If you've ever been tempted to believe that all the money and fame in the world would satisfy you, Drake's second album, Take Care, might help disabuse you of that notion.
Oh, sure, it includes pounds of profane swagger and braggadocio about endless sex and Maybachs and marijuana and being the greatest and having more money than 1,000 normal people put together. Unlike most rappers who riff on those clichéd themes, however, Drake's not afraid to (occasionally) admit that none of it really seems to be getting the job done for him in terms of lasting satisfaction.
That's not to say this album should serve as schooling for the bling-minded among us.
On the title track, a man and a woman (guest singer Rihanna) pledge to try to overcome their mutual baggage, and care for each other. A verse on "Look What You've Done" seems to credit a relative for being a good influence and believing in Drake after his biological father abandoned the family.
A line on "Buried Alive" equates (albeit with a vulgar interjection) the acquisition of earthly excess to climbing into a coffin: "So dig a shovel full of money, full of power, full of p‑‑‑y, full of fame/And bury yourself alive/Then I died"). Likewise, "Cameras" critiques an empty life of fame where relationships displayed in public are empty lies in private. "Headlines" includes a line in which Drake tells a longtime friend that money and fame have slowly left him feeling empty.
On "Good Ones Go (Interlude)," Drake at least laments his inability to commit to a woman whom he knows would be the right one for him, even as he begs her not to get married until he matures enough to ask her. "Doing It Wrong" describes a man who wisely understands he can't spend any more time with a woman without compromising further ("So cry if you need to/But I can't stay to watch you/That's the wrong thing to do/ … Talk if you need to/But I can't stay to hear you/'Cause you'll say you love me/And I'll end up lying/And say I love you too").
Unfortunately, even though Drake sometimes understands what the "wrong thing to do" looks like, he more often intentionally seeks it out. He peppers his tracks with references to strip clubs, casual sex, oral sex and sex with fans. And he laces those references with the f-word. He derisively describes women as "b‑‑ches" and hoes to be used and abused. One example (of many): "They got me on these white women like Seal, n-gga/Slave to the p‑‑‑y, I'm just playing the field, n-gga."
It's so much sex, in fact, that Drake almost admits he's bored with it all. On "Marvin's Room," he sings, "After a while, they all seem the same/I've had sex four times this week, I'll explain/Having a hard time adjusting to fame." Still, not finding satisfaction in sex isn't stopping Drake from having it.
A liner note photo shows an explicitly rendered statue of a nude woman. References to drunkenness, drunk driving, smoking marijuana, gambling, committing adultery and evading taxes offer more evidence of Drake's scrambled moral compass. "Headlines" spends most of its time detailing exactly what kind of a G.O.A.T. Drake is—as in Greatest Of All Time.
In his more self-aware moments, a few of Drake's songs illustrate how you can gorge yourself on every possible pleasure known to humankind (or most of them, anyway), yet still not find much meaning in it. That's the tack Solomon took in the Old Testament. But very unlike the wisest man who ever lived, there's little if any evidence here that Drake's occasional admissions of inner emptiness are compelling him to live any differently. It's certainly not prompting him to sing about anything else.