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Thank Me Later is the debut studio album of Canadian recording artist Drake, released June 15, 2010, on Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records and Universal Motown Records. Production for the album took place at various recording studios during 2009 to 2010 and was mostly produced by longtime collaborators Noah "40" Shebib andBoi-1da, and also featured contributions from Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, The-Dream and Kanye West, among others. Thank Me Later features a predominantly sparse, downbeat production and contains subjective lyrics concerning themes of fame, self-examination, and love.
The album received generally positive reviews from music critics, who complimented Drake's introspective lyrics and drew musical comparisons to the works of hip hop artistsKanye West and Kid Cudi. Following an anticipated release, it debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 447,000 copies in the United States in its first week. It reached platinum certification in Canada within its debut week and produced four singles that attained chart success, including international hit "Find Your Love" and Billboard hits "Over", "Miss Me" and "Fancy". The album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and, as of February 2012, has sold 1,551,000 copies in the US.
Released in February 2009, Drake's mixtape So Far Gone proceeded his series of early mixtapes and achieved unexpected critical and commercial success, earning him twoGrammy Award-nominations and producing the hit single "Best I Ever Had". The single reappeared on his debut EP, which was released after a bidding competition among labels and his signing with Universal Motown Records amid support from high-profile hip hop artists such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne. Drake followed-up on So Far Gone's success with several guest appearances on other rappers' works, adding to thehype surrounding him at the time.
In an interview for Complex, Drake stated that his debut album will be "a solid hip hop album" and musically distinct from So Far Gone, which received comparisons to Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak (2008). He expressed a desire to work with André 3000, Kid Cudi, and Sade for the album. In an interview for MTV, Drake cited Nas and André 3000 as influences for parts of Thank Me Later, stating "Nas was somebody that I used to listen to his raps and never understood how he did it. I always wanted to understand how he painted those pictures and his bar structure. I went back and really studied Nas and André 3000 and then came back with this album". In comparing the album to his previous work, he stated "It's gonna be bigger, it's gonna sound happier. More victorious, 'cause that's where I'm at in my life". He told Entertainment Weekly that, "I didn't make this album for commercial purposes. A lot of the verses are extremely long. I just made it to share with people. I hope they can enjoy".
Drake resumed work on the album in October 2009, following an onstage injury from a July 2009 concert. Recording sessions for the album took place at several recording studios, including Metalworks Studios, BLD&DSTY, and Cherry Beach Studios in Toronto, Nightbird Studios in West Hollywood, Gee Jam Studios in Portland, Jamaica, The Setai Hotel Recording Studio and The Hit Factory inMiami, Blast Off Studios and Rock the Mic in New York, Glenwood Studios in Los Angeles, Triangle Sounds Studios in Atlanta, Takeover Studios in Houston, and Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu. The track "Up All Night" was recorded on a bus "somewhere in Lexington", and "Unforgettable" was recorded on a bus "somewhere in New Orleans". The album was mixed at Tree Sound Studios, Blast Off Studios, Gee Jam Studios, Cherry Beach Studios, The Setai Hotel Recording Studio, Metalworks Studios, Stadium Red in New York, and Studio 306 in Toronto. Lil Wayne, Cortez Bryant, Gee Robinson, Ronald "Slim" Williams, and Bryan "Birdman" Williams served as executive producers for the album.
Producers Noah "40" Shebib and Boi-1da handled most of the tracks' programming and instrumentation. Besides his Toronto-based producer team, Drake also collaborated with European producer Crada, who already worked on Kid Cudi's debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Day. Drake told Entertainment Weekly that he collaborated with an Indie pop band named Francis and the Lights. Kevin Rudolf also participated in the album's recording, contributing with keyboards on "Show Me a Good Time" and "Find Your Love". R&B singer Mary J. Blige contributed additional vocals to the track "Fancy". In March 2010, Drake confirmed that he had recorded a track with Eminem and Dr. Dre. In early November 2009, Lil Wayne released an official statement explaining thatThank Me Later had been completed, though Drake later commented that he was still working on the album. On April 26, 2010, Drake announced to a crowd during a show that he had finished recording and had turned in a final copy of the album.
