The Fame Monster
ABSTRACT: POP MUSIC on Drake’s unenviable success. The hip-hop artist known as Drake has become one of the most interesting stars of the moment. The typical route to pop innovation is to introduce alien or aggressive sounds that provoke people, but Drake’s music has become more subtle over time.
His brilliant new album, “Take Care,” sounds like gauzy R. & B. and, occasionally, ambient electronic music. But it is decidedly and firmly hip-hop-if there is any firmness left in the genre. “Take Care” is likely to début at No. 1 and to be one of the year’s biggest-selling albums. What is exciting, beyond the music itself, is how it shows that hip-hop is in a period of transition in which formal constraints have dissolved almost entirely.
The twenty-five year-old, born Aubrey Graham, is a biracial Canadian Jew who grew up in an affluent suburb of Toronto and starred on the teen drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” In an era when rappers typically work with a range of prominent producers, Drake has recorded almost his entire catalogue with Noah Shebib, a close friend from Toronto. Along with Kanye West and the Odd Future collective, Drake has made the therapeutic confession a new staple of rap.
The age of the tough guy is over. Drake resembles Charlie Brown, permanently resigned to all success being fleeting and all pleasure being provisional. The title of this album turns out to be cautionary advice. It would be fitting if Drake were the first pop star to amass a sizable young audience who grew up with no desire to copy their hero. If “Take Care” is post-hip-hop, it is also post-fame.