Maybe the rapper Drake’s teen-idol past, Canadian citizenship, guilt-soaked verses about what seems to be a pretty awesome life, and those ugly sweaters just became too much to bear. Or maybe it’s just an inevitable side effect of astronomical fame. But between his major label debut, “Thank Me Later,” and its follow-up, “Take Care,” there was an undeniable uptick in Drake haters who bashed the rapper for being overemotional and whiny.
As is Drake’s way, he unpacks and analyzes the backlash on “Take Care,” but he doesn’t just talk about how it makes him feel — he refutes the criticism. Newly minted rap superstars deciding to take on their “haters” has led to the downfall of many a promising sophomore hip-hop album release, but here it works. This is partly because Drake’s rebuttals are elegant, partly because they’re surrounded by his usual emo fare but also because it’s just nice to hear him pondering something other than emotionally fraught relationships with exotic dancers.
Even those who hate to hear Drake rhyme and sing about love might enjoy hearing him rhyme and sing about hate. The “Take Care” track Drizzy’s harshest critics could potentially enjoy is the one that takes them to task. “Lord Knows,” a Just Blaze-produced skull-crusher, with its driving beat and gospel choir notes, stands in contrast to the rich, hazy production style that defines the album’s sound. Rhyming beside rapper Rick Ross, Aubrey Drake Graham sticks his chest out and proclaims that expressing his feelings doesn’t make him soft, and he dares anyone to say otherwise. The Toronto native has always interspersed confident boasting with rhymes about his insecurities (“Over” from “Thank Me Later” being a prime example), but there’s a difference between bragging and defending oneself from attack.