It's been a long and eventful—mostly just long—day of reviewing every track on Take Care, Drake's sophomore effort, which leaked earlier today. Now that we've finished navigating our way through the album's 70+ minutes, we can do you the favor of ranking the songs from worst to best, letting you know how the songs you already know and/or love stack up against the songs you didn't even know existed until earlier today. Take a gander at our final Take Care rankings, and don't forget—the album comes out for real on November 15th. There are still bonus tracks to be had, you know.
No. ?: "The Ride"
Sadly, despite our best efforts, we were unable to locate a copy of closing track "The Ride," leaving Take Care ultimately as something of an open book for us. Perhaps this is the brilliant marketing strategy of Drake, to leak his entire novel without giving us the final chapter, thus ensuring our most rapt attention come November 15th. Personally, though, we're with Twitter user @killahsteez, who tweets "If drake doesn't release "The Ride", I'm going to illegally steal his first album again".
No. 16: "Doing It Wrong"
Sounds Like: Drake's misplaced audition tape for a Toronto R&B group, mixed with outtakes from Songs In The Key Of Life.
Pros: In the mind of the subject, this quiet break-up song presents Drake as the bad guy who doesn't think he's being the bad guy simply because he's being upfront about things, namely that "something's been missing" from the once healthy relationship. It's also further evidence that Take Care is arguably more of a R&B album as Drake sings his way through two tiny verses, spending more time hovering over the chorus' relentless instructions to "cry if you want to," and actually not sounding terrible. The slowed down tempo gets help from Stevie Wonder's harmonica and Drizzy's lingering "no no nos," which help to reinforce that this is really hard on him, too, even if some ladies will never be in agreement.
Cons: That's Stevie Wonder on the harmonica outro. Yes, Stevie Wonder. Why are we crying?
Emo Alert! "We live in a generation of not being in love and not being together."
Drake Hashtags: Sex guilt, Live fast, die young, Hoes in different area codes
No. 15: "Practice"
Sounds Like: An attempt at creating a slightly more politically correct version of Juvenile's "Back That Ass Up," that's more concerned with how "backing it up in style" makes a young woman feel, rather than the act itself.
Pros: Drake makes his first foray into a quasi-dance anthem by borrowing the city of New Orleans' love for partying and revisiting the 1999 classic, which we sincerely appreciate. Of course for Drizzy, encouraging women to dance comes with lots of feelings—in this case, pain and regret—adding layers to the meaning of "practice" that reach beyond the dance studio or nearest block party. In his appreciation of a woman and her attributes, he takes time to acknowledge what a good thing he's landed for himself ("All those other men were practice, they were practice / Yeah, For me, for me, for me, for me"). It's an understanding we'd normally expect other men to be boasting about in a much larger way, but as you've noticed, these moments of full-on bravado don't come all that often.
Cons: The Juvenile sample is a nice shout-out to Young Money's godfathers, but Drake's need to both sample the pulsating—and at this point, iconic—beat and borrow its titular chorus results in a watered down version which ultimately leaves us wanting to revisit the original.
Emo Alert! "Everything for a reason, There's things you had to learn from them."
Drake Hashtags: Young Money, Strippers, Hoes in different area codes
No. 14: "Make Me Proud" feat. Nicki Minaj
Sounds Like: A '90s R&B bump-and-grinder, at least until Drake comes in, raving about his girl who "sounds so smart, like you graduated from college." Like TML's "Fancy," most of the song features Drake extolling the virtues that set his lady apart from the rest of the crowd, but unlike "Fancy," the guest verse is (arguably) from the female in question—Nicki Minaj, who does her typical switching-tempos-and-voices thing over her minute or so of screen time, unapologetically stealing the show from Drizzy in the process.
Pros: The beat is pretty sexy—it actually sounds a lot like Portishead's "It Could Be Sweet" before the vocals kick in, though the similarity is almost certainly coincidental. Both Drake and Nicki have their winning moments, especially the latter, who ends up bragging about her lawyers ("Popped out, I’m the realest deal / Best legal team so the deals is ill") and memorably declaring "If I'm guardin' / Double D up, hos / Dolly Parton." It's about time the Harajuku Barbie paid respect to one of her truest and baddest predecessors.
