I ♥ Tuesdays Vol. 3

At the end of my column last Tuesday, I mentioned I would use this space to delve into Drake’s sophomore album Take Care in time for the official release this week.  I began to do what I could to get ready: as much as it hurt, I put LiveLoveA$AP on the back burner for a minute and dedicated my playlist to getting acquainted with Aubrey’s new offering for a track-by-track breakdown.  But just as I was beginning to articulate my overwhelmingly negative opinions on the album, the homie Big Ghost unleashed his own views on The Kitten Whisperer’s Drizzy’s latest.  And really, how the fuck am I supposed to compete with Big Ghost?  The self-proclaimed Inventor of the Slap brings his A-game for this review, chalked full of enough hate to make 2Hands seem complimentary by comparison.  Ghost provides hilarious quoteables for days ; my personal favorite is the analysis of “Shot for Me:”

Im pretty sure that son gets up in the morning n plays his harp for his cats n then slides down the muthafuckin banister in his satin man nightie n has a full glass of breast milk before he goes to the studio n hammers out some pooned out shit like this b.

More importantly, the review eloquently ghettoquently articulates – perhaps in an exaggerated manner – the frustrations of listening to the record.  Though the review comes off as more of a comedy roast than an honest review, Ghost is rarely off-the-mark with his critique of Aubrey and his product.

There are several central issues that derail any promise the record possessed, and I’ll get to them in a minute.  First, though, I do want to give some shine where it’s been earned.  Drizzy deserves credit for keeping production in-house on Take Care, the large majority of which was handled by a pair of fellow GTA beatsmiths, longtime collaborator Noah “40” Shebib and summer 2011’s breakout superproducer T-Minus.  For the most part, the musical canvases are lush and deeply layered while retaining a distinctively clean and airy styling.  It couldn’t be a farther cry from the ruggedness of classic records like Return to the 36 Chambers or Illmatic, but the production team can’t be blamed for the failures of Take Care.  In fact, this shit might just sound better as an instrumental record.On a couple of occasions, Drake also manages to show off the skills that have so many folks itching to get to their local Best Buy come Tuesday morning.  Though the video appears to have been filmed on a VideoFACT budget, “Headlines” puts on display Drake’s undeniable talent as a maestro of melody as he effortlessly alternates between choppy aggression and his idiosyncratic sing-song delivery.  Drizzy comes correct alongside fellow T.O. representative The Weeknd on “The Ride,” a smokey jam dripped out enough to make Ben Stein feel fly. On the LP’s best cut “Look What You’ve Done,” The Harvester of Pauses Aubrey even shows improvement in his ability to craft the honest and vulnerable ballads that have made him a favorite artist of Jennifer Aniston females and sensitive types worldwide.Which leads directly into my biggest qualm with Take Care:  The piss-poor pacing and conflicted messages of the record make for a strange journey through sound that left me wondering who exactly Mr. Graham is and who he is making music for. The review over at the Mishka Bloglin summed up my confusion quite nicely:

If there was a specific moment where this album would sound entirely appropriate, it would be getting dressed in your freshest outfit to jerkoff to your ex girlfriend’s Facebook profile while sobbing gently. Simultaneously leaving vaguely poetic and emo messages on a photo of her in a bikini “…remember our trip out to Miami? I love’d it when your hair was still wet…” while writing amorphously boastful tweets about how you’re “killing the game.” If you’re in that very specific situation and mind frame, Take Care might be the most affecting piece of art since you saw The Notebook.

Even the unofficial compilation of promo tracks released in the run-up to drop day seemed to have a more clear direction than the finished studio product.  How does that happen with so many checks and balances in place?

The seeming honesty and humility put forth on So Far Gone is… so far gone.  But the problem is that he let us in on his secrets in the first place.  Look, Aubrey, we know you’re not a hood cat.  We know you’re not a boss, regardless of how manyCosby sweaters you put in your closet.  We know you starred on a Canadian teen drama.  We know you’re Twinkie-filling soft.  Just stay in your lane and make hits instead of trying to be that dude.  We will appreciate the music for what it’s worth.  An appearance from Kendrick was nice, but why did you hide his verse at the end of a record? And what happened to the promised Phonte feature?  The 9th Wonder beat?  You’re in a position now where you can make those moves, pay homage to those you say provided you with so much influence in the game, and still have high-school girls lined up at Walmart come release day.  Maybe it’s true that, as you say on “Marvin’s Room,” you’re having a hard time adjusting to fame.  It certainly seems that way, and it leaves me disappointed to say that the most famous hip-hop artist my surrogate city has ever produced has been reduced to a shell of the potential he once offered.


Fortunately for heads everywhere, Drizzy’s weed plate disc isn’t the only thing dropping this week.  Donald Glover is perhaps best known for playing the role of Troy Barnes on NBC’s hit sitcom Community, but that may change with the release of Camp this Tuesday.  Glover, who raps under the alias Childish Gambino, has dropped three well-received straight-to-Internet “albums” since 2008, and Camp will be his first project to be released in physical form.  Though Glover could stand to take some time out of his acting schedule and step his rap game up, his latest project has been garnering some positive early reviews, and at the very least, the video for lead single “Bonfire” makes for interesting viewing. There is also a pair of releases from Cali emcees that have potential to earn heavy rotation: Heiroplyphics affiliates Eligh (of Living Legands) and AmpLive (of Zion I) link up for Therapy at 3, a nice mix of nostalgic West Coast smoothness and the off-the-cuff quirks that keep these older Gods relevant in today’s landscape.  Another full-length collaborative effort comes courtesy of Locksmith, who recently linked up with thelegendary Ski Beatz to release Embedded courtesy of Ski’s Blu Roc records.  Though Ski isn’t quite drawing memories of his prime behind the boards (when he orchestrated the likes of Camp Lo’s “Luchini,” Jiggaman’s “Feelin’ It,” and Fat Joe’s“John Blaze”), he clearly hasn’t lost his ability knock out the odd banger, and Locksmith, though far from novel in his style, rarely seems over-matched by the production. Meanwhile, back on the East Coast, Artifacts alum El Da Sensei selects five of his favorite producers to remix cuts from last year’s GT2: Nu World for his latest, The Nu World Remix EP.  As far as free product, Big Apple veteran Scram Jones comes through with The Hat Trick mixtape, a collection of 16 original cuts that – while not as traditional as one might expect based on past work – puts on display the full array of Scram’s talent as an emcee, producer, and DJ.

The truth is my playlist remains A$AP over everything.  Rocky killed ‘em with this one.  But there’s hope:  With new records from Yelawolf, Action Bronson, and Mobb Deep coming next week, there is a good chance that Rocky will have some company real soon. Until then ya’ll, it’s The Blast.

Originally published November 14 at theblast-blog.com.

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