It's unfair to evaluate "Make Me Proud" based on history, but part of what makes this track disappointing is that it pales in comparison to Drake and Minaj's Thank Me Later cut "Up All Night." Granted, Nicki's verse here could be her best since Kanye's "Monster," but the track feels slight. There are only the two verses -- one by each rapper -- and then roughly two minutes of overly sequenced beats, suppressed swirling synths, and an especially annoying chorus.
Drake's in a tough position: The most hyped rapper of the past five years and the subject of a major label bidding war, there are inborn expectations for his albums to go platinum a few times over. He's entrenched in the mainstream, though his collaborations with indie artists like SBTRKT and the Weeknd hint at desires to be an outsider. Drake's talents really lie in his moody, emotive songs like "Shut It Down" and "Unforgettable," not the poppy chart toppers like "Over" and "Find Your Love." So he's forced to split the difference and compromise between what he wants to do (the slow, indie stuff) and what his casual fans and record label desire (the hits). In the exchange, both sides are left slightly unsatisfied, as Drake assumes the guise of two completely different rappers on the same album. Still, two Drizzys are better than none.
- Nicki Minaj