Cons: As a love song, "Make Me Proud" rings kind of hollow, especially when compared to "Fancy." Whereas the latter was overflowing with (what appeared to be) genuine respect and admiration for the titular female (who dropped ten pounds for the summer not for her man, but just because she was the fuckin' coldest), the former seems half-hearted and patronizing, mostly saluting the titular female for going to college and not getting too distracted from her studies, even while on Spring Break. (Really that great an accomplishment, Aubrey?) And with the exception of the Impressions' "I'm So Proud," it's kinda hard to talk about being "proud" of your girl in a song's hook without sounding kind of like an asshole.
Emo Alert!: "It's just amazing, girl, and all I can say is / I'm so, I'm so, I'm so proud of you."
Drake Hashtags: Hos in different area codes, OVO
No. 13: "Shot For Me"
Sounds Like: The long-awaited release of those humble brags we knew he's been collecting since his Degrassi days ("Yeah I said it, bitch I'm the man / Don't you forget it") masked by the convincing faux sympathy found within his falsetto.
Pros: Like the opening track, Drake continues to point out his strengths rather than resume his position as a Master of Self-Deprecating One-Liner, which here would be apologizing for the infidelity rumors that ultimately caused the demise of a past relationship. He quickly and smoothly moves from sympathizing for his ex's current to state to absolving himself of all sins ("I never cheated for the record back when I was with you") across 40's growing beats, while adding in slight digs at his ex whenever he can ("Oh you mad cause nobody ever did it like me?"). We've heard him express his own regrets countless times before, but here he lets us know that the feeling is contagious, especially when you had the chance to be with someone as great as Aubrey Graham. Drake, is that you?
Cons: While turning to alcohol to commemorate a past relationship ("Yeah I'm the reason why you're always getting faded / Take a shot for me") lends itself a dramatic consequence for the young woman silly enough to break up with our fair Drizzy, bragging about how you encourage excess or can drive someone to destructive behavior comes off a little braggy and misguided. Isn't the revenge song enough? This rare wave of bravado and confidence, while appreciated in theory, ultimately leads to too much of a preachy place, with Drake's final statements bordering on self-righteous, hollow well wishes to his ex ("May your neighbors respect you / Trouble neglect you, angels protect you / And heaven accept you"). Said by the guy who's now without a girlfriend, and thus probably still a little bitter about it.
Emo Alert! "This is one I know you hated when you heard it and it's worse because you know that I deserve it."
Drake Hashtags: Toronto, Lies, Hip-hop royalty
For songs 12 through 7 off Take Care, click NEXT.
No. 12: "Cameras" - "Good Ones Go (Interlude)"
Sounds Like: The part of the album where things get slowwwwww. The beat to "Cameras" is almost narcotically draggy, with thick, menacing bass and foreboding guitar echoes accenting the head-nodding drum track, and a sample from Jon B.'s "Calling on You" occasionally providing a sort of aside from Drake's slurred vocals denying gossip concerning himself and a girl he's "with in all them magazines." By the time of "Good Ones Go," which is even slower and more minimal than "Cameras," the girl doesn't appear to be buying it anymore, and she's on her way out—though Drake instructs her "don't you go getting married, don't you go get engaged" on her way out.
Pros: The sizzurpy beat, helped by Drake's intoxicated-sounding delivery, gives the song a nice sense of sleaze—once again, like something you'd find on The Weeknd's House of Balloons—and the Jon B. call-out is a nice touch, as is Drake's "Only on cammmrra" chorus referencing Future's "Tony Montana," a fellow Drake-featuring Lex Luger production. And "Good Ones Go" is a surprisingly emotional two-minute transition track, much like "Cece's Interlude" off TML.
Cons: Seven minutes is a lot for the two-fer, especially given the two songs that follow, both of which follow on a similarly laconic pace. On an album that stretches to nearly 80 minutes—and begins to really feel like it does around this point—you have to start wondering if the song is really justifying the excessive run time.
Emo Alert!: "I shouldn't be much longer but you shouldn't have to wait / Can't lose you, can't help it, I'm so sorry, I'm so selfish."