Most critics compared the album's composition to Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak. Greg Kot of Chicago Tribune and Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone compared the album as coming off like West's protégéKid Cudi's Man on the Moon: The End of Day. However, according to Joshua Ostroff of The Globe and Mail said the Thank Me Later 's "emotional navel-gazing lacks West’s often-suffocating self-pity and offers a proper synthesis of rap and R&B." Jeff Weiss of The Los Angeles Times said that the album ignores West's celebratory side in search of what 808s left off, "in search of anthems for the easily alienated." Most of the album is "icy synths", described as making the sound "moody and introspective." According to Michael Saba of Paste, the front end of the album sees Drake "addressing his fame head-on with a trio of barebones, confessional songs about lost love, money, women and fame", as the others are "star-studded club bangers" and "sticky-sweet Autotune-fueled sex jams".
"Karaoke" makes use of a background keyboard that gives it an 80's-style feel. "Unforgettable" samples Aaliyah's "At Your Best (You Are Love)." "Fancy" has been described as a "club banger" and "fun and sassy summer jam with a huge hook", featuring "looped samples" and "backwards strings." The song features producer Swizz Beatz along with T.I., with additional harmonies at the conclusion by Mary J. Blige. "Up All Night", accompanied by "menacing strings" has been called sinister, and described as "drowsy" and "tough-as-nails". "Light Up" has been called "gargantuan" and "rattling", as it features "thunderous synth drums" and "plaintive piano strings." "Shut It Down" is a piano ballad that has been called an "uber slow-jam." "Over" makes use of an orchestral backdrop, and according to Michael Cragg of musicOMH, contains three hooks. "Show Me A Good Time" opens and closes with a "squeaky yelling effect."
The lyrical content of the album mainly centers around romance and Drake's introduction to fame, which has been called an "inward-looking, slow-moving, psychedelic psychodrama." The Toronto Star described the content as "about the sorts of doubts, excesses, betrayals and creeping paranoid suspicions that arrive hand-in-hand with celebrity." "Karaoke" and "Miss Me" both talk about the difficulty of relationships. "Fireworks" references his parents' divorce, and alludes to his brief fling with Rihanna. In "The Resistance", Drake worries about fame changing him, as "his mind races from his ailing grandmother to a one-night stand that resulted in an abortion." "Show Me A Good Time", Drake talks about "real hip-hop fans" finding him "manufactured", as the Jay-Zcollaboration, "Light Up", is described as a "fierce takedown of the industry" and the "damage it can wreak". The latter also deals with trappings of being an artist, through lines such as, "While all my closest friends out partyin'/ I'm just here makin' the music that they party to.", while Jay-Z gives advice to his protégé, "Drake, here’s how they gonna come at you / with silly rap feuds, trying to distract you." "First single "Over" has been called "artful" as Drake accounts the "elation and confusion" that accompanies fame. "Fancy" is described as "an up-tempo ode to women who spend hours primping in preparation for Saturday night." "Up All Night" sees Drake rapping about his nightlife trading lines with Nicki Minaj.
Release and promotionEdit
The album was one of the most anticipated hip hop releases of 2010. On May 28, 2009, independent label Canadian Money Entertainment sold an unauthorized Drake album, The Girls Love Drake, on iTunes, Rhapsody.com, Shockhound, and Amazon.com. Drake's management sent a cease and desist order to iTunes, which promptly removed the album from sale on June 5. Drake then planned to sue Canadian Money. MTV News reported in December 2009 that Drake planned for the album to be released by March 2010. Later, Rap-Up revealed that the album would be released sometime in spring, and it was later confirmed that a May 25, 2010 release has been scheduled. However, Universal Motown Records stated the album has been pushed back three weeks to June 15, 2010. The entire album leaked on June 1, before its official release date. Drake responded by tweeting, "I gave away free music for years so we're good over here... just allow it to be the soundtrack to your summer and Enjoy! June 15th!" The album was released June 15, 2010 on Young Money Entertainment under a joint venture with Cash Money Records and distribution by Universal Motown Records. Upon its release, MTV ranked it number five on its list of "Top Five Most-Anticipated Rap Debuts".
