Thank Me Later

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Thank Me Later
Studio album by Drake
Released June 15, 2010 (2010-06-15)
Recorded 2009–10
Various recording locations
Genre Hip hop, R&B[1]
Length 61:02
Label Young Money, Cash Money, Universal Motown
Producer Noah "40" Shebib, Al Khaaliq, Boi-1da, Crada, Francis and the Lights, Jeff Bhasker, Kanye West, No I.D., Omen, Swizz Beatz, Timbaland, Tone Mason
Drake chronology
So Far Gone
(2009)
Thank Me Later
(2010)
Take Care
(2011)
Singles from Thank Me Later
  1. "Over"
    Released: March 8, 2010 (2010-03-08)
  2. "Find Your Love"
    Released: May 5, 2010 (2010-05-05)
  3. "Miss Me"
    Released: June 1, 2010
  4. "Fancy"
    Released: August 3, 2010 (2010-08-03)

Thank Me Later is the debut studio album by Canadian recording artist Drake, released on June 15, 2010, by 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 and Boi-1da. It also featured contributions from Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, The-Dream, and Kanye West, among others.

Thank Me Later has a languorous, ambient production that incorporates moody synthesizers, sparse beats, obscured keyboards, minor keys, and subtle arrangements. Thematically, the album focuses on Drake's introduction to fame and his romances over the course of confessional, club-oriented, and sexual songs. Drake's emotionally transparent, self-deprecating lyrics are delivered in both rapped and subtly sung verses, and explore feelings of doubt, insecurity, and heartbreak.

Upon its release, the album received generally positive reviews from music critics, who complimented Drake's personal themes and drew musical comparisons to the works of hip hop artists Kanye West and Kid Cudi. Following an anticipated release, it debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 on first-week sales of 447,000 copies, and attained platinum certification in Canada within its debut week. All four of the album's singles became hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including the top-10 hit "Find Your Love". Thank Me Later was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and, as of February 2012, has sold 1,551,000 copies in the US.

Background[edit]

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 two Grammy Award-nominations and producing the hit single "Best I Ever Had".[2][3] The single reappeared on his debut EP,[3] 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.[2] Drake followed-up on So Far Gone '​s success with several guest appearances on other rappers' works, adding to the hype surrounding him at the time.[3]

In an interview for Complex, Drake stated that his debut album will be "a solid hip hop album" and musically distinct from his So Far Gone mixtape, which received negative comparisons to Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak (2008).[4] He expressed a desire to work with André 3000, Kid Cudi, and Sade for the album.[5][6][7][8][9] 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".[10] 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".[10] 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".[11]

Recording[edit]

Parts of the album were recorded and mixed at Cherry Beach Sound (control room pictured).[12]

Drake resumed work on the album in October 2009, following an onstage injury from a July 2009 concert.[13] 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 in Miami, 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.[12] The track "Up All Night" was recorded on a bus "somewhere in Lexington", and "Unforgettable" was recorded on a bus "somewhere in New Orleans".[12] 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.[12] Lil Wayne, Cortez Bryant, Gee Robinson, Ronald "Slim" Williams, and Bryan "Birdman" Williams served as executive producers for the album.[14]

Producers Noah "40" Shebib and Boi-1da handled most of the tracks' programming and instrumentation.[12] Besides his Toronto-based producer team, Drake also collaborated with European producer Crada, who previously worked on Kid Cudi's 2009 debut album Man on the Moon: The End of Day.[15] Drake told Entertainment Weekly that he collaborated with an Indie pop band named Francis and the Lights.[11] Kevin Rudolf also participated in the album's recording,[16] contributing with keyboards on "Show Me a Good Time" and "Find Your Love".[12] R&B singer Mary J. Blige contributed additional vocals to the track "Fancy".[12] In March 2010, Drake confirmed that he had recorded a track with Eminem and Dr. Dre.[17] In early November 2009, Lil Wayne released an official statement explaining that Thank Me Later had been completed, though Drake later commented that he was still working on the album.[18] 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.[19]

Music and lyrics[edit]

In a genre that demands boldness and bravado, Drake turns his first full-length release into an inward-looking, slow-moving, psychedelic psychodrama ... it plays like an off-kilter dream by a reluctant rap star.

Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune[20]

Thank Me Later has a languorous, ambient production and is characterized by subtle arrangements, obscured keyboards, skittering snare drums,[21] reverbed percussion,[22] sparse beats, moody synthesizers, and minor keys.[23] Lyrically, Thank Me Later has moody, introspective subject matter,[24] and mainly centers around Drake's introduction to fame and his romances.[20][25] The Toronto Star describes the content as "about the sorts of doubts, excesses, betrayals and creeping paranoid suspicions that arrive hand-in-hand with celebrity."[26] Music journalist Greg Kot describes the album as "personal and eccentric, the journal of a flawed, self-doubting regular guy rather than a strutting icon-in-waiting."[20]

