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'Take Care'


5/5 Pitchforks

Young Money Entertainment

Released: Nov. 15


Canadian-born rapper Drake has all but taken over the rap game since dropping his wildly popular mixtape “So Far Gone” in 2009. Drake released his major label debut  “Thank Me Later” in June 2010, which was met with incredibly favorable reviews. Since the release of his debut album, Drake has been hard at work, touring for his album and recording a number of guest verses for popular hip-hop artists.

The recording process of “Take Care” revealed a more mature and focused Drake. On “Thank Me Later,” Drake revealed that the album was rushed, despite the album's Platinum-selling success. “Take Care” is the best album released in Drake's short, illustrious career and could potentially be the blueprint for yet another evolution in the rap world.

The album finds the middle ground between modern R&B and hip-hop and explores the sonic possibilities of mixing the two genres. Fellow Toronto musician Abel Tesfaye, better known by his stage name The Weeknd, helped write five tracks and performs on three on the album, helping add to the contemporary R&B feel of many of the tracks on the album.

Much like “Thank Me Later,” “Take Care” features guest spots from many popular artists like Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and Andre 3000 — but none of it seems forced. “Take Care” is one of the best albums of the year — hip-hop or not — and is a must-own for any fan of the genre.


'The Papercut Chronicles II'

Gym Class Heroes

3.5/5 Pitchforks

Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen

Released: Nov. 15


After taking a brief foray into the world of solo recording, Travie McCoy has decided to team up with his original band Gym Class Heroes to record the sequel to the band's record “The Papercut Chronicles.” Gym Class Heroes has recorded two albums since the 2005 release, but this year's “The Papercut Chronicles II” shows the band picking up right where they left off.

On 2008's “The Quilt,” Gym Class Heroes utilized featured musicians more often than on any previous album. The group does not stray from that method, as the notable musicians featured on the 2011 release include Adam Levine, Ryan Tedder, Nate Ruess, Oh Land and Neon Hitch.

The song's lead single, “Stereo Hearts,” sounded more like a song from Travie's solo record than a true Gym Class Heroes song. Fortunately for the band, “The Papercut Chronicles II” is not littered with commercialized, radio-friendly songs. Guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo flexes his shredding muscles with more dexterity than on previous releases and the band's hip-hop/rock blend works better than ever.

The album has many highlights, but the record's most undeniably ambitious track is the closing track “Kid Nothing and Never Ending Naked Nightmare.” The pseudo-reprise of 2005's “Kid Nothing vs. The Echo Factor” features Travie's flow with a soaring chorus, replete with screaming reminiscent of 30 Seconds to Mars.



Childish Gambino

3.5/5 Pitchforks

Glassnote Records

Released: Nov. 15


Donald Glover is one of the most enigmatic figures in popular culture today. Between acting on the popular TV show “Community” and performing his stand-up comedy across the nation, most wouldn't find time for another venture, let alone one as time consuming as becoming a recording artist. However, that hasn't fazed Glover who raps under the moniker Childish Gambino; “Camp,” the rapper's recording label debut, is set to hit stores on Nov. 15.

Childish Gambino has been gaining momentum for quite some time, with 2010's “EP” and “Culdesac” garnering critical acclaim from multiple music outlets. “Camp” builds on that momentum and comes close to perfecting the style, but doesn't offer much variance from previous releases.

That's not to suggest that the album is uninteresting, however. Glover's lyrics are still as clever as they've ever been and he shows off his inner nerd more often than not. The addition of more singing on tracks such as “Kids (Keep Up)” shows the evolution from what Childish Gambino started out as to where he is now.

“Camp” is a solid start for Childish Gambino and provides the grounds for what has the potential to be a successful career as a recording artist.


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