June 15, 2020

Keith Nelson Jr. Why Drake’s Debut Album Was the Least-Drake Album Ever

If you’re successful for long enough, you become less of a person and more of an idea. The name Warren Buffett is synonymous with wealth. Michael Jordan is synonymous with greatness. In 2020, after a decade of releasing albums, soundtracking memories, and breaking enough records, Drake the idea is one of variability.

He’s earned Billboard hits making Jamaican dancehall fusion music (“One Dance”), wedding reception ballads (“Hold On, We’re Going Home”), even Spanish-language rap (“Mia”), which his makes his debut album, 2010’s Thank Me Later, the least-Drake album he’s ever released. It’s an album that eschews vast experimentation in favor of largely traditional song structures and rap stylings, a decision influenced more by the world than the album’s creator.

Thank Me Later was the most anticipated rap debut of the last decade, thanks in large part to the phenomenon that was his 2009 free mixtape, So Far Gone. Before a single second of Thank Me Later was heard, Drake snagged a  No. 2 single on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Best I Ever Had” and a No. 6 album on the Billboard 200 with the official So Far Gone EP release. The demand for Drake was so feverish that seven months after So Far Gone’s February 2009 release, he took off 12 of the 17 songs from the mixtape, added one new song (“Fear”) and another that had been online for months (“I’m Goin’ In”), and, over the next nine months, sold 500,000 copies of a truncated mixtape whose full version was free to download until last year.

Everyone wanted a piece of Drake and he felt obligated to give each person the slice they desired. He didn’t craft Thank Me Later solely tell his story.

“It’s just really trying to tell the greatest story that’s never been told, which is the story of a rapper’s come-up, and tell it without being corny or over-bragging or sounding like, ‘Feel sorry for me.’ It’s going to be a very interesting record because I’m really going to have to dig deep and tell stories that people can relate to,” Drake told MTV in October 2009.

Drake wanted to be everything to everyone, a trait he’s refined through the years into an internal homing device enabling him to precisely tap into what makes a hit in different genres. The then-23-year-old newcomer didn’t have that experience or confidence in his talents and succumbed to the piercing criticisms as an emotional artist who sang enough for his rapping abilities to be questioned. Nothing about Thank Me Later is as glaringly different than nearly every Drake album as the imbalance between singing and rapping.

Outside of “Cece Interlude” and “Find Your Love,” two of the last three songs on the album, Drake’s 14-track debut didn’t have any other songs featuring him only singing. That’s practically unheard of for more than half of the Canadian’s genre-defying career. The first four tracks of his most successful album, 2016’s six-time-platinum Views, has as many only-singing songs in its first four tracks. By this point, you would expect the most popular rapper in the world to sound like an R&B artist for a considerable amount of any album he releases. Drake admits Thank Me Later is the only album of his created from expectations.

“That was probably the only one of my albums that was remotely influenced by where I was at in my career at the time,” Drake said in a December 2019 interview on Rap Radar. “It was definitely, probably the one project that maybe had the least personal touches. It was really kind of about, ‘How big can we look?’”

Another one of the more obvious signifiers of Thank Me Later is the preponderance of the ‘supa dupa flow’ over any other rapping style. The supa dupa flow, credited to Big Sean as the inventor by Drake himself, is essentially a simile with a pause where a “like” should be. So, “I’m hot like the sun” becomes “I’m hot, the sun.” The pause often places an undue amount of profundity on one word resulting in unintentionally hilarious punchlines like “It’s going down, basement” and “It’s a parade, Macy’s” because it seemed like every rapper in 2010 was rapping like Big Sean.

Less than two weeks after Thank Me Later was released, Drake was already trying to distance himself from core parts of the album’s appeal. “I never want to use that flow in life again. I wanted to take it off my album because I was like, ‘I shut ‘em down, Onyx.’ I hate the fact that that rhyme is still in there,” Drake said in June 2010 interview.

Even though it’s the least-Drake album, it’s still a Drake album. His quest is to be timeless through lyrics universally applicable enough to border on cliches, in a good way. The same way he may “live for the nights I can’t remember with the people I won’t forget” on Kanye West-produced “Show Me A Good Time” explains why he gets “high as your expectations” on the Rihanna-featured “Too Good” from Views. The same guy spewing platitudes like “time heals all but heels hurt to walk in” on album standout “Fancy” is the same one who “wasn’t hiding my kid from the world, I was hiding the world from my kid” in “Emotionless” on 2018’s Scorpion.

Confidence is often mistaken as protective armor, not the shedding of insecurities. True confidence is worn, not put on, because it’s essentially an unwavering comfort in one’s own skin. However, shedding insecurities often resembles the old clinging on to the new before falling under the weight of inevitability. Thank Me Later is the shedding of a star into a brighter one.

The post Why Drake’s Debut Album Was the Least-Drake Album Ever appeared first on Discogs Blog.

