It’s been more than a year since Drake’s golden ticket, So Far Gone, dropped onto desktops catapulting the Toronto native from blog sovereignty to radio ubiquity. The 23-year-old’s winning strategy was hate-resistant: Spit a bit for the dudes, but sing a bit more for the ladies. Yet while the past 365+ days Drizzy’s left men with a mega-chunk of clever sixteens, it’s been some time since he’s softened up for the opposite sex. But with the sounds of his first leak from Thank Me Later, “Shut It Down,” featuring The-Dream, it looks like the alluring spirit of his winning mixtape is alive and well.
For a portly virtuoso with a platinum knack for hits, The-Dream’s only aural weakness is ironically the R&B collaboration. There it becomes flagrant that his voice sounds more suitable for a reference track than a Mariah Carey record. But plait his frail vocals with Drizzy’s monotone melodies and—voila!—instant equalizer. The two compliment each other better than cheese and wine; suiting women with the same sweet vulgarity (“Put that fucking dress on and work it kinda vicious, like somebody’s taking pictures”) through simple, spiraling midnight production. If Drake keeps up this balance of Rap&B for his debut, everyone will win. —Tracy Garraud