We’ll jump at any chance to not feature his stupid face!
Alex Ostroff: Learning that the Jamie xx produced track on Drake’s album was basically a total rip of a track that we already covered once this year should be disappointing. Except as incredible as We’re New Here was, “I’ll Take Care of U” was always secretly begging for a revamp with a vocalist who could turn it into a proper house banger. So Jamie switches out Gil for Rihanna, fixing the melody now that it’s no longer stitched together (ingeniously, granted) from a blues vamp that merits a , keeps the glorious chopped-up “don’t tell me / I don’t care” breakdown, and voila: Platonic ideal! What’s that you say? Drake is still here? Getting high and snivelling all over Lesley Gore, and condescending to his love interests, per usual? Fuck.
Iain Mew: Having already heard the sampled record, and since this doesn’t do much with it, I get little out of these vast expanses. As a result, this is massively ponderous and empty. Much like Drake’s emoting.
Jer Fairall: By now, Drake knows that you love/hate him, so he’s gonna do his best to pander to your exact notions of what constitutes good taste circa 2011/piss you off by defiling several artistic institutions that this smug little shit has no right to go anywhere near. He’s either cool enough to tap hipster favourite Jamie xx and reverent enough to pay homage to late countercultural icon Gil-Scott Heron, or he’s enough of an oblivious asshole to sully this song’s storied lineage in the name of giving fucking Rihanna and fucking himself one last bit of exposure at the end of a year that needs anything but from either of them. You probably already knew what you thought of this song before even hearing it, in other words, but whatever you think of Drake, know that he knows exactly what he’s doing.
Brad Shoup: He has been handed a gift. Or, rather, he chose it for himself. And what has he made? Does Rihanna stand for the singer’s object? Or could she be another expression of Drake? Rihanna, of all people, gives the gravity that eludes Drake, for all his effort. Even with treatment dripping off her, she sounds fantastic. Drake chips in with his best no-fault divorce story; God help him, he’s still trying to make this water more than toilet-bowl deep. It’s his best single in this vein, but it’s nothing like a one-man showcase.
Alfred Soto: By far the most captivating track on a nullity of a record: prodded by the Scott-Heron sample and mysterious ambient noises in 40’s rich mix, Rihanna for once sounds warm. As for the other star, at last he gets an aural cocoon commensurate with his garrulous sincerity, although I note how The Woman gets the nurturing role while the guy is the Complex One.
Jonathan Bogart: Does he get points for recognizing a good song when he hears one? Not when he doesn’t do anything with it. Rihanna’s fine; wish she’d be that vulnerable on her own material.
Jonathan Bradley: Rihanna’s voice is so intimate you can practically feel the warmth of her breath as she sings the hook. Drake isn’t as welcome; he’s fine when crooning self-absorbed miseries, but every time he “tries” to “understand” a “woman” he comes off creepy and invasive. Not that it matters here. Jamie xx’s production is inviting and unsettling, disconsolate and comforting all at once. Rap’s recent obsessions with European dance sounds and upmarket chic combine to form a track that might as well be deep house as anything hip-hop. It suits; this is the glassy background music you’d find piped through the sort of dark hotel bar in which this pair would huddle together to find solace in one another. The Gil Scott-Heron break is when they leave the lounge and things get real.
Anthony Easton: Quiet, a little tired, seductive — for the first time, I appreciate Drake’s skill. Rihanna, who has the power here and who has had the power for a long time, is more subtle in her control, but the low-key power-exchange begging is more effective than it could be.
Katherine St Asaph: Drake’s mixed too loud — compare his volume to Rihanna’s, then both to the track. You could extrapolate a pretty good diss on Drake’s ego from that, but I’m not quite going to; this is the first time in a while I’ve heard something in Drake’s music besides humblebragging groupie-bagging. I mean, that’s essentially what “Take Care” is, but it’s also music for staring out the windshield at 3 a.m. on a soporific weeknight, slumped in a DJ queue between dazes like “Say It Right” and “Love Lockdown”: music for leaving and wishing you’d stayed. That the tertiary source material would accomplish the same thing remains the fundamental problem with Drake.
Dan Weiss: The music is among 2011’s best, the most gorgeous guitar and forthright beats of the xx guy’s career thus far. Those house pianos! On its own, it’s a . But it deserves better. In its original incarnation as a Gil Scott-Heron remix, it was the highlight of We’re New Here, and yet forcing the late Scott-Heron’s blues growl on the original to carry a disco ballad still felt unfair somehow. So I was relieved when the perfectly-cast Rihanna took up the melodic burden of a bass-boosted edit and the meandering, Caribou-style middle bit was chopped. But then Drake horns in, behind the beat, irritating all that stately beauty out of the room with his horrible cadence and probably drunk-dialing his ex-girlfriend to whine about his misdeed later. The evolution from “I’ll Take Care of You” to “I’ll Take Care of U” to “Take Care” is fascinating — really, make a playlist — but it still deserves one final stage that exorcises — er, “takes care of” — its sole remaining demon. Please, Santa?