on the ride of fame and fortune that Drake has experienced. However, he explains that we will never know what he has been through unless we experience it ourselves. Being an impossible situation, we can only imagine what the artist has been through to reach the heights of today.