Drake Hashtags: Lies, Young Money, Hip-hop royalty
No. 11: "The Real Her" featuring Lil Wayne and Andre 3000
Sounds Like: The last of the handful of tracks we've heard before from Take Care, and also the end of the draggiest stretch of Take Care. "The Real Her" is another piano-led ballad with minimal percussion and bass, as Drake sings about empty sex and partying, seemingly unsure if he's bragging or complaining. Like the last two tracks, "The Real Her" is minorly transfixing in its slow-and-low groove, and this one also has the added boost—in interest, if not in energy—of guest appearances from Lil Wayne and (unlike in the original version of the song posted) Andre 3000.
Pros: Well, the Andre 3000 verse is certainly a welcome addition, though you have to kind of wonder if a song like this really needs two guest verses—maybe they would've been better swapping out Wayne's yawner for Andre's ruminations on modern pop balladry ("Sittin' here, sad as hell, listening to Adele, I feel you baby / 'Someone Like You'? More like someone unlike you, or somethin’ that’s familiar, maybe"). And there's definitely something about the original's super-nocturnal vibe that gets under your skin, not unlike the way "Marvin's Room" initially did once upon a time, though without the instantly relatable lyrical themes.
Cons: That Wayne verse is just kind of a bummer, and considering he's coming up again on the album one song from now, his presence seems wholly unnecessary. Also, the lyrical content of Drake's original is a little vague to be all that affecting, and if you don't start to feel the album's length by the end of this five-minute number, you must be a really big Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness fan.
Emo Alert!: "They keep telling me don’t save you / If I ignore all that advice / Then something isn’t right / Then who will I complain to?"
Drake Hashtags: Sex guilt, Pianos, Live fast die young, Young Money
No. 10: "HYFR (Hell Ya Fuckin' Right)" feat. Lil Wayne
Sounds Like: The kind of Drake song that Lil Wayne should be featured on, a gung-ho anthem about embracing the life, and the women that occasionally come with it. Both rappers get one verse each, where they rap about a complicated relationship they had in which their careers got in the way, interrupted at the end by Weezy playing the part of a reporter asking probing questions ("Are you high right now? Do you ever get nervous?") and then answering his own questions in the most-emphatic titular affirmative.
Pros: "Hell yeah / Hell yeah, hell yeah / Fuckin' right / Fuckin' right, all right" is gonna make for one hell of a chorus sing along on future I Am Still Music tour installments, and the T-Minus (of "She Will" and "I'm On One" fame) beat is appropriately hands-in-the-air for such a statement. Not to mention that Drake makes for something of a hip-hop first by referencing George Strait's "All My Ex's Live in Texas" for the song's opening lines, which might be the most unlikely cross-genre namecheck of the 2010s. Hopefully the King of Country makes a cameo in the music video.
Cons: There's a pretty big disconnect between the chorus and the verses that precede it, and the pre-chorus of Wayne's faux-interview questioning, while clever, doesn't necessarily make much sense as a transition. Also, Weezy's line of "met a female dragon, had a fire conversation" is pretty blugh.
Emo Alert!: "Damn, is it the fall? / Time for me to revisit the past."
Drake Hashtags: Toronto, Too much drinking, Crew repping, Live fast die young, Hoes in different area codes
No. 9: "Headlines"
Sounds Like: Been listening to hip-hop radio much recently? If so, you probably don't need much description from us here, but if not, it's a mid-tempo-ish 40-produced number, with Drake's typical fretting over girls that "miss the old me" and haters who "tell me I fell off, ooh I needed that." It's a little over-billed by its title, since there's no real breaking news here, though the song's time-keeping synth hook does sound like it would make good intro music for CBS News or something.
Pros: As we hoped when we initially reviewed it, the song sounds better in the context of Take Care than it did as a stand-alone single ("We imagine that it’ll slot in nicely as maybe the third or fourth track"—bingo). The previously mentioned synth hook has just gotten more and more transfixing over the course of dozens of listens, and the simplicity of the vocal hook ("They know, they know, they know") while not an attention-grabber by any means, has burrowed its way into our 2011 musical subconscious. That 40 and Drake, they know what they're doing on occasion.
