He achieved commercial success with his 2010 debut Thank Me Later, but that wasn’t enough for Drake. The 25-year-old Canadian rapper-singer digs deeper on his sophomore album Take Care, grappling with fame and pouring out his emotions over the moody collection, with contributions from Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and more. Did he win over critics the second time around? Find out below.
USA Today: Drake deserves props for elevating his woe-is-me lamentations to a game-changing, bar-raising challenge to the heavyweights of pop, dance, hip-hop, and R&B. While Take Care‘s emo-rap won’t set fire to dance floors, hip-hop this soulful, smart and diverse tends to blaze its own trail. 3.5/4
Rolling Stone: Where Thank Me Later was airy and spare, Take Care truly goes for it with luxe, expansive production. … It’s what Drake does best, collapsing many moods—arrogance, sadness, tenderness, and self-pity—into one vast, squish-souled emotion. 4/5
Entertainment Weekly: It’s possible to lay out all your psychological issues on a commercial rap album—Kanye West does it all the time. What Drake needs is a few more punchlines to brighten up his monochromatic therapy sessions. C+
Los Angeles Times: The template here, and for essentially the entirety of Drake’s young career, is Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak. Drake shares West’s love for mood and never-ending existential analysis (80 minutes of it, to be precise). “Marvin’s Room” showcases Drake’s talents for both: he recounts how his sexual conquests are destroying his love life, sounding lost in murky, synthesized soul. 3/4
Chicago Tribune: With Take Care, Drake refines the formula. By refusing to indulge in the macho poses that have dominated mainstream hip-hop for decades, and blurring the line between singing and rhyming, he becomes instantly divisive—and occasionally he gets defensive about it. “Showing emotion don’t make me a [wimp],” he protests. 3/4
The Boston Globe: Some will insist it’s boring, listening to a young star complain about being a star. But Take Care is not about that; it’s about a person growing into himself, and smarting at the sacrifices required of all of us—famous or not—as we leave adolescence behind and grow distant from people we used to love. It may be mopey, but Drake is finding new words for ancient kinds of pain, and it is captivating.
SPIN: With Take Care, Drake has his accelerated Kanye West moment—when a little too much ambition and all the asshole feelings he’s got inside coalesce into an insular, indulgent, sad-sack hip-hop epic. 8/10
Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Crew Love,” “Take Care,” “Make Me Proud,” “Doing It Wrong”