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Keith Tippett dies age 72

via The Wire: Home

Alicia Keys – London, 2009

via The Real Mick Rock

Alicia Keys – London, 2009

via The Real Mick Rock

CAS Rush ‘Permanent Waves’ with Adrian Holmes (CAS Orkney) at Classic Albums at Home

Classic Album Sundays Orkney host Adrian Holmes tells the story behind and discusses his personal recollections of Rush ‘Permanent Waves’. After the album presentation, we encourage you all to play the entire album from beginning to end, without interruption, following the Classic Album Sunday listening guidelines: turn off our phone, refrain from conversation and give yourself over to the music.

Watch: Marillion ‘Misplaced Childhood’ with by Adrian Holmes at Classic Albums at Home

Join our Album of the Month club, our monthly Friday night Classic Album Pub Quiz, our ‘Safe & Sound’ webinar for tips on improving your hi-fi and receive rewards after six months of subscription here.

The post Rush ‘Permanent Waves’ with Adrian Holmes (CAS Orkney) at Classic Albums at Home appeared first on Classic Album Sundays.

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CAS Erykah Badu ‘Mama’s Gun’

Recorded between 1999 and 2000 at Electric Lady Studios in New York and released by Motown Records, Mama’s Gun incorporates elements of funk, soul, and jazz styles. It has confessional lyrics by Badu, which cover themes of insecurity, personal relationships, and social issues. Critics have also noted that while Baduizm contained its share of cryptic lyricism, Mama’s Gun is much more direct in its approach, and places the artist in a subjective position more than its predecessor.

While Baduizm turned her into a household name, Mama’s Gun cemented her status as the new face of R&B. After taking several years off to raise her first child, Badu returned to the studio to record her second album, much of which was inspired by love and her relationship with her then partner, Andre Benjamin. Leaning into a more organic sound with less-elusive lyrics, Badu opted to speak to the state of black womanhood and the world around her.

There is no shortage of honesty in Erykah Badu’s music, and Mama’s Gun serves as a collection of adages, rather than a stylistic time capsule, speaking to moments in time when self-revolution is necessary for growth.

Read more: The Story of Erykah Badu ‘Mama’s Gun’
Listen: Erykah Badu ‘Mama’s Gun’ Legacy Playlist
Listen: Erykah Badu ‘Mama’s Gun’ Musical Leadup Playlist

The post Erykah Badu ‘Mama’s Gun’ appeared first on Classic Album Sundays.

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CAS Nas ‘Illmatic’

The 1994 hip-hop landmark is a sterling example of how great rap can be. Check out Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy’s hour long podcast telling the story behind one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.

Read: The Story of Nas ‘Illmatic’
Listen: Nas ‘Illmatic’ Musical Lead-Up Playlist
Listen: Nas ‘Illmatic’ Legacy Playlist


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CAS Flaming Lips ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’

We feature The Flaming Lips tenth studio album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots for our March Classic Album Sundays Worldwide Podcast. The album was well-received critically and commercially, helping the band break into the mainstream, and was adapted into a musical in 2012. Uncut declared that “even by their standards, Yoshimi is astonishing.

Read: The Story Of The Flaming Lips ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’
Listen: The Flaming Lips ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’ Legacy Playlist
Listen: The Flaming Lips ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’ Musical Lead-Up Playlist


The post Flaming Lips ‘Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots’ appeared first on Classic Album Sundays.

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CAS This Woman’s Work: Black Gold by Nina Simone

This Woman’s Work is a series of stories from Classic Album Sundays and Studio 360, highlighting classic albums by female artists who have made a lasting impact on music and pop culture. This time: the Grammy nominated live album, “Black Gold,” by singer and pianist Nina Simone. It was recorded in front of a packed audience at Philharmonic Hall in New York City on October 26, 1969 and released in 1970.

Read more: The Story of Nina Simone ‘Black Gold’

“Black Gold” displays Nina Simone’s talents at interpreting a song, not to mention her range, moving from soul and gospel to show tunes and folk music. Through it all, her distinctive voice soars into moments of defiance and uplift.

“The greatest artists have to bring who they are authentically to the music that they do,” says drummer and composer Terri Lyne Carrington. “So somebody like Nina Simone, I mean, she’s like the greatest storyteller that ever lived, because when I hear her sing a lyric, I understand the song and the story more than I think anybody else.”

Listen: Nina Simone ‘Black Gold’ Musical Leadup Playlist

Political activist and scholar Angela Davis says Simone’s influence extends beyond her musical gifts. “I don’t think I have ever met anyone before meeting Nina Simone who was so focused on using her talents to change the world. She wanted to use her music, use her voice, use her capacity to create new worlds.”

Listen: Nina Simone ‘Black Gold’ Legacy Playlist

“Black Gold” features performances of some of Simone’s most well-known songs, like her cover of “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair” and the anthemic “Young, Gifted and Black.” The album represents not only an artist at the peak of her talents but an important figure in the civil rights movement in the US.

This podcast was produced by Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy and Studio 360’s Jocelyn Gonzales.

The post This Woman’s Work: Black Gold by Nina Simone appeared first on Classic Album Sundays.

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