Shortly after his full album leaked, rapper Drake held a listening session in New York City yesterday (June 2) for his much-anticipated debut, "Thank Me Later." Reporters joined some of the Toronto rapper's famous friends -- including Chris Brown, Jay Sean, Bow Wow, Baby and Universal Motown president Sylvia Rhone -- in a Manhattan recording studio for a playback party. Missing from the crowd was Drake's label head Lil Wayne, who is serving his jail sentence in New York's Rikers Island. But Drake made sure to tell all in the room that before the listening, he went to visit his friend and mentor in prison.
"I'm driven and influenced by things that me and Oliver sit around and discuss, one of which was [rapper] Nasir Jones," Drake said from a studio separated by a glass wall from the crowd. "I studied his patterns, lyrics and stories and I try to channel it in my music. Jimi Hendrix as well, I pay attention to his performance and his demeanor. And then other than that, my family, women, money -- the things that control my life."
The album starts with "Fireworks" featuring Alicia Keys -- which leaked last week -- on which Drake reflects on his relationship with Lil Wayne, Rihanna and his parents over bass thumps and an extended piano.
"Karaoke" is next, and was inspired by a "girl I been in love with since I was like 14," said Drake. "She always told me, 'I could never be with you because I don't like the spotlight.' So I made this record to set the record straight."
"I know they say the first love is the sweetest, But the first cut is the deepest / I try to keep us together, You were busy keeping secrets / Secrets you were telling everybody but me, Don't be fooled by the money, I'm still just young and unlucky / I'm surprised you couldn't tell, I was only trying to get ahead / but the spotlight makes you nervous, and you're looking for a purpose," he raps and sings on the track atop drums.
"The Resistance" deals with the "question of when people tell you you're changing," Drake said about the next track. "Are you really changing? Or are people just not adapting to your situation?" "Still here with who I started with, the game needed life, I put my heart in it / I blew myself up, I'm on some martar shit / carry the weight for my city like a cargo ship," Drake rhymes over hollow drums and a slinky piano.
First single "Over," which peaked at No. 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, follows, then the uptempo "Show Me A Good Time," in which Drake playfully spits, "How did I end up right here with you? I've done all the things that I can do / Spend money those days, we try to forget about it / take a shot and let it out, lets get right, now that I'm here baby / show me a good time," on the chorus.
"Up All Night" features Nicki Minaj, and it's one of the stand-out tracks on the album. The song finds both Drake and Nicki paying homage to their Young Money team, with Drake rapping, "I'm about whatever, man, fuck what they talking about / they opinion doesn't count, we the only thing that matters / so we do it how we do it, all up in your face, man, I hate to put you through it / I be up all night, whole crew's in here, cause I don't really know who Imma lose this year / Man, I love my team, man I love my team, I would die for them n****s," over a looping beat on the hook. "This record came later in the process, but I'm proud of it," Drake said of the track.
"Fancy" featuring T.I. and Swizz Beatz -- the latter also being the producer -- is about women beautifying themselves as is the next track, "Shut It Down," which Drake says is one of his favorites on the album. The Young Jeezy-assisted "Unforgettable" samples Aaliyah's "Let Me Know," who Drake said he has a borderline obsession with, followed by "Light Up," featuring Jay-Z, which also leaked last week.
"Miss Me," with Lil Wayne, has already proven to be a fan favorite after leaking a few weeks ago. On it, he professes his love for another famous lady, rapping, "and I love Nicki Minaj, I told her I'd admit it / I hope one day we get married just to say we fucking did it / and girl I'm fucking serious, I'm with it if you're with it / cause your verses turn me on and your pants are mighty fitted." An accompanying video for it will be released soon and will feature Wayne.
The second single, "Find Your Love," comes next, then the outro, appropriately titled "Thank Me Now." "You could thank me now, go ahead, thank me later / yeah, I know what I said, but later doesn't always come / so instead, ok, you could thank me now," Drake rhymes over a slow production with thumps and a simple piano.