Drake isn't knocking his debut album. Really, he isn't. "But I think I got caught up in making it seem big and first-album-ish," the Toronto MC says of 2010's smash Thank Me Later. "I may not have delved into anything because I was busy living it." Drake's mission for his second LP is to dig deeper into how it feels to be a young superstar. Collaborators include Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Abel Tesfaye of mysterious R&B act the Weeknd – and Stevie Wonder, who plays a keyboard solo on a song called "Doing It Wrong." The production, mostly courtesy of Drake's longtime associates 40, T-Minus and Boi-1da, runs from stripped-down melancholy ("Marvin's Room," which recounts a sloppy drunk-dial) to frosty bombast ("Headlines," about being rich, high and lonely). Drake credits his hometown, far off the hip-hop grid, with inspiring the album's reflective mood. "In the studio, I don't distract with TV or anything," he says. "I sit on a couch, under a lamp, and there's Persian rugs and weed. That does it for me."
By Jonah Weiner
Stream Drake feat. Rick Ross' "Free Spirit":