Today in 2011, Drake released his sophomore LP, Take Care. The album came just under 18 months after his major label debut, Thank Me Later, which was widely considered a disappointment, especially among fans who had followed the Canadian since his pre-Young-Money days.

At the time of its release, the album cover for Take Care was lampooned mercilessly on social media. The idea of Drake being “soft” — an idea entirely rooted in his popularity among women and girls — had already started being formed with the success of singles like “Best I Ever Had” and “Find Your Love.” The Take Care artwork, for whatever reason, was a reinforcement of this idea among certain fans — almost invariably male — who roasted Drake in the days following the artwork’s release.

For someone who witnessed the ridiculing of Ja Rule into oblivion less than a decade earlier, it seemed like Drake might suffer a similar fate. However, the very thing that was the instrument of his public roasting turned out to be his lifeline. When Take Care finally arrived, it was so universally loved that many of the people who poked fun at its artwork ended up singing its praises on the very same social media platforms. And as the derision had gone viral, so did work about how good Drake’s new album was. Drizzy had basically established himself as a rapper who was too good to not like despite being “soft,” which was a first.

By surviving that roasting, we could argue that Drake gained antibodies that have made him immune to certain types of ridicule. Today, he now gets away with heart-shaped linings in his hair and pictures like this. And we ain’t mad.

Much like Thank Me Later, Take Care had a long runway leading up to its release, with Drake putting out three lead singles as he did with his debut. “Marvins Room,” though a moderate success on the charts, was an instant classic; on “Headlines,” Drake directly addressed concerns about him falling off while claiming his spot in the rap game; and on “Make Me Proud” (featuring Nicki Minaj),  we are blessed with numerous quotable lines and a hook that will get you hooked on the first listen. If Drake indeed fell off, he stood back up with the first three singles of Take Care.

When the album finally arrived, the world caught YOLO fever with “The Motto,” which became an anthem for people who wanted to make bad decisions in peace. The term YOLO — which stands for “you only live once” — would become such a part of the cultural lexicon that articles would be written about it, thereby exposing it to boomers and making it uncool. But it had a good run.

On “Cameras,” get a first glimpse at Drake and frequent collaborator Noah “40” Shebib’s ability to use R&B samples masterfully. The song borrows heavily from Jon B.’s “Calling on You.” It was co-written by then-up-and-comer The Weeknd, whose profile was rising rapidly after Drake gave his breakthrough project, 2011’s House of Balloons, a resounding co-sign. The fellow Toronto native would receive songwriting credits on four other Take Care tracks: “Practice,” “Shot for Me,” “The Ride” and “Crew Love,” the last of which also features The Weeknd and the latter three of which were initially intended for House of Balloons.

Another future superstar — Kendrick Lamar — appears on “Buried Alive Interlude,” performing the song from top to bottom.

The spotlighting of Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd would introduce us to Drake the A&R exec/tastemaker, who would go on to boost more up-and-coming talent — from PartyNextDoor to WizKid to Summer Walker — over the next decade.

On album opener “Over My Dead Body,” Drake talks addresses all the chatter about his career and his prospects; he also talks about jealousy, a theme that would show up on much of his music for years to come; on “Look What You’ve Done,” Drake lives up to the “soap opera rapper” trope beautifully with emotional lyrics that show that there is more than one way of being raw and honest in hip-hop; and on the album’s title track (and biggest hit), Drake sings with Rihanna (his on-again, off-again girlfriend at the time) over a Gil Scott-Heron sample.

Around these parts, Views is Drake’s best work, but Take Care is a close second. Drake gives us all the bravado we tend to look for in hip-hop while showing a bit of vulnerability, and it is the latter that makes the album so special. That confidence in doing things that could get you ridiculed results in music that is unburdened by the performative machismo that constrains so many rappers.

Take Care won Drake his first Grammy Award — for Best Rap Album. It would go on to become his best-selling album and has been certified six times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Favorite track: “Look What You’ve Down”

Yesterday was Britneypendence Day — the 13-year conservatorship that controlled every part of Britney Spears’ life was officially terminated.

According to Variety, a sealed termination plan was filed with the court this past Monday. John Zabel, the accountant who replaced Jamie Spears (Britney’s father) after his suspension will have limited administrative authority as part of the plan. Additional hearings will be held on December 8 and January 19.

