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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Drake pushes rap subgenre forward

    Drake, with his airy vocals and soft beats, remains difficult to explain. The man who killed the gangster stereotype has brought atmospheric balance and drawn out the softer side of hip-hop with his new album, Thank Me Later. This album represents a permanent departure from the torrid affair of modern rap — with its hard beats and even stiffer lyrical musings — and offers something priceless: a clean, paved road for the rest of the rap genre to follow.

    Thank Me Later isn’t the best rap record of the year, as was expected from some. It’s hardly great. But Drake has accomplished something here rarely seen from this side of the music industry. He’s provided a blueprint for how to accomplish moody “”bummer rap”” successfully and in the process has delivered a supremely listenable album from start to finish. The softer, relaxed side of rap is definitely much preferred to the alternative of how this album could have turned out, with the undue pressure put on Drake’s shoulders to produce something spectacular.

    From the opening track “”Fireworks,”” featuring Alicia Keys, it’s apparent Drake has no intention of giving us anything less than a relaxed take on how to make a rap album. From the beginning, he sets a high bar and the inventive background combines with Keys’ soaring vocals to create a song much more likely to be heard in a Starbucks than on Top 40 radio.

    Other highlights include the ultra-chill “”Shut It Down”” and the Lil’ Wayne collaboration “”Miss Me,”” which is the best Wayne has been in any supporting role this year. With lines like “”It’s Blood-gang-sign but I party with Snoop / Turn you into a vegetable / like you lying in soup,”” it’s clear that Wayne put more than a little thought into his role on this particular album.

    More importantly than the individual parts of Thank Me Later, is what it means to the hip-hop and rap communities. It’s not the best album out today, but it proves that there is room for variation within the genre beyond the simplicity of guns and money that the gangster stereotype provides. Make no mistake: five years ago this album would have had a very difficult time making it to production. But this is what makes this album different. It’s the evolution of rap from a hurting genre into a surviving one.

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