His debut album 'Thank Me Later'
His debut album 'Thank Me Later'
The most anticipated album this year ‘Thank Me Later’ has arrived from Canadian-born rapper Drake, who until 16 months ago was only known for his role as “Snow” in Degrassi High and now enters the pantheon of the rap game, delivering his own blend of hip-hop to our ears without disappointment. Drake’s unique style of sung-rapped vocals mixed in with mellow electro-synths takes his listeners to another level of hip-hop, while evoking the nuance of old school R&B.
From a songwriter’s perspective, Drake’s honesty in his music from production to lyrics is refreshing.
Coming from the wealthier ‘streets’ of Toronto, Drake strays from typical themes normally heard in rap albums and shows a more vulnerable side, talking about his insecurities with fame in ‘Cece’s Interlude’ – “I wish I wasn’t famous. I wish I was still in school” to his complex experiences with the opposite sex in ‘Karaoke’ – “I was only trying to get ahead but the spotlight makes you nervous.”
Though at times typically self indulgent and reminiscent of a Kanye–esque style of rap, Drake brings his tracks to life with a combination of original content and poetic story telling.
Strings, synthesisers, distorted 808s, fused with mid-range tempos is the canvass for which he paints his story. ‘Thank Me Later’ pulls on the heartstrings of old school hip-hop, bringing back the laid back groove that hip-hop fans have grown to love.
Extreme use of the plug-in ‘Autotune’ seems to be an exhausting trend for many of today’s rappers/singers but Drake compliments his lyrics by staying genuine to his vocal strengths, bringing uncomplicated yet provocative melodies to the table with relative success through such tracks including his number one single ‘Best I Ever Had’ and ‘Find Your Love’.
You know you’ve made it when you have the best crew of artists and producers to work with which include Jay-Z, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Young Jeezy and Swiss Beats just to name a few. However, where most of these big players would normally deposit their two-cents into the album, this time round Drake imposes his style on them, convincing these music gods instead to push the envelope and bring another dimension to their creativity, with great bars from Jay-Z in ‘Light Up’, and a softer side from Young Jeezy with ‘Unforgettable’.
Such a movement is only symbolic of the true artist Drake is, influencing the creativity of those around him no matter how famous they are.
Thank Me Later has definitely exceeded many expectations, through original thought and a fresh take on hip-hop. Drake shows how to make a great album while staying genuine, and if you only buy one album this year, this is the one to get.
Australian Filipina special guest music critic Daniel Ross is a singer, dancer, songwriter and actor. He was a previous cast member of Cameron Macintosh’s Miss Saigon and has performed in shows around Australia including the 2000 Olympic Games opening ceremony. Daniel has also spent some time in the US, writing with various R&B / Hip-Hop labels and producers. For news, vids and upcoming performances check out www.myspace.com/4tunedanielross or the official site at www.danielrossmusic.com