If you didn’t like Drake before, then Thank Me Later shouldn’t change your mind. This album is hardly more than So Far Gone with a bigger budget; superstar features, all original songs (no Peter, Bjorn & Jon remakes here), plenty of singing and adorably* corny punchlines (she gotta have a little class like half days). It’s hard to hate on Drake, yet half of teh interetz does - mostly because of the hype surrounding him. His hype is not warranted; he’s a pretty good singer, and an above average rapper, albeit he does have some cringe-inducing punchlines at times. However, for every Gucci sandal he loses in the ocean, there’s a verse where he pours his heart out in a way that most rappers are too caught up in hip-hop bravado to make themselves vulnerable. On the album’s intro, Fireworks, alone he lets go of this gem: how many of our parents’ marriages lasted? I was only five, I bet I barely reacted/I’m flying back home for the heritage classic, searching for that feeling, tell me where is the magic?/let’s stay together til we’re ghost, I wanna witness love, I’ve never seen it close/but i guess I gotta find it first, that’s why I’m really going off; Fireworks
Karaoke is next, and it’s another great song to carry on the magic of Fireworks. Although it’s not the best song on the album, Drizzy’s opening verses of singing lead well into his rapped verses, where Drake again provides his usual introspective tales of heartbreak. The Resistance is next; it reminds me of Say What’s Real from So Far Gone, and it’s the first track on the album with a harder edge. I could quote some of the lyrics from this song, but I really rather not come off like a Stan, as I’m not - I’m just shocked at this point by how good the album’s going.
Over is next - and I honestly have such mixed feelings on this song. I like it, I do - but it’s so played out at this point. I listened to it repeatedly when it leaked, despite the fact that it’s really not that fantastic of a song; it’s really just average. The orchestral like sound is what pushes this into a song worth multiple listens, but neither Drake’s chorus or his verses are that noteworthy. Show Me A Good Time, Kanye’s other contribution to the album that’s not Find Your Love (which I won’t go over - that song’s still pretty terrible, although I suppose I can tolerate it to some small extent now more than I could). This is quintessential Drake on a dope ‘Ye beat; he actually has some of his Comeback Season flow on this track, and it’s refreshing. It’s nice to hear Drake change up the pace at least for a moment on the album, as despite his emotive raps being his greatest asset, there’s at least some light shining down on what should be his most triumphant statement.
I thought I was going to hate Up All Night with Nicki, but it was NOTHING like I expected. Easily the best boi-1da beat I’ve ever heard, this track goes hard as fuck. Nicki actually drops an interesting verse, and Drake goes in on his verse as well as the chorus. Fancy feat. Tip and Swizzy is next, and despite the fact that this was another track I was suspicious of, it’s another pleasent surprise. Clifford obviously drops the dopest verse on the track, as he celebrates independent women who ball as much as he does; however, Aubrey keeps the ball in his court, and never lets Tip steal the show. His opening verse is competent enough, but his closing verse which shifts through different flows and voice filters closes this song off with a bang. I’ve heard people say that this song isn’t neccessary, but I’m definitely a fan of it. Shut It Down is next, and the streak of great records continues here; this final version is epicly long, but it never wears out it’s welcome. Dream and Drake are a great collaboration, Drake’s outro is welcome.
My two favorite tracks are next - Unforgettable featuring Jeezy and a beautiful Aaliyah sample is the next track, and I can’t get over the chemistry these two have. I don’t know how some people can say Jeezy ruined the record; he sounds right at home on 40’s beat, and provides a great contrast to Drake’s soft-spoken raps with his collosal flow. Light Up with Hov is next, and I never went into any details about this track when it leaked. However, it’s probably my song of the year, as of now. Drake starts it off with a dope verse; not one of his best, and he does go off into his Weezy-isms on it. Despite that, he does Wayne better than Wayne does in 2010, and that’s not a problem for me. The real highlight of this song is Jay-Z’s God-like verse. I was one of BP3’s detractors, and I often believe Hov should’ve stayed retired; but verses like this remind me of how Jay was arguably the best rapper alive back when he actually wanted to be. Fired up by Dame’s re-launch of Roc-A-Fella and Beans’ many diss records towards him, Jay fires a barrage of subliminals at both and pretty much dismisses any shots they may throw at his throne in the future. I’m not saying Hov is back - I’m just saying that this verse is better than it has any right to be.
Miss Me with Wayne is next, and it’s the only Wayne feature on the album. That’s for the best though (though it’s strange, considering SFG has tons of Wayne features and Drake wasn’t even on YM then - or if you wanna believe the internet rumors, right after Drake signed to YM), even though this Wayne verse is decent (one of his best in recent memory, although it’s no Stupid Wild), I’m glad he left Drake get his own shine on this album. Cece’s Interlude is next, and it’s pretty much an homage to So Far Gone’s Bria’s Interlude. It’s good for what it is, but it is merely an interlude.
Thank Me Now is easily the best Timbaland track in recent memory. The sonic landscape on this closer is full of win; epic synths, and triumphant drums accompany this track, letting Thank Me Later go off on it’s highest note. I was afraid of this track when I saw the the tracklisting; I wasn’t really a Say Something supporter. This is nothing like Say Something, and honestly sounds far better than a Timbaland track should in 2010 - like Drake or not, but he brought out some of the best in two legends (both Hov and Tim) on this album after they’d long fallen off. Drake spazzes on this track, and it contains some of the best harmonizing and rapping on the entire album. Drake wins.
I already pre-ordered my copy; I was skeptical when I did, but I’m so satisfied now with the overall package. Thank Me Later is my favorite rap album so far this year (and tied for my favorite album overall with MGMT’s Congratulations), and I don’t know how anyone who was already a Drake fan was let down by this album. Critics have been harsh on it, and I don’t understand how. I suppose people can hate him now - they’ll thank him later. I’m giving my props to Drake when they’re due, though; he lived up to the hype and at times surprassed it with an album that’s about as solid as anything I’ve heard in the last 10 years or so.