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CD Review: Drake

Thank Me Later (Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Motown)

The year's most anticipated hip-hop debut opens with "Fireworks," a song punctuated by hollow pop-pop-pops. Before it's all over, a bunch of feel-blah ennui — dreary, sweeping matte-charcoal soundscapes, references to fame's trappings, nouveau-riche bellyaching — makes the concept of celebrity seem almost purgatorial. Thank Me Later is Drake's coming-out pity-party, and he'll whine if he wants to ... about being 2010's It Boy, about how he bought his mom a house that made her lonely, about overnight acquaintances. Drake's line-reading cadence makes him sound detached, sucking joy out of the few pleasures he takes in — strip-club trolling, popping bottles, hanging with the Young Money crew — and the fleetingly diverting punch lines he delights in doling out. The only time Thank Me Later sounds vital is when Drake slips into a sinuous croon, but those moments are rare. And the album's drab dolor manages to deflate guest spots by some of urban pop's hottest players. Thank him later — maybe. — Ray Cummings

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