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Drake's Take Care: 5 years later

Del Cowie

Despite the fact that it leaked beforehand, Nov. 11 marks five years since Drake's Take Care was officially released. While his 2016 album, Views, has enabled Drake to break records related to nominations for award shows, streaming and charts, the foundation for his current level of success occurred when he was able to capitalize on his profile by crafting a distinctive style and approach on Take Care.

In contrast to the mixtape breakout of So Far Gone and his high-profile, cameo-filled, full-length debut, Thank Me Later, Take Care represents Drake fully creating a sound and persona across an entire project through introspective and emotive rhymes that we associate with the Toronto hip-hop artist today. But beyond the record's actual content, its success has had other external effects.

Take Care is the real reason why, in 2016, Drake is an A-list superstar whose every move is closely scrutinized. So even though the record is only five years old this week, its effect on popular culture is palpable. Here are five things influenced by Take Care.

1. The profile of Toronto hip-hop producers

While Drake is the central figure on Take Care, his producer and engineer Noah "40" Shebib is a crucial figure in Drake’s music. On Take Care, Shebib builds on the atmospheric and moody nocturnal ambience on songs like "Marvin's Room" among others that is now synonymous with Drake’s music. While Shebib undoubtedly lays the groundwork here, Take Care allows other key Drake producers such as T-Minus and Boi-1da to helm the boards and draw off the aesthetic created by 40. The success of this tactic built a foundation for Drake’s music, providing opportunities for a slew of in-house Canadian producers such as Wondagurl, Nineteen85 and Sevn Thomas, among many others, to develop their reputations by working with internationally successful artists. Consequently, what is now being referred to as "the Toronto Sound," has been given a platform to flourish.

2. The Drake co-sign

In the wake of the success of So Far Gone, Drake appeared as a collaborator on songs by Alicia Keys, Timbaland and many others, but Take Care was the first record where Drake was in a position to significantly boost the careers of artists himself. While their careers were already gathering significant momentum, it must be said that the Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar benefitted considerably from being featured on Take Care. Drake tweeted out lyrics from the Weeknd's mixtape House of Balloons to his large social media following in March 2011, sparking the Toronto artist's buzz. The Weeknd co-wrote five songs on Take Care, as well as contributing his vocals on some songs.

Lamar was fresh off the attention from his Section.80 mixtape, and he had connected with Drake after Lamar's first show in the city in June 2011. Lamar’s contribution on Take Care's “Buried Alive” interlude would expose the Compton MC —  who had already issued a handful of mixtapes — to a mainstream audience. Lamar's “Swimming Pools” single, from his critically acclaimed g.o.o.d. kid, mAAad city LP, which followed his appearance on "Buried Alive," was produced by Pickering, Ont., native T-Minus — who also produced four tracks on Take Care. Since the album's release, Drake's OVO Sound label has ensured built-in audiences for Majid Jordan, DVSN and PartyNextDoor.

3. R&B

Drake’s unabashed love for R&B is highly evident on Take Care. The album is abundant in samples of the genre’s '90s period, referencing artists and Drake muses, such as Aaliyah. While ostensibly a hip-hop album, Drake sings a lot, and Take Care’s influence on R&B in the aftermath of its release has been strong, with many R&B artists using the sound Drake used on the album as a template for their music. Bryson Tiller, for example, who calls his music "trapsoul" and has been nominated for a handful of American Music Awards this year, clearly takes sonic cues from Take Care. Additionally, established R&B artists like Erykah Badu have taken note, and veteran artists like Usher are making records echoing Drake’s approach.

4. The mixtape approach to songs and albums

Take Care’s title song is a duet with frequent collaborator Rihanna, with whom Drake connected with for “Work,” one of 2016’s most popular songs. But their 2011 collaboration is recorded over a slightly tweaked cover version of a Jamie xx remix of “I’ll Take Care of You,’’ a track from Gil Scott Heron’s final album, I’m New Here.

While Drake had reinterpreted previously existing songs for mixtapes in the past, he hadn’t done it for such a high-profile, official release before this collaboration. “Take Care” proved to be a catalyst, and Drake’s propensity for jumping on other people’s songs and releasing them with little warning increased exponentially after this.

Drake showed up on songs by artists like ILoveMakonnen and Tinashe, among others, and initially Drake's huge “Hotline Bling” hit was tied to hip-hop artist D.R.A.M.'s song “Cha Cha.” The tactic allowed Drake to blur the lines of which track was his, and the frequency of these tracks appearing between album projects queried what was an official release from him. The debate of whether his If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late project was a mixtape or an album was partly a reflection of Drake’s refusal to adhere to a traditional approach of releasing new music. 

5. Toronto pride

Drake wasn’t referring to Toronto as the 6ix on Take Care, yet his hometown pride was a much more prevalent theme than it was on Thank Me Later and his mixtapes. In addition to referring explicity to recording in Toronto on "The Ride," scenes for the video of lead single “Headlines” were filmed inside the Rogers Centre and the CN Tower — a landmark prominently featured on the cover of this year’s Views album. Additionally, the liner notes on Take Care emphasized his hometown inspiration: “Let me begin by thanking Toronto. I was lucky to be given the time to create an album in the city that shaped me,” Drake wrote.

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