• Industry #4080

    Love/Hate: J Cole

  • Albums,  Reviews

    Drake, ‘Nothing Was the Same’

    Drake - Nothing Was the SameNothing Was the Same marks a tide-is-high moment for Aubrey Drake Graham. As he surveys the world from the vista of his achievements, he sums up what he once called “The Ride,” and what he calls on opener “Tuscan Leather” as “my mission to shift the culture.”

    But there are others nipping at his ability to define the contours of mainstream rap, chiefly Kendrick Lamar, and to a lesser extent Future, Macklemore and a few others. Perhaps it’s why Drake has no major guests on Nothing Was the Same, save for a growling Birdman adlib on “Language,” and a pair of imperious Jay-Z verses on “Pound Cake.” He wants vindication as a hip-hop god by his own merit.

  • Albums,  Reviews

    Childish Gambino, ‘Camp’

    Childish Gambino - CampChildish Gambino’s Camp is a bit of a mess. It veers wildly from poignant emotions to maudlin histrionics, often in the same song. On the album’s penultimate track, “That Power,” Childish Gambino encourages the Freaks and Geeks comparisons with a poem about serenading his childhood crush at the end of summer camp, that annual ritual of pubescent awkwardness, only to be mocked by her and her friends. It will have you recoiling in sympathetic embarrassment and reaching for the Kleenex at the same time. “I wish I could say this is a story about how I got on the bus a boy and got off a man, more cynical, hardened, mature and shit,” he says. “The truth is that I got on the bus a boy, and never got off the bus.”

  • Albums,  Reviews

    Drake, ‘Take Care’

    Drake - Take CareOn the cover artwork for his second album Take Care, Drake holds a pair of chalices. He’s dressed in a black shirt with the top buttons undone, revealing his hairy chest, and he wears a thick gold chain around his neck. “Bracelets and rings/ All the little accents that make me a king,” he says on “Lord Knows,” before adding that his only role models are Hugh Hefner, Michael Jordan, and his YMCMB bosses Lil Wayne and Baby the Birdman (Young Money – Cash Money Billionaires). Meanwhile, his eyes stare soulfully at the table in front of him, as if he were deep in thought. It’s as if he wants to tell us that he has dark moments of the soul.

    Take Care is a thematic follow-up to 2010’s Thank Me Later, but it’s much closer to the pop Zeitgeist. It caps a year when a host of artists echoed the ambient blend of R&B and hip-hop he introduced on Thank Me Later, including Frank Ocean and the Weeknd (who appears on several Take Care tracks). Big Sean and J Cole embraced the clean-cut, proudly middle-class, fame-for-fame’s-sake ethos that Drake trumpeted; he didn’t invent it (that honor goes to Kanye West), but his success has come to personify it. Much of the hardcore rap audience views these suburban braggarts suspiciously, taunt them as being too “soft,” lob homophobic slurs and claim that they’re pop sellouts. Smartly, Drake doesn’t bother answering these trolls. He’s too focused on extending the cultural moment that began with Thank Me Later, and exploring a vague melancholy that emerges in his relationships with women.