In promotion of the album, Drake performed at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on June 13, 2010. On June 15, 2010, Drake made an in-store appearance at a Best Buy-outlet in New York City's Union Square in promotion of the album's release, interacting with fans and signing copies of the album. On the day of its release, Drake also made interviews for several radio stations through the phone. A planned free concert by Drake at South Street Seaport's Pier 17 that day was cancelled by concert organizers and authorities after unruly behavior within crowds and unsafe overcrowding. Following the cancellation, Drake appeared at Manhattan nightspot Amnesia for an album-release party sponsored by radio station Hot 97.
"Over" was released as the album's first single on March 8, 2010, through digital distribution. The song received positive reviews, which commended the lyrics among other content. It was a success stateside and in Canada, reaching the top twenty on the main charts and one and two on the Rap and R&B/Hip-Hop charts respectively. It also was successful internationally appearing on the UK Singles Chart, UK R&B Chart, and German Black Chart. The Anthony Mandler-helmed clip features Drake reminiscing over an experience, and the struggle between his old life and the new one. "Find Your Love" was released as the album's second single on May 5, 2010. Initially, the song sparked comparisons between the work and 808s and Heartbreak by Kanye West, who produced the song and several others on the album. The song became Drake's best charting effort since "Best I Ever Had" appearing in the top five on the Billboard Hot 100, and the top ten in Canada. In addition to appearing on the Rap and R&B charts, it charted on theMainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs) chart and on several international charts. The accompanying video, also directed by Anthony Mandler was shot in Jamaica and chronicles Drake's relationship with a gang-affiliated woman.
"Miss Me", the album's third single, was sent to urban radio on June 1. The single peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, before its Anthony Mandler-directed video was filmed. A music video for "Fancy" was also shot, featuring Drake, Swizz Beatz andT.I., but was not released. The single was sent to urban radio on August 3. It peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 447,000 copies. It attained the third-highest first-week sales of 2010 in the United States. It also entered at number one on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Rap Albumschart. In its second week, the album dropped to number two on the Billboard 200 and sold 157,000 copies. It remained at number two and sold 105,000 copies in its third week on the chart. In its fourth week, the album sold 74,000 copies at the same chart position. On July 20, 2010, Thank Me Later was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of one million copies in the United States. By January 9, 2011, the album had sold 1,279,500 copies in the United States. As of February 2012, the album had sold 1,551,000 copies in the United States.
In Canada, the album debuted at number one on the Top 100 Albums chart, selling 31,000 copies in its first week. By the end of its debut week, Thank Me Later had shipped 100,000 copies in Canada and received platinum certification from the Canadian Recording Industry Association for shipment in excess of 80,000 copies. In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number 15 on the Top 40 Albums and at number one on the RnB Albums Chart. It also entered at number 32 in Ireland, at number 92 in the Netherlands, at number 69 in Switzerland, and at number 35 in New Zealand.