The album's first-half generally discusses fame directly with confessional songs about unrequited love, money, and women, followed by club-oriented and sexual songs.[1] Drake's lyrics explore feelings of doubt, insecurity, and heartbreak, while exhibiting both emotional and grammatical malapropisms.[21] Araba Appiagyei-Dankah of The Harvard Crimson characterizes Drake as "self-deprecating, privileged, [and] lovesick".[23] He raps in a nasal voice and sings subtly, with a flow generally in A-B-AB form.[21] Music journalist Jody Rosen observes "emotionally transparent" rapping that eschews the "thuggy" style previously popular in hip hop, finding Drake's style to be "subtle and rueful rather than loud and lively".[27]

Music writers liken Thank Me Later to Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak.[27][28][29] Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club writes that, "musically, Drake favors warm washes of synthesizers that create a melancholy, fragile mood redolent of 808s & Heartbreak."[29] Comparisons are also drawn to Man on the Moon: The End of Day by Kid Cudi, a protégé of West.[20][27] By contrast, Joshua Ostroff of The Globe and Mail feels that Thank Me Later '​s "emotional navel-gazing lacks West’s often-suffocating self-pity and offers a proper synthesis of rap and R&B."[24] Jeff Weiss of the Los Angeles Times views that the album ignores West's celebratory side "in search of anthems for the easily alienated."[30]

Songs[edit]

The guilt-ridden song exemplifies the album's "conflation of the glam-ridden and the everyday".[31]

Drake croons in couplets on the sloppily sentimental, effects-heavy track.[31]

Problems playing these files? See media help.

"Fireworks" references the divorce of Drake's parents and alludes to his brief fling with Rihanna.[28][32] "Karaoke" features background keyboards that add to the song's 1980s musical influence,[28] with lyrics about the difficulty of relationships.[25] In "The Resistance", Drake worries about fame changing him, with lyrics veering from his ailing grandmother to a one-night stand that resulted in an abortion.[25][33] "Over" incorporates an orchestral backdrop, and according to Michael Cragg of musicOMH, contains three hooks.[34] The artful song is about the elation and confusion that accompanies fame.[35] "Show Me a Good Time" opens and closes with a squeaky yelling sound.[28] On the song, Drake talks addresses hip hop listeners who find him inauthentic.[25] "Up All Night" has menacing strings,[33] and Drake boastfully rapping about his nightlife, while trading lines with Nicki Minaj.[1] The club song "Fancy" has a predominant hook, looped samples, and backwards strings.[25][28][34] It is an ode to women who spend hours primping in preparation for the nightlife.[33] The song features vocals by producer Swizz Beatz and T.I., with additional harmonies by Mary J. Blige at the song's conclusion.[36] "Shut It Down" is a piano ballad and slow jam.[26][36]

"Light Up" features loud synth drums and plaintive piano strings.[1][33] The Jay-Z-collaboration is a critique on the hip hop industry, its detrimental effects,[25] and the trappings of being an artist: "While all my closest friends out partyin'/ I'm just here makin' the music that they party to," while Jay-Z gives advice: "Drake, here’s how they gonna come at you / with silly rap feuds, trying to distract you."[1][36] Jay-Z expands on the album's overarching theme of self-doubt: "And since no good deed go unpunished / I'm not as cool with niggaz as I once was / I once was cool as the Fonz was / But these bright lights turned me to a monster."[37] "Miss Me" has Lil Wayne rapping jokes,[37] including a crude punch line about sucking "the brown" off his penis and subsequently groaning, "Ewwww, that's nasty."[21] "Cece's Interlude" has a Prince-like LinnDrum and transparent lyrics addressing a girl: "I wish I / Wasn't famous / I wish I / Was still in school / So that I could have you in my dorm room / I would put it on you crazy."[21] The pop song "Find Your Love" was produced by Kanye West and bears similarity to his 2008 song "Heartless".[38]

Release and promotion[edit]

Drake performing at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, 2010

The album was one of the most anticipated hip hop releases of 2010.[39][40][41] 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.[42] MTV News reported in December 2009 that Drake planned for the album to be released by March 2010.[43] 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.[44] However, Universal Motown Records stated the album has been pushed back three weeks to June 15, 2010.[45][46] 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!"[47] 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.[48][49] Upon its release, MTV ranked it number five on its list of "Top Five Most-Anticipated Rap Debuts".[3]

In promotion of the album, Drake performed at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on June 13, 2010.[50] 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.[51] On the day of its release, Drake also made interviews for several radio stations through the phone.[52] 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.[53] Following the cancellation, Drake appeared at Manhattan nightspot Amnesia for an album-release party sponsored by radio station Hot 97.[54]

