Album: Take Care

Artist: Drake

Rating: C-

There’s an inherent contradiction at the heart of Drake’s music. Here’s a man who wants to rub your face in his success, yet expects you to sympathise with him as he ponders about how empty it all is. You should hate this guy, but Drake proved he could make his arrogance compelling on his 2010 debut, Thank Me Later. However, lightning does not strike twice on the follow-up Take Care.

If the sleeve is anything to go by, and it is, Drake’s ego is clearly on a rampage. Tracks such as ‘Shot for Me’ and ‘We’ll Be Fine’ are encumbered with a sense of entitlement that paint Drake as obnoxious and, worst of all, complacent. Even songs that once seemed to have a healthy confidence to them, such as summer single ‘Headlines’, are dragged down in context of the rest of the album.

Lil Wayne stops by to plot another milestone in his long descent and Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross both provide solid verses – the latter creating an entertaining image of himself and some Jewish gentlemen living it up in his local sauna on ‘Lord Knows’, a Blueprint-aping highlight. The Jamie xx/Gil Scott Heron sampling title track is monotonous and isn’t helped by the Caribbean grit of Rihanna, proving indicative of the album’s mixed bag of guest appearances

Andre 3000 delivers a disarmingly sweet and funny ode to strippers on ‘The Real Her’, while four collaborations with The Weeknd’s Abel Tesfaye prove to be among the strongest the album has to offer. That said, the centrepiece of the album is all about Drake, of course. ‘Marvin’s Room’ sees him on his very worst behaviour, but there’s an element of self-awareness that the rest of Take Care is sorely lacking. The song finds our man bored, drunk and feeling sorry for himself in the club, so he decides to call up an ex and coerce her into a night she’ll regret. It’s an ugly move he pulls solely to make himself feel better, but it’s a fascinating portrayal of a selfish playboy, probably the track of the year so far and a frustrating reminder of what might have been.

In a Nutshell: October’s Very Own puts his own delicate balance out of whack.