Thank Me Later received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 75, based on 26 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Tim Sendra of Allmusic said that the album, "lives up to the hype", complimenting "rich and nuanced production and Drake's thoughtful, playful, and intense lyrics", and commenting that the album "is a radio-friendly, chart-topping collection of singles but also a serious examination of Drake's life that holds up as an album.". While Sendra stated his singing may not be the best, he said, "willingness to be introspective and honest that makes Drake unique and helps make Thank Me Later special. It is the rare album, rap or otherwise, that follows through on the artist's potential and the fan’s anticipation." The Washington Post's Chris Richards commented that "With penetrating lyricism and arresting melodies, it's a truly captivating debut -- a rookie's ticket into the 21st century pop pantheon." Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork Media complimented that "Drake vies for superstardom while embracing his non-drug-dealing, non-violent, non-dire history-- one that connects with most rap fans in a completely reasonable way." Nathan Rabin ofThe A.V. Club said "Drake may be powerfully conflicted about stardom, but on his cohesive, bittersweet, assured debut, he proves himself worthy of the sometimes-blinding spotlight." XXL said, "Drake initially endeared himself to fans by combining lyrical skill with infectious melodies, all while maintaining an everyman’s sensibility. Just an upper-middle-class kid—yeah, perhaps a little well off, so what?—trying to make it. On Thank Me Later, he explores what it’s like to have done that—to have become successful. Turns out, it’s not exactly what he thought it would be. But it still sounds pretty damn remarkable." Although Joshua Ostroff of The Globe and Mailsaid Drake was not the "hip hop saviour", he complimented Drake singing the hooks rather than a R&B singer as usual rap hits use, calling the album "cohesive." Rolling Stone's Jody Rosen said Drake "in total command of a style that would have been hard to imagine dominating hip-hop a few years ago...subtle and rueful rather than loud and lively; emotionally transparent rather than thuggy", and that the album "meant to be listened to from start to finish. And judging by the anticipation around its release, it will be, many times over."
Ben Raynor of Toronto Star said Drake was not "the second coming" of Eminem or Jay-Z, and that he is better when his "R&B vocal skills are pushed to the forefront." Raynor also complimented Drake bringing longtime producers "Boi-1da and Noah "40" Shebib" instead of what could have been "a big-budget A-list free-for-all", commenting that after listening on the previous duo's tracks "there’s every reason to believe Drake’s going to be at this game for awhile." Renato Pagnani of The Vancouver Sun criticized Drake's "workmanlike" flow, and commented that the album's guests like Jay-Z and T.I. "effortlessly demonstrate the difference between a good MC and a great MC." However Pagnani said, "His best material comes when he favours introspection over braggadocio, honesty over hyperbole", and commended Drake's ability to pen "towering hooks", and being one of rap music's only "double threats." While Michael Saba of Paste said that no one could have lived up to the hype of the debut, he said Drake did the next thing, "release a solid and consistent album that showcases his prodigious talent", can commented, "we now have every reason to believe that the hype will ring true on his next album." Although he complained the album was long and contained filler tracks, MusicOMH's Michael Cragg said, that the album "does indeed mark the arrival of rap's newest superstar." Daniel Roberts of PopMatters said that no track on the album was better than "Best I Ever Had" and commented that Drake had an "identity crisis" on the set. However, Roberts commend Drake's ambition, and that the album was "good at parts, but never great", commenting, "It’s unlikely he’s the next Jay, or Kanye, or even Jeezy. But you’ll definitely keep hearing his name. Drizzy’s just getting started." Josuha Errett of Now liked the singles "Over" and "Find Your Love" as well as features from Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Kayne West's production, but said "listening to the rest is just thankless", commenting that Drake "complains about fame way too much", and called him "humorless" among other things. In his consumer guide for MSN Music, critic Robert Christgau gave the album a B+ rating, indicating "remarkable one way or another, yet also flirts with the humdrum or the half-assed". Christgau described Drake as "Neither thug nor thug wannabe [...] plenty talented, but pretty shallow and without much focus as a mack", while commenting that the album "pleasing and hookful though it be, consistently bemoans the confusing emoluments and accoutrements of fame".
