Saturday, June 19, 2010

Drake's new album 'Thank Me Later'

Drake played a show at the South Street Seaport, which is close to Staten Island - so that gives us an excuse to talk about Drizz- AYE.

The show was a disaster. Poorly planned, badly handled, the thing was shut down before it even started (barely).

But this didn't take away from the fact that Drake's new album, 'Thank Me Later,' is a tremendous accomplishment and may have single-handedly extended hip-hop's shelf life another 10 years.

Ever since the genre's beginnings, critics have decried the style as a 'fad' that would one day disseminate like, I don't know, break-dancing and track suits.

But hip-hop is still very much a part of our social conscious, even after a-holes like P. Diddy almost destroyed it with their abuse of sampling, emphasis on 'bling,' and shitty rhymes.

What Drake does is make the music relevant by not only doing something new, but displaying a keen self-awareness that only borders on Kanye's ego-trippin'.

Lyrically Drake is able to step in and out of his fame, providing running commentary on what it's like to be famous but not as shallowly self-reverential as his predecessors.

Drake both shows surprise and acceptance at his newfound rap fame, something his work as an actor may have better trained him to do. He repeatedly states that he not stopping while acknowledging that his "15 minutes started an hour ago."

Musically, Drake's biggest asset seems to be his much-hyped method of seamless transition from hip-hop to R&B, making the songs both spitfire verses and sing-a-long ballads. One problem, however, is that Drake is not a very good singer. He's OK. Though his lyrical flow is like a less aggressive Wayne, his singing does not reach the pantheons of R&B stars like Usher.

Although, the opening track includes Alicia Keys and is called "Fireworks," it does not attempt the over-the-top bravado of Jay-Z's "Empire State." Instead wallowing in the subtle bursts of booms and baps.

Drake is in his comfort zone, doesn't stray from his winning formula.

All this and more makes 'Thank Me Later' one of the best albums released so far this year, in any genre, and lives up to the hype of Drake's debut, displaying his laid-back style without overdoing it with fancy accoutrements.

Drake - "Over"

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