Drake Fumbles Toward Superstardom

Hip-hop's putative savior revels in doubt, insecurity, and a broken heart

Listening to Thank Me Later, I can't help thinking about something Kanye West said to me last year: "I don't believe in therapy," he insisted, shortly after his mother passed away. "I believe you gotta walk it out, you gotta live it out . . . and sometimes you have to cry it out." There is no Drake without Kanye West, his most immediate forebear; the quote applies, but this is different. Kanye works as a transgressive emotional force in the genre, but he is defiant. Jay-Z, another idol, is about largesse, especially as he ages. Wayne is unstable and prone to sporadic fits of mad genius. But Drake is just a guy. A guy with parents he loves, and loves he wants to be a parent with, but now with additional responsibilities to his friends in Toronto, to his labelmates in New Orleans, and to the industry at large. And he decided to make this odd little album about figuring out who he is. It is not necessarily the most artful thing that's happened in rap lately. But it is a miracle.

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