Drake – Take Care

Have you had sex four times this week? Do you aspire to spank 50 Gs taking your boys away for the May bank holiday? Me neither. So, as a middle England-er with an interest in accounting, why do I like this record? Perhaps it appeals to the rebelliousness of a Surrey upbringing and the need to express myself by doing things I shouldn’t be doing in my mate’s shed.

Given that the rebelliousness of youth is long past and my mate’s shed now contains a lawn mower, I was confused – as you might be.

And then I figured it out. It’s the same reason I love Kanye West (the lyrical equivalent of that moron who corners you in a bar on a Friday night after work). The beats this guy raps over are so good that you’re missing a soul if you don’t feel them.

Drake - Take Care

The tracks on this record appeal to every part of modern electronica that I love. In short, they’re deep, expressive and truly unique in their use of samples. Let’s take track 4, “Crew Love” as a case in point. The intro is so reminiscent of Burial that I’m minded to grab my shovel but then we get taken to another level with an achingly laid back drum loop – think Dre without having to consume an entire album of it.

Another stand-out is track 8, “We’ll be fine”. The intro is summer garden party pretty – including tea and cakes – and then it drops into a sick bass line that’ll destroy your stereo and make you go straight out and buy that sub you’ve had your eye on so you can do it all over again.

So far we’ve looked at the beats and mocked the lyrics, which isn’t a fair representation of the vocals. Take a look at “Make Me Proud” feat. Nicki Minaj as a case in point. I love the willingness to big up new artists on hip-hop albums. Why don’t indie/rock artists do it more often? This woman spits utterly confusing lyrics but her timing, sound and aggression make me love 50 second of this song so much that I want to loop it over and over.

The same is true of the Andr√©¬†3000 cameo on “The Real Her”. It’s a crying shame that the the most amazing vocal performances come from the special guests, but it shouldn’t stop you enjoying this record.

So what should you do? In short: Buy this album. Treat Drake‘s vocals as a melody. Love the special guests. It deserves a listen. Put it on repeat.

The Weeknd – House of Balloons / Thursday

Canada; the boring loft gathering above the killer house party that is America. That’s how I’ve heard it described before. I’m not sure that such a description is really fair, and given the rate at which Canada is bringing us a whole raft of new creatives, I’d say the tables could be turning.

The likes of Drake have made it HUGE on a global scale in the last few years. You can see that through the decadence in the video for Headlines, doesn’t the man know there’s Euro zone debt crisis going on! Lunice has raided the UK this year to bring his own blend of electrified hip hop madness to Carnival and the Boiler Room to great effect. More than just a DJ, he’s a one man mime dance troop to boot (I sometimes wish his audience would give has much as he does).

For me, the maverick of the bunch has been 21 year old game changer Abel Tesfaye, you probably know him by his stage name; The Weeknd.

This, his latest offering called Initiation, is full of angst ridden, pitch shifted vocals, eerie guitar loops and a drum shuffle that would break down any club floor.

But what’s the big deal, surely he’s just another major label backed, R&B crooner with a bit of edge. No sir! Rumour has it he’s never even left his home town of Scarborough, Ontario (although some of the lyrics in “The Morning” suggest otherwise).

His two releases to date have both been put out on his own “XO” label as completely free (you don’t even need to give him your e-mail address) downloads.

Out of the two, I’d say debut offering “House Of Balloons” is the stronger, with tracks like “What You Need” (introduced with Aliyah samples then slinking along in the style of a smooth K-Ci & Jo Jo classic) and “The Morning” (picture waking up to a Prince guitar solo, being serenaded with memories of the night before before an 808 roll explodes to snap you back to reality) standing firm in the pack.

It’s the emotion in his delivery that really mark The Weeknd out. That and the fact that, by all accounts, there’s been little outside assistance in pulling these albums cum mixtapes together.

Still unsigned at the time of writing this, and with another self released album “Echoes Of Silence” pencilled in for this year, we could be seeing The Weeknd and Canada riding higher and higher on the musical map in the coming year.

Click the pics, download the albums and enjoy the weekend!