Cons: The song's themes are still kinda played from the TML days, and because he wants to give fans who have already heard "Headlines" a hundred times something new to chew on (or, if you take the cynic's view, a reason to re-buy the song on iTunes), Drake adds on a spoken-word outro to the song here that is most unnecessary. "Rather you make this an open letter...About hearts that you’ve broken, and ties that you’ve severed." Whatevs, Aubrey.
Emo Alert!: "Yeah I be yelling out money over everything, money on my mind / Then she wanna ask when it got so empty."
Drake Hashtags: Living up to the hype, Crew repping, Self-pity
No. 8: "Marvin's Room -- Buried Alive (Interlude)"
Sounds Like: A more expertly crafted late-night call than the likes of what you've probably left an old flame, complete with more profanity, and a new, potentially all-too revealing interlude from Kendrick Lamar.
Pros: After a few months of listening to Drake and every other artist in his contacts list take their turn at the drunken confession meets last-ditch attempt to salvage a relationship, these introspective and vulnerable rants have grown on us. Rattling off the pratfalls of fame, and likely those things that led to the demise of his relationship ("I think I’m addicted to naked pictures and sitting and talking about bitches that we almost had"), he’s asking us to feel sorry for him and accept these shortcomings, with the entire act of such a call being his biggest one. For those who’d rather do without his strained attempts at singing, the song really takes off at 2:56, as his rhymes are backed by punching bass lines (“We threw a party, yeah we thew a party / Bitches came over, yeah we threw a party”) that instantly make you bob your head, regardless of whether or not you've chosen to feel sorry for him, too. Twinkling piano keys give way to the new interlude "Buried Alive," a swirling, soaring confession from Lamar with a notable Rihanna reference that will keep the gossip hounds and hip-hop romantics talking.
Cons: At a little more than five minutes, the song maintains its gradual build before Drizzy's first rap verse, which we still wish would arrive earlier. After a fleeting, flirtation with rapping and truly having no filter ("I’ve had sex four times this week, I’ll explain / Having a hard time adjusting to fame”) we soon return to the less revealing pity party we began with, and countless selfish declarations that she could "do better." But we guess that always means there's room for a Part Two somewhere down the line.
Emo Alert! "Talk to me please, don't have much to believe in / I need you right now, are you down to listen to me?"
Drake Hashtag: Drinking too much, Sex guilt, Live fast, die young
No. 7: "Crew Love"
Sounds Like: Any of The Weeknd's mixtapes from earlier this year, remixed with a surprise guest verse by Drake.
Pros: Drake hasn't been quiet about praising his fellow Toronto native, and here he allows him to take over the track entirely. His complicated voice gives an otherwise standard clique anthem about local spots and careless spending much more depth and undercutting its pounding, introductory synths. While Drake likes to insist that he's still just a boy from the T.O.—one who travels the world and hangs with Lil Wayne, natch—Abel Tesfaye, with all of his self-constructed mystery, and at this point, comparable obscurity, keeps things grounded with mentions of bars and fake IDs that are more identifiable to those of us whose crew can't afford Maybachs just yet.
Cons: While his voice is layered, the chorus can get repetitive. If you're not a fan of The Weeknd, you'll feel this song lacks an equal contribution from Drake. But if you are, Drizzy's verse might just feel like an annoying distraction.
Emo Alert! "And really, I think I like who I'm becoming."
Drake Hashtags: Toronto, OVOXO, Live fast, die young, Crew repping
For songs 6 through 1 off Take Care, click NEXT.
No. 6: "Underground Kings"
Sounds Like: Well, it's a 9th Wonder production, apparently, but we could've sworn The Weeknd was somehow involved—the icy guitar lick that gives the beat its backbone is unmistakably reminiscent of the Siouxsie and the Banshees riff lift that made House of Balloons' "Happy House" such a stunner. In any event, it's one of the song's most upbeat numbers, and also reminds of Drake's Carter IV contribution "She Will"—not the least of which because he makes several Weezy references on the track, quoting his rhyming on both "Neck of the Woods" and "Duffle Bag Boy." Don't be surprised if it ends up as a single.
