Throwback Thursday Review: Thank Me Later | Drake

Thank Me Now
BY EVAN VOGEL

Unfortunately, Hip-hop has always been known by many for the way artists talk about women, money and drugs. In all fairness, much of the genre is littered with misogynistic tendencies and a ridiculous urge to indulge in the finer things in life, however shamelessly. Now, while I’m not one to tell people how to spend their money, I would much rather hear about what comes with that fame. I think most would agree with me saying that stories about an artist’s rise to fame and their struggle with everything it includes like the alienation of past friends, relationship quarrels, or a fear of what the future could hold, are much more listenable than a grocery list of things that an artist spent their paycheck on. Maybe I’m in the minority, but listening to Drake’s introspection and the relational struggles of fame on his official debut album Thank Me Later, is incredibly worthwhile.

While the album naturally has its moments of selfish lyrical dribble, the 6 God’s main topic of conversation is reflection. Now that I brought reflection up, I have to get this out of the way — this album reflects more than Kanye West does in the mirror each morning. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. His reflection and heartfelt regrets come off as honest and you really do get the picture of a person who hasn’t come to grips with the new reality he lives. It has all of the required ingredients to creating and telling the story of a man who has reached a point of success he never even thought existed and trying to live up the expectations people naturally are going to place on him. His comfortability in this new lifestyle is definitely not assured. Drake’s new status has him looking twice at the people around him before calling them friends and his relationships with women seem to be doomed.

Right from the opening track “Fireworks”, he is putting everything out there on the track. Touching on relationships, his money, family, divorce, death, the search for himself and even more. The hook, carried by Alicia Keys provides a sombering but uplifting melody to keep the mood right. The second track, which is likely my favorite on the whole project, is “Karaoke”. It depicts a relationship that dimmed and withered away beneath the bright spotlights of fame. This is where Drake is different from most rappers. He completely comes across as heartbroken and vulnerable. This emotional presentation of self has become much more apparent and accepted today, but before 2010, most rappers and listeners would look at Drake as a soft crybaby (made apparent by endless Drake memes).

Drake is adjusting, not only to the new life he has found himself in the possession of, but he is also adjusting hip-hop in general. Drake’s style is his own. His delivery isn’t particularly hard-hitting but rather, soft and enveloping. The beats are less of a selection and more of a carefully crafted and laid out palette of offerings. Containing airy synths, light piano chords and some snappy drums, Drake’s voice is able to slide in between it all as if it is simply another key on the board. There times where Drake makes sure people know he can rap with the rest of the A-List. Songs like: “Over”, “Thank Me Now”, “Miss Me”  and “Up All Night” showcase this ability and show Drake in a much snappier and more wide-awake light.

By the end of the project, Drake has likely connected with the people that the rest of the hip-hop greats don’t target. The people who have lived an average life, in safe neighborhoods with friends, girlfriends and a house. You realize that the things that Drake is going through aren’t THAT terrible. After all, he is dealing with the consequences of having a lot of money and a lot of fame. It is eye-opening to hear how that life has altered his perception of life and how damaging it has been to relationships along the way. At this point, Drake wasn’t sure if he should be thankful for the fame or if he should despise how it changed his life so quickly. Me personally, I was thankful for the album that sprouted from this mental struggle when it came out five short years ago — and I will also thank you now sir.

8.8

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