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In 1976, Marvin Gaye holed up in his Hollywood studio and began recording Here, My Dear, a brutally candid album-length dissection of his divorce from wife Anna Gordy. The soul great found beauty within the wreckage, and the album doubled as an emotional exorcism that pushed out pain, anger, regret, spite, vengeance. “Memories haunt you all the time/ I will never leave your mind,” he threatens on a song called “When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You”. Reviewing the album upon its release in 1978, critic Robert Christgau wrote, “Because Gaye’s self-involvement is so open and unmediated… it retains unusual documentary charm.”
The same could be said of Drake, whose unrepentant navel-gazing and obsession with lost love reach new levels on his second proper LP, Take Care. Running with Gaye’s ghost, Drake offers a profane update of his forebear’s twisted heart: “Fuck that nigga that you love so bad/ I know you still think about the times we had,” he sings on the insidious hook of “Marvins Room”, a song recorded in the same studio where Gaye originally exposed his own unedited thoughts more than three decades ago.
This time around, Drake has a better grasp on his own notoriety and the mind-fucks that come with it. While he expressed wonderfully wounded trepidations about his sudden rise on Thank Me Later, he’s learning to embrace it more here. “They say more money more problems, my nigga, don’t believe it,” he raps on closer “The Ride”. “I mean, sure, there’s some bills and taxes I’m still evading/ But I blew six million on myself, and I feel amazing.” And on “HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)”, he all but gives away his hand, turning his sadness into strategy: “What have I learned since getting richer?/ I learned working with the negatives could make for better pictures.” And while he claims “I think I like who I’m becoming” on “Crew Love”– about as ringing an endorsement you’ll get from a guy so bent on exposing his own disappointments– he’s still more interested in contradiction than triumph. Even when staring at a pair of unnatural breasts, he highlights the incision rather than the size: “Brand new girl and she still growing/ Brand new titties, stitches still showing/ Yeah, and she just praying that it heals good/ I’m ’bout to fuck and I’m just praying that it feels good.” – Pitchfork