Pros: The previously mentioned guitar riff is an excellent hook for the song, and it inspires Drake to sounding more animated than he has anywhere on the album up to this point. The chorus is his best since TML's "Miss Me," and both "I bet we could make tonight the greatest story ever told" and "UGK / Fuck these other ni***as" could very well end up being the source of as many retweets as "All I care about is money and the city where I'm from" was over the summer. The Weezy tributes are nice, too.
Cons: Drake stumbles a little out of the gate ("Bridge over troubled water / ice in my muddy water / Rich off a mixtape, got rich off a mixtape"), and the song ends a little too suddenly—for once, a guest verse actually would've been not just forgivable, but appreciated. Still, it's hard to complain about just about anything in between.
Emo Alert!: "Yeah need that, making major changes to the life I’m living / I had no choice, I had to prove I made the right decisions"
Drake Hashtags: Drinking too much, Young Money, Toronto, Strippers, Hip-hop royalty, Crew repping
No. 5: "We'll Be Fine" Feat. Birdman
Sounds Like: The cocky, self-assured anthem Drake so rarely is willing to go in on by himself.
Pros: Trying out different styles of delivery, Drake moves through the first verse with both staccato-like chanting ("Do you like your new room?") before letting stray declarations of wonderment ("lord") hang on the ends of certain lines as he lends his appreciation to both the late Aaliyah and fellow Young Money member Nicki Minaj. When addressing anonymous females he's acquired a new brash swagger—without much help from his peers—that sheds much of his past hesitation and long-winded explanations as to why it might be nice if a respectable young woman should ever decide to leave with him, and just cuts to the chase: "Let's be real about this shit, can I take you home?"
Cons: The use of drinking metaphors and very repetitive chorus ("Are you down, are you down? Yeah I'm all the way down") similarly heard on "Headlines" and "Make Me Proud" reappear here, if only to help Velcro this newfound regret-free Drizzy to your memory bank. Despite Drake actually showing some range in terms of his flow, the addition of Birdman falls flat, failing to utilize him as anything other than a reminder that although Drake spends a lot of time reminding us of OVOXO, he's part of a larger family.
Emo Alert! "Even though dying isn't in the plans, but neither was making it and here I am."
Drake Hashtag: Drinking too much, Haters, Toronto, Live fast, die young
No. 4: Look What You've Done
Sounds Like: The sentiment behind Kanye West's "Hey Mama," dedicated to more than one powerful female role model in Drizzy's life, spoken matter-of-factly over a faint piano.
Pros: It's an incredibly revealing look at the people who helped make Drake the man he is, including references to how his initial communication with Lil Wayne and departure from the world of acting led him to where he is now. Drake has never been this candid about his family before, as he dedicates verses to the inspiring women in his life while recounting his mother's health struggles and the at times strained relationship he's had with his father, without seek pity or sympathy from his listener. In fact, though he takes a guilt-free approach to being emotional, he infers that personal obstacles don't warrant listener coddling, following one revealing line with his own sarcastic, self-mocking aside ("Boo-hoo, sad story. Black American dad story"). While his mother and aunt get the biggest accolades and direct references, there's an all too cute voicemail from his grandmother tacked on at the end, lest you ever forget his full name.
Cons: As personal as his lyrics are, there's a slight disconnect between his flat, straightforward delivery and what we expect the words to convey. While we appreciate his dodging of the schmaltz, it's hard to understand if we should sing or rap along, or simply appreciate the insight it provides.
Emo Alert! "Boo-hoo. Sad story."
Drake Hashtags: Pianos, Toronto, Feminine Side
No. 3: "Over My Dead Body"
Sounds Like: A plaintive, piano-led ease-in opener, very similar to "Fireworks" off debut Thank Me Later. Like that song, "Body" features Drake kind of taking stock of where he's at, summing things up with the first two couplets: "I think I killed everybody in the game last year, man / Fuck it I was on though / And I thought I found the girl of my dreams at a strip club / Fuck it I was wrong though." Also like that song, "Body" features a female voice singing the hook: "The time to take you away from me / Only over my dead body."