Four singles were released from the album—"Over" on March 8, 2010,[55] "Find Your Love" on May 5,[56] "Miss Me" on June 1,[57] and "Fancy" on August 3.[58] All four singles reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, including "Miss Me" at number 15 and "Over" at number 14.[59] "Find Your Love" charted at number five on the Hot 100 and also reached number 10 in Canada.[59]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 447,000 copies.[60] It attained the third-highest first-week sales of 2010 in the United States.[61] It also entered at number one on Billboard '​s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Rap Albums chart.[62][63] In its second week, the album dropped to number two on the Billboard 200 and sold 157,000 copies.[64] It remained at number two and sold 105,000 copies in its third week on the chart.[65] In its fourth week, the album sold 74,000 copies at the same chart position.[66] By January 9, 2011, the album had sold 1,279,500 copies in the United States.[67] As of February 2012, the album has sold 1,551,000 copies in the United States.[68]

In Canada, the album debuted at number one on the Top 100 Albums chart, selling 31,000 copies in its first week.[69] 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.[70] In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number 15 on the Top 40 Albums and at number one on the RnB Albums Chart.[71][72] It also entered at number 32 in Ireland,[73] at number 92 in the Netherlands,[74] at number 69 in Switzerland,[75] and at number 35 in New Zealand.[76]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[25]
The A.V. Club B+[29]
Chicago Tribune 3/4 stars[20]
Robert Christgau B+[37]
musicOMH 4/5 stars[34]
NME 6/10[77]
Pitchfork Media 8.4/10[36]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[27]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[31]
Spin 8/10[22]

Thank Me Later received generally positive reviews from contemporary 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.[78] Tim Sendra of Allmusic complimented its "rich and nuanced production and Drake's thoughtful, playful, and intense lyrics", and felt that his "willingness to be introspective and honest ... makes [him] unique and helps make Thank Me Later special."[25] Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork Media commented 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."[36] Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club commented that "on his cohesive, bittersweet, assured debut, he proves himself worthy of the sometimes-blinding spotlight."[29] Rolling Stone '​s Jody Rosen found Drake to be "in total command of a style that would have been hard to imagine dominating hip-hop a few years ago".[27] Ben Detrick of Spin observed "dynamics like few other hip-hop albums before it" and commented that "Drake's personal anecdotes lack the bravado of bullet-wound boasts, but they're intimate and lyrically detailed enough to draw blood."[22]

Daniel Roberts of PopMatters said that no track on the album was better than "Best I Ever Had" and felt that Drake has an "identity crisis" on the album, finding it "good at parts, but never great".[28] Josuha Errett of Now found most of the album "just thankless", commenting that Drake "complains about fame way too much", and called him "humorless".[79] In his consumer guide for MSN Music, Robert Christgau gave the album a B+ rating,[37] indicating "remarkable one way or another, yet also flirts with the humdrum or the half-assed".[80] He 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".[37] Pete Cashmore of NME felt that "it's those constant and predictable superstar interjections that prevent the album from standing out as much as it had potential to do."[77] Slant Magazine's Jesse Cataldo viewed Drake's "insistent navel-gazing" as a flimsy "concept", but commended the album for "nail[ing] confused introspection in a genre famous for willful misrepresentation of self."[31]

The album appeared on several music critics' and publications' end-of-year albums lists.[81] Time ranked it number five on its list of 2010's Top 10 Albums.[82] Rolling Stone named it the seventh best album of 2010 on its year-end albums list.[83] Pitchfork Media placed it at number 42 on its list "The Top 50 Albums of 2010".[84]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Fireworks" (featuring Alicia Keys) Aubrey Graham, Noah Shebib, Matthew Samuels, Christian Kalla, Alicia Cook 40, 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 40 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, Onika Maraj, Samuels, Matthew Burnett Boi-1da, Matthew Burnett (co.) 3:54
7. "Fancy" (featuring T.I. and Swizz Beatz) Graham, Shebib, Clifford Harris, Samuels, Kasseem Dean, Aubry Johnson, Henry Zant Swizz Beatz, 40 (co.) 5:19
8. "Shut It Down" (featuring The-Dream) Graham, Shebib, Sidney Brown, Terius Nash 40, Omen 6:54
9. "Unforgettable" (featuring Young Jeezy) Graham, Shebib, Samuels, Jay Jenkins, Ronald Isley, Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Chris Jasper 40, Boi-1da 3:34
10. "Light Up" (featuring Jay-Z) Graham, Shebib, Anthony McIntyre, Shawn Carter 40, Tone Mason 4:34
11. "Miss Me" (featuring Lil Wayne) Graham, Samuels, Shebib, Dwayne Carter, Doug Edwards, Dave Richardson Boi-1da, 40 5:06
12. "Cece's Interlude"   Graham, Shebib, Adrian Eccleston 40 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

Sample credits
  • "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)

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Thank Me Later adapted from liner notes.[12]

Charts[edit]

Chart succession[edit]

Preceded by
The Element of Freedom by Alicia Keys
UK R&B Albums Chart number-one album
June 20, 2010 - June 26, 2010
Succeeded by
Recovery by Eminem
Preceded by
Glee: The Music, Journey to Regionals by Cast of Glee
US Billboard 200 number-one album
July 3, 2010-July 10, 2010
Preceded by
To the Sea by Jack Johnson
Canadian Albums Chart number-one album
July 3, 2010

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[96] Platinum 80,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[97] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[98] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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