The album appeared on several music critics' and publications' end-of-year albums lists. Time ranked it number five on its list of 2010's Top 10 Albums. Rolling Stone named it the seventh best album of 2010 in its year-end albums list. Pitchfork Media placed it at number 42 on its list "The Top 50 Albums of 2010".
|1.||"Fireworks" (featuring Alicia Keys)||Aubrey Graham, Noah Shebib,Matthew Samuels, Christian Kalla, Alicia Cook||Noah "40" Shebib, Boi-1da (co), Crada (co)||5:13|
|2.||"Karaoke"||Graham, Francis Starlite, Shebib||Francis and the Lights||3:48|
|3.||"The Resistance"||Graham, Shebib, Samuels, Oliver El-Khatib||Noah "40" Shebib||3:45|
|4.||"Over"||Graham, Samuels, Nick Brongers, Shebib||Boi-1da, Al-Khaaliq (co)||3:54|
|5.||"Show Me a Good Time"||Graham, Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Ernest Wilson||Kanye West, No I.D. (co), Jeff Bhasker (co)||3:30|
|6.||"Up All Night" (featuring Nicki Minaj)||Graham, Samuels, Matthew Burnett, Onika Maraj||Boi-1da, Matthew Burnett (co)||3:54|
|7.||"Fancy" (featuring T.I. & Swizz Beatz)||Graham, Shebib, Clifford Harris, Samuels, Kasseem Dean, Aubry Johnson, Henry Zant||Swizz Beatz, Noah "40" Shebib (co)||5:19|
|8.||"Shut It Down" (featuring The-Dream)||Graham, Shebib, Sidney Brown, Terius Nash||Noah "40" Shebib, Omen||6:59|
|9.||"Unforgettable" (featuring Young Jeezy)||Graham, Shebib, Samuels, Jay Jenkins, Ronald Isley, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Chris Jasper||Noah "40" Shebib, Boi-1da||3:34|
|10.||"Light Up" (featuring Jay-Z)||Graham, Shebib, Anthony McIntyre, Shawn Carter||Noah "40" Shebib, Tone Mason||4:34|
|11.||"Miss Me" (featuring Lil Wayne)||Graham, Samuels, Shebib, Dwayne Carter, Doug Edwards, Dave Richardson||Boi-1da, Noah "40" Shebib||5:06|
|12.||"Cece's Interlude"||Graham, Shebib, Adrian Eccleston||Noah "40" Shebib||2:34|
|13.||"Find Your Love"||Graham, West, Bhasker, Wilson, Patrick Reynolds||Kanye West, No I.D. (co), Jeff Bhasker (co)||3:29|
|14.||"Thank Me Now"||Graham, Timothy Mosley||Timbaland||5:29|
• (co) Co-producer
|[show]UK iTunes bonus tracks|
|[show]Japanese bonus tracks|
- "Fancy" contains elements and samples of "I Don't Want to Play Around" written by Aubrey Johnson, Henry Zant, and published by Ace Spec Music (BMI)
- "Unforgettable" contains elements and excerpts from "At Your Best" performed by Aaliyah and written by Ronald Isley, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O'Kelly Isley, and Chris Jasper published by EMI April Music Inc (ASCAP)
- "Miss Me" contains elements and excerpts from "Wild Flower" performed by Hank Crawford and written by Doug Edwards and Dave Richardson published by Nettwerk Tunes (BMI)
Credits for Thank Me Later adapted from liner notes.
- Executive producers: Lil Wayne, Cortez Bryant, Gee Roberson
- Cash Money executive producers: Ronald "Slim Tha Don" Williams, Bryan "Baby Birdman" Williams
- Aspire executive producers: Derrick "E.I" Lawrence, Jas Prince, J. Prince for Young Empire Music Group
- October's Very Own executive producers: Noah 40 Shebib, Oliver El-Khatib
- A&R: Oliver El-Khatib, Noah 40 Shebib
- Administrative A&R: Josh Berkman
- Mastered by: Chris Gehringer at Sterling Sound NYC
- Management: Hiphop Since 1978/Bryant Entertainment
- Legal affairs: Chris Taylor for TMKO Lawyers
- Business Management: Shawn Gee for SEFG
- Photography: Jonathan Mannion, Anthony Mandler
- Design: Mark "Darkie" Mayers - darkiemade.com
- Additional art and photography: Philip Golebiewski
- Art direction: Oliver El-Khatib