Drake – Thank Me Later | Album Review

As a complete body of work, the highly anticipated Thank Me Later is undoubtedly effective and coherent. What it lacks in flair and punch, it makes up for in musical intelligence. Despite numerous (hopefully unintentional) album fillers there are many strong moments. Tracks such as ‘Miss Me’, ‘Thank Me Now’, ‘9am In Dallas’, ‘Light Up’ and ‘Fireworks’ serve to invalidate the words of Drake’s critics and will surely appease his die-hard fans. Although his metaphors verge on sloppy (the ‘punch line’ “Presidential suite girl. Barack Hussein” is a cringe worthy low point), lyrically it’s solid enough to assist an overall enjoyable listening experience.

Unfortunately a disproportionate chunk of the album’s content is Drake moaning, often accompanied by that wretched auto tune, about how being rich and famous isn’t what it’s hyped up to be. The use of auto tune makes otherwise strong melodies plastic and detracts from what could have been poignant moments. In a mainstream Hip Hop landscape where the themes rarely seem to deviate away from cash, cars and cattle (sorry women), his willingness to discuss something else is refreshing. However there is a valid reason why moaning about your privileges isn’t a respected art form; it gets boring. Very quickly. His themes may differ from the norm but their lack of variety means thematically it dries up mid-way through the album.

The LP’s biggest musical risk is ‘Karaoke’. A grossly under produced track, its main support is a basic drum pattern and a light vocal. However despite these factors it somehow works and makes a curious listen. Beyond this track the album remains inoffensive and conceptually isn’t particularly innovative. Tracks such as ‘The Resistance’, ‘Shut It Down’ and the self-indulgent ‘Up All Night’, which gratuitously features Nicki Minaj, do nothing to quell suspicions that his hype is unwarranted and premature.

Although it is doubtful this album will expand Drake’s following, there are enough good tracks to maintain his core fan base. Unfortunately there is no standout song that compels you to listen, ponder or even repeat it. For a young man who once bragged “buzz so big I could probably sell a blank disc” that confidence and self-assuredness is absent. The disc bounces between being banal and brilliant and at times Drake seems unsure of himself. As the album progresses it becomes clear diffidence is a key factor behind Drake producing a debut that doesn’t quite validate his sudden ubiquitousness.

Nevertheless, the album is a pleasant listen with enough high points to make up for the overall lack of adventure. If searching for something definitive or historic, this is not the place to look. However what’s encouraging is Drake displays great promise. After all even though it may not feel like it this is his debut album. He is a still a relatively new and young artist. If he takes the time to perfect his craft, the odd flashes of brilliance indicate that within him is an album that will silence his critics and awe his fans. Although Thank Me Later isn’t that album, its better moments demonstrate there is still hope.

–Christiana Mbakwe

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