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Drake: Thank Me Later 

Young Money

Never mind the petulant onstage antics that have driven detractors to label Drake a diva, Thank Me Later is a remarkable standalone statement. Yes, Drake's ego is outsized, but unlike many of his peers, he's honed the chops to back up the 'tude. The former "Degrassi" star's studio debut album boasts a near-100 percent success rate. Much of Thank Me Later's general appeal comes from its production (courtesy upstart Canadian producers 40 and Boi-1da), which hints at floaty, Orb-style ambience. It lends the album an opaque, after-midnight air that serves to neutralize Drake's snooty steez and draw out of it a hazy cloud of hesitation. When Drake stoops to radio-pandering levels, as on the Kanye-produced "Find Your Love," it seems forced and out of place. But when he's on point, it's terrific; it's art. Forget the ego: For now, Drake has managed to keep Drizzy at bay long enough to create something exceptional. (4 out of 5 stars.)

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