Take Care (Deluxe Version)
Drake’s magnum opus Take Care is best compared to a fine wine: From the dark, warm tones of its cover art to the long waiting period between inception and release, everything about the album exudes opulence. And, like a vintage port, the album has aged beautifully, standing as one of the most beloved, most decadent moments of Drake’s illustrious discography. As the title itself suggests, Take Care is a testament to the theory that the best art requires lots of time. After receiving mixed feedback on his studio debut Thank Me Later—an album Drake himself felt was rushed—the rapper made a return to his own sonic roots, enlisting musical savant Noah “40” Shebib to spearhead his second studio album. Shebib and Drake drew on the very “Toronto sound” they’d pioneered—a sound that was situated at the sweet spot between rap and R&B, and that had defined Drake’s acclaimed 2009 mixtape, So Far Gone. The new strategy worked. Released in 2011, Take Care was an instant smash, debuting at the top of the album charts, despite being leaked online ahead of time. The rapper wasn’t shy about acknowledging the discrepancy between Thank Me Later and Take Care: On “Headlines,” one of Take Care’s standout pop moments, he raps: “I had someone tell me I fell off/Ooh, I needed that.” It was this honesty and vulnerability that allowed Drake to rap-sing his way into the hearts of millions of fans worldwide, ushering in a new wave of commercial hip-hop draped in tender emotion. But despite the album’s chart success—and its eventual Grammy win—Take Care is more than just a career-catapulting moment for Drizzy. The album also marked the mainstream arrival of Drake’s fellow hometown hero The Weeknd, who at the time was an underground dark R&B crooner releasing acclaimed mixtapes. Working as both a producer and a performer, The Weeknd would get a major status upgrade with the release of Take Care, collaborating with Drake on such tracks as “Crew Love” and “Shot for Me.” Elsewhere on Take Care, Drake proves that, though he was just in his mid-twenties, the Canadian child-actor-turned-rapper had mastered his identity. Rather than exuding a manufactured image of what a rapper “should” be, Drake is fully himself on tracks like “Marvins Room,” a hit that became known as the drunk dial heard ’round the world. And his fractured relationship with his father takes center stage on “Look What You’ve Done,” in which Drake recounts arguments with his mother, while also name-dropping his then non-famous ex (a tactic that became the rapper’s signature style). Take Care also finds Drake paying tribute to his Cash Money family members, including Nicki Minaj, who features on “Make Me Proud.” She’s one of several high-profile guests on the album, which also features turns from Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, T-Pain, and André 3000. They all share the spotlight on one of hip-hop’s most celebrated albums of the 21st century.