“Some of our important moments together available in one place,” is how Drake’s surprise release Care Package was announced.
Possibly influenced by Nas’s recent release The Lost Tapes II (another album made up of unreleased tracks), the Toronto rapper has curated a number of songs previously scattered across Soundcloud and YouTube. While some are what fans refer to as “old” Drake, others feel surprisingly relevant in 2019 – they resurface an old grudge or remind fans of his greatest strengths.
Contrasting this older material against his most recent releases is an opportunity to look at how Drake’s outlook towards relationships, friendships and success has changed. Where he used to be fixated on presenting himself as the boy next door – the one who wanted to save “good girls” from going bad; now it sounds as though he’s had enough. 2013’s “The Motion”, which features Mercury Prize-winning artist Sampha, has him rap: “The girl I wanna save is like a danger to my health.” But “Money in the Grave” with Rick Ross, which was released earlier this year, includes the line: “Used to save hoes with a mask and a cape, now I'm like, 'Nah, love, I'm good, go away'.”
Drake is often best when he’s at his most brooding. “Days in the East” is about as self-critical as he gets (although he's still bitter towards a former lover for being with the wrong man). But then he raps about going to Erykah Badu’s house: “She made tea for me/ We talked about love and what life could really be for me.” There’s something beautiful in how he closes the track on this mention of his friendship with one legendary woman of hip hop, then segues into a neat sample loop of Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)”.
There’s a darker, moodier vibe running across the record in contrast to the scattered eclecticism of 2018’s Scorpion, which was criticised for being too long and filler-friendly. Drake clearly wasn’t fussed (why would he have been, when the album shattered global streaming records), and so Care Package is just as drawn out at 17 tracks, most of which hover between the four and five-minute mark. This isn’t an artistic project as much as it is a business ploy – repackaging leftovers apparently without taking the effort to remix or remaster some of them.
Drake obsessives likely won’t care, and it would be foolish to expect anything else from a star who has mastered the art of cashing in on the streaming age. As he states on “Trust Issues”: “All I care about is money and the city where I’m from.”
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