The year is 2009 and everyone is buzzing about this Canadian rapper Lil Wayne has just signed to YMCMB. No he’s not a gangsta artist, his emotion filled lyrics about past girls and failed relationships went against the current culture of Cash Money artist of the pass and present. Hell his style was even a contrast to what was happening in Hip-Hop prior to his arrival.
Drake had released a wildly popular mixtape where he mixed his flow with signing, opened up about not only his family issues but issues with former lovers, many of them, and in turn left himself very vulnerable. And it worked, people loved the “super” emotional music, even if they didn’t want to admit they could relate.
One year and many features later, Drake is gearing up to release “Thank Me Later,” his debut studio album. “Thank Me Later” featured strong singles like “Over,” “Fancy,” and “Find Your Love.” The album did well in sales and was received relatively well by fans and critics (some people claimed it came off as too poppy). But somewhere behind the hype of “So Far Gone,” and the simp classic that is “Take Care” I think people lost appreciation for Drake’s first.
Now I'm not saying “Thank Me Later” was the greatest album to hit stores, however it should get more credit then it does. First off the album does have quite a number of features, but they aren’t overbearing and they fit. The Dream on “Shut It Down” fits perfectly, and that song in my opinion is underrated amongst the multitude of 16-25 years old love anthems that are Drake songs. Drake tells his now familiar tales of immaturity and heartbreak he suffered with girls he grew up with, and strippers throughout this album. A little different then the current tales he’s telling us now about the famous chicks he's messing with; but it doesn’t seem like strippers have gone anywhere.
Yes, Drake’s story telling ability has improved since this album, and that is what you should expect, but his abilities were in no way lacking during this time either. One thing I always loved about this album is I can honestly say I can listen to this from start to finish. I'm more likely to skip over songs on “So Far Gone” then “Thank Me Later.” Sometimes I felt like “So Far Gone” had too much singing, not that he didn’t sing on “Thank Me Later,” but it was balanced out with equal amounts of rapping. I always felt Drake did more rapping on this album and NWTS, then any of his other projects.
I’ve often heard that the beat selection wasn’t the best on “Thank Me Later,” and while that might be true lets be real, how many times do you get the best beats ever? They weren’t the greatest or most memorable 808 beats ever made, but lets not act like they were terrible. The beats were good, period. You’re not turning on a song and say, “damn I can’t listen to this” within the first 30 seconds due to beat. They may not be the most memorable, you may fade out a little while listening to them because they all don’t pop right out and grab you immediately, but that is ok. This is a debut and there is still room for improvement (see what I did there).
At the end of the day I can easily see why this album gets lost in the mix. Drake has so many great songs he released during this time period (either right before or after the album) that didn’t make it onto the actual project. On top of that, since “Thank Me Later” Drake has made many other more polished releases (singles that aren’t on albums) that people quote and have on repeat all day. And to add to that he has two studio albums that are better than “Thank Me Later.” Especially when you consider an album like “Take Care,” which was more direct and focused on a central idea. It seemed to connect to that “heartbroken, looking for love, simp” fan base.
Like I stated earlier, it’s easy to understand how this album gets overlooked. But take the time out to listen to “Fireworks,” “The Resistance,” and “Unforgettable” again and I promise you won’t regret it. Yes “Show Me A Good Time” and “Up All Night” aren’t as good as “The Language” or “Under Ground Kings,” but they aren’t BAD songs, no one can convince me of that. Drake just simply has created better music since “Thank Me Later,” he has grown, he’s found himself as a artist, and that’s how it should be but that shouldn’t discredit the album as a whole. I guess we will just have to thank Drake later.