Drake's second album Take Care has been slightly delayed, but he made good by letting its best banger yet out of the bag today. With producer T-Minus ("Moment 4 Life," "How Low") adding a club-ready rumble to the Toronto rapper-singer's recent mode of woozy contemplation, and a typically off-the-wall guest verse by Nicki Minaj, "Make Me Proud" is the first obvious smash to emerge from the follow-up to last year's Thank Me Later. No wonder Drake says he'll be performing the song this weekend on Saturday Night Live.
It's also something of a girl-power anthem. This, from a guy who's spent other Take Care tracks drunk-dialing old flames, suggesting a woman be permanently stamped with his brand like livestock, and otherwise being more wrapped up in himself than a first-class diva. Name-checking Yale and Harvard, Drake describes a confident young woman who knows better than to take a risk on the type of dudes he pals around with, and somehow manages not to sound condescending when he encourages her to continue being awesome. "I like a woman with a future and a past," he begins.
The reality — that his collaborator needs no one to give her a pep talk — only helps. Minaj comes in a cappella, then slides her insistent cadence and signature voice changes over the flickering synths and thumping beat: "Ain't got time to talk, just hi and bye," she sniffs. This is a girl who knows how to make a guest appearance.