Beyoncé’s contribution to the King Richard soundtrack dropped last night and it is in keeping with the pro-black themes that have permeated all of her music in the last half-decade. The song has a rock-ish beat that will remind you of The Doors’ “Five to One,” which was sampled by her husband on “Takeover” — his 2001 diss track directed at Nas and Mobb Deep. It’s not clear if it officially samples this song, but the folks at Genius seem to agree.

“Be Alive” was co-written by Bey and Roc Nation signee Dixson. Check it out below.

Between a new TV show and a baby on the way, it’s a good time to be Eve. Not to mention, she celebrated her 43rd birthday yesterday.

Eve is not one of the first names mentioned when people discuss the Queen of Rap title, but for a moment in the early 2000s, she was arguably the hottest female rapper in the game. My personal favorite from her catalog is 2002’s “Gangsta Lovin’,” which features then-newcomer Alicia Keys. Produced by Irv Gotti and & Aurelius, the song samples Yarbrough & Peoples’ “Don’t Stop the Music”.

“Gangsta Lovin'” was the lead single of Eve’s third LP, Eve-Olution, and is one of her biggest hits, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Bruno Mars & Anderson.Paak are back with a song about finding out your girlfriend is everybody’s girlfriend. And as if that discovery wasn’t bad enough, you now have to fight her ex, who happens to be in the UFC. Trust no woman.

“Smokin out the Window” — Silk Sonic’s third single — doesn’t quite measure up to “Skate” but is definitely superior to “Leave the Door Open.” In just three days, the video has all ready gotten 11 million views on YouTube, so expect a top-five debut on the Billboard Hot 100.

The duo’s album — which we were supposed to get back in May — drops on Friday. Watch “Smokin out the Window” below.

This past Friday, Mariah Carey dropped a new Christmas song because you can never have too many. The Queen of Christmas — who is already climbing back up the charts with “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — tapped Khalid and Kirk Franklin for “Fall in Love at Christmas,” which is going to be part of her second Christmas special, Mariah’s Christmas: The Magic Continues.

With the exception of a brief interpolation of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Fall in Love” doesn’t have any of the standard markings of a Christmas song, which aren’t necessarily a requirement. Sonically, it will remind you of an old Donell Jones song until the last minute or so, where it (fortunately) goes full Kirk Franklin.

Check the song and video out below.

Today is Diddy’s 52nd birthday, so it’s only right that we take a look back at the remix to “It’s All About the Benjamins.”

If you’re confused, let me explain: The version of “It’s All About the Benjamins” we know and love is actually a remix. An earlier version of the song had appeared on DJ Clue’s Holiday Holdup mixtape in December 1996. This version only had verses from Diddy (then called Puff Daddy) and two thirds of The LOX (Jadakiss and Sheek Louch).

A few months later, a remix of the song would appear on Diddy’s debut album, No Way Out. On this version, there are two additional verses in addition to the three on the original — one from Lil’ Kim and another from The Notorious B.I.G. Also, unlike the original, this version has a hook. The addition of immortal words, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” was the brain child of a then-unknown singer and rapper named Melissa Elliott, who would soon be known to the world as Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott. According to Sheek Louch, she is also the reason why The LOX’s third member, Styles P, didn’t make the song.

“It’s All About the Benjamins” is based on a sample of “I Did It for Love” by Love Unlimited. An additional sample — “It’s Great to Be Here” by The Jacksons — is used for Biggie’s verse. The song would peak at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Diddy’s first single (as a lead artist) to miss the No. 1 spot.

“It’s All About the Benjamins” is a true classic that exemplifies the essence of Diddy and the swagginess of Bad Boy Entertainment at its peak. And nearly a quarter of a century later, it still gets played in the clubs regularly — and people who weren’t even born when it dropped rap every word like they wrote it themselves.

Tory Lanez is set to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on December 14 after his lawyers failed to reach a plea deal with prosecutors in his felony assault case. He is being charged with assault with a semiautomatic firearm and carrying a loaded, unregistered firearm in a vehicle.

The charges stem from a July 2020 incident where he allegedly shot Megan Thee Stallion in the foot with a semiautomatic rifle.

On Friday, Yung Miami dropped “Rap Freaks,” a song that is so short and so comical that it almost feels like a skit. The City Girl name-checks everyone from 50 Cent to Kodak Black to Lori Harvey to rumored squeeze, Diddy — she even gives a nod to the infamous roaches for good measure.

The rapping on this song is hilariously bad, but the last bar — where Caresha rhymes “roaches” with “buenas noches” — somehow makes it all worth it. Click play.