Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

December 14, 2011 at 1:21 PM

Drake, 'Take Care,' dubstep and feminine energy

Posted by Andrew Matson

Above is a good interview with Canadian sing-rap superstar Drake by Sam Chennault at Google Magnifier*. It gets especially interesting when Drake starts talking about dubstep and feminine energy.

Drake's album "Take Care" is number four on the Billboard 200 chart right now, standing out from other mainstream American R&B/hip-hop with its complete embrace of the London post-dubstep sound — post- separating it from the megafestival electronic/rave crossover dubstep of Skrillex.

Drake prefers the stark dubstep-soul of producers James Blake and The xx. He likes the way they manipulate digitally sampled voices in music — the hallmark of classic dubstep circa 2007, the producer-treated, wailing vocal snippet. Jamie xx does it with gravelly Gil Scott-Heron phrases in the title track on "Take Care," a song I predict will be a huge hit, where Drake teams up with Rihanna and sings a plea that could be paraphrased as "I don't care about your complicated past, life is lonely, be with me, you only live once."

The type of dubstep Drake inserts into his album, what Jamie xx specializes in and Drake's main producer Noah "40" Shebib does capably from time to time, is a collection of moods and feels rather than a specific genre. It's a group of sensibilities we call post-dubstep when massaged into dark R&B/dance pop with heavy low-end frequencies, considered to have feminine energy. Meaning the arrangements in a Blake or Jamie xx song feature beautiful melodic swoops and bold rhythmic restraint, qualities associated with women. It occurs to me that beauty and restraint aren't innate to women, or necessarily across-the-board desirable — but the sound works devilishly well with Drake's sensitive nightclub Lothario persona, and is also business-smart, selling to people who buy Adele records, the British belter who topped sales charts all year.

Basically, Drake has seen a new path to women, through post-dubstep. The cavernous electro-noiR&B of his early albums is not unlike "Take Care" — but those albums now feel like prelude to this, a post-dubstep pop record where he perfects his psychodramatic manipulation, casting shadows with music, then strategically emerging with self-effacing emotional rawness.

As he says in the Google interview, quoting rapper Kendrick Lamar and talking about his own brain-hacking technique:

"Women are the tastemakers for what we make. Women buy records. And I have this fascination with getting into the minds of women, and truly letting them know how I think as a man, and letting them know how I view them as women. That should appeal to men as well."

*I have written for the blog.

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