Canadian rapper Drake follows an extensive line of past hype-driven rap acts to make it big (Nelly, Ja Rule, 50 Cent ect.)--acts who weren't necessarily awesome rappers but had enough buzz and beats to generate enough interest to win over a solid fanbase but that interest inevitably fizzled out and Drake fits that bill perfectly. His debut album Thank Me Later doesn't necessarily present him to be a great rapper nor lyricist however appeal lies in his commanding of the beats he flows over and the solidarity of the tracks.
The album gets off to a slow start; the first couple tracks are slow mid tempos. Opening is the seductive Islandic drum driven "Fireworks," featuring Alicia Keys. Lyrics are nothing spectacular, more of a thank you to boss Lil Wayne ("Wayne put me right here, that's who I get the paper with") following is the similarly seductive drum driven "Karaoke," aligned with some soft violin sounds in the background and "The Resistance," which sounds more eerie than seductive. The album hots up with lead single "Over," possibly amongst the best emotional performances on here. Fueld by marching band simulating drums and awesome orchestration. Definately one of the best tracks on here. The piano-heavy R&B sounding "Show Me a Good Time," follows nicely.
The albums mid-section covers a host of different collaborations. Some of them work and some don't. The ones that do offer some of the albums best highlights, such as the almost Kanye West esque old school sounding "Fancy" featuring T.I. and Swizz Beatz, the seductive bedroom slow jam "Shut it Down," featuring The Dream, drum heavy mid tempo "Unforgettable" featuring Young Jeezy and eery drum-driven "Light Up" featuring Jay-Z.
Of course there are those that don't quite hit the mark such as "Up All Night" featuring Nicki Minaj which seems to recycle the same drum beats and eerie soundscapes that's already been played out through the album. "Miss Me" featuring Lil Wayne goes for that big hip-hop production incorporating 808 drums, heavy beats and other noise but it's pretty unimpressive but both Drake and Lil Wayne do put in pretty good verses though.
Towards the end of the album we find another seductive slow jam, "Cece Interlude," the laidback "Find Your Love," the beat heavy "Thank Me Now," and "Best I Ever Had" which I didn't like before but I've grown pretty fond of it now. Thank Me Later is a solid debut, I don't hear the groundbreaking sound it was set up to be but in all a solid debut.
You have your genuine rappers, MC's and lyricists (Jay-Z, Nas and Eminem) and you can have your hype-driven talent, flavor of the moment acts, which isn't necessarily a bad thing just until that flavor turns sour then ultimately irrelevant. Time will tell weather Drake can successfully distinguish his sound to fit him in the first group.
Best: Find Your Love, Fireworks, Best I Ever Had, Fancy, Shut it Down