Drake, Thank Me Later
Official release date: June 15
The Verdict: If so inclined, you can thank Drake right now: His much-blogged-about debut, Thank Me Later, has leaked, impressively holding on until just a shade under two weeks before its official release. Seven of the twelve songs had already been released in some form or another (a quick aside: We do really appreciate that hip-hop has moved out of having albums with, like, 23 tracks and seven unfunny skits), but now we finally have the whole thing. So, does it live up to the hype? Sort of!
Right now we’re really enjoying the album’s opening section, which feels like a continuation of Drake's breakthrough mixtape, So Far Gone. The very first line on the very first song is “money just changed everything,” and we’re set up for a sharp, honest look at exactly how. Over the first three tracks, Drake complies, walking us through some trademark discomfiting personal issues: how his mom is lonely in the big new house he bought for her (“Fireworks”); how the girl he wanted to marry moved to Atlanta 'cause she couldn’t deal with his fame (“Karaoke”); how he feels guilty for not calling his grandma enough (“The Resistance.”). Then, the mood shifts: For the album’s middle section, the question is still, “What is it like to suddenly and unexpectedly become a famous rap star?” but the answer goes from “it’s kind of weird” to “it’s awesome!” That’s not necessarily a bad thing — especially as T.I., Nicki Minaj (“Which bitch you know made a million off a mixtape”), Young Jeezy, and The-Dream (on standout, almost completely R&B track “Shut It Down”) all show up to help Drake party. But it’s not — at first listen, and definitely grading on a scale — an interesting thing, either. Anyway, now the big question: What’s Thank Me Later selling in its first week?