Pros: Once more like "Fireworks," "Over My Dead Body" is a truly widescreen opener, a beautiful stage-setter and reintroduction to Drake's world, which, if you're here in the first place, is probably a place you still find somewhat compelling. The piano hook is just as lovely even without a superstar like Alicia Keys playing it, and for a guy rightly accused of dwelling too much in self-pity, Drake actually sounds defiantly cocky on the track, bragging about how he "Just performed at a Bar Mitzvah over in the states / Used half of the money to beat my brother's case." It's a good look for him.
Cons: With the previously mentioned cockiness comes a couple rhymes that are a little slow-clappy, like "You know I want it all and then some / Shout out to Asian girls, let the lights dim sum" and "Slave to the pussy / But I'm just playin' the field ni**a. "
Emo Alert!: "Jealousy is just love and hate at the same time / It's been that way since the beginning."
Drake Hashtags: NBA Players as Rappers, Living up to the hype, Toronto, Strippers, Hip-hop royalty, Haters
No. 2: "Lord Knows" Feat. Rick Ross
Sounds Like: The kitchen sink of Take Care tracks that serves to answer any lingering questions you may have had about Drake without hiding his flow from us any longer.
Pros: In between a lot of singing and half-rapping, here we get one of the longest verses on the album, filled with just about everything Drizzy has been thinking about in the past year, suspicions of like-minded women, athletic inspirations and career ambitions included. His confidence has never been more appreciated, as his self-assured statements are casually blended on top of Just Blaze beats and a choir-like female chorus. He acknowledges his haters without taking too much of a low route, but does not refrain from turning the criticisms around on them simultaneously ("I'm hearing all of the jokes, I know that they tryna push me / I know that shown' emotion don't ever mean I'm a pussy / Know that I don't make music for n--as who don't get pussy / So those are the ones I count on to diss me or overlook me"). Like he's been doing all year, Rick Ross joins in with his signature grunts and typically creative rhyme schemes ("Mink coats make your woman want to fornicate / Rozay and Drizzy, I'm getting cake, nothing short of great").
Cons: Some could argue there was a lack of necessary editing, as Drake moves between fame and success while giving shout-outs to both Snoopy and Mrs. Fields, but we're just wishing for a little more from Ricky Rozay.
Emo Alert! "I'm hearing all of the jokes, I know that they tryna push me / I know that shown' emotion don't ever mean I'm a pussy." Then again, maybe not?
Drake Hashtag: Rappers as NBA players, Living up to the hype, Hip-hop royalty, Hoes in different area codes, Haters, Young Money
No. 1: "Take Care" feat. Rihanna
Sounds Like: Nothing else on the album, or anything else we've heard from Drake before, really. It probably shouldn't be surprising in this day and age when any pop artist has a song featuring an up-tempo beat and syncopated piano hook—Dr. Luke has long since decreed it fair game for all, and the Top 40 is mostly better off for it—but things are usually so slow-and-low from Drake, it's still a little jarring. Oh yeah, and that Rihanna chick shows up to sing the chorus ("If you love me, here's what I'll do / I'll take care of you"), which is nice of her.
Pros: Although "Take Care" borrows the sort of piano hook that we've heard all over pop music these last few years, that's not to say that the song is Drake at all bandwagoning onto the current Top 40 sound. The song never really explodes into the all-out release that most of its sort do, instead reining the beat in to an understated creep, giving the song a mysterious edge that ends up being even more compelling. And of course, the entire song is far more fascinating if you pretend—and who knows, maybe it actually is—that the whole thing is about Drake's short-lived relationship with his track partner. "You don't say you love me to your friends / When they ask you, even though we both know that you do / One time been in love one time." Interesting.
Cons: It's maybe the tiniest bit frustrating that the song never does quite go to that next level—it would have been cool to hear what it would have sounded like. And if bad Lesley Gore puns aren't your thing, then "It's my birthday, I'll get high if I want to" might not rub you the right way. (We sorta love it though.)
Emo Alert!: "Dealing with a heart I didn't break / I be there for you, I will care for you / I keep thinking you just don't know."
Drake Hashtags: Pianos, Self-pity
Agree with our rankings? Think "Make Me Proud" should be higher? Got a version of "The Ride" we can borrow? Let us know about it in the comments section.