NEW YORK (Reuters) - Despite the success of his hit debut album "Thank Me Later," rapper Drake feels the record never showed his best work. The follow-up "Take Care," available in stores and online Tuesday, is another story.
The 25-year-old rapper-singer, born Aubrey Drake Graham in Toronto, Canada rose to stardom under the tutelage of rapper Lil Wayne, who signed Drake to his Young Money record label in 2009, and "Take Care" tells of his rocket ride to rap stardom.
Drake had released three, free mixtapes online including 2009's "So Far Gone" before "Thank Me Later" hit record stores and websites and went on to become the third best-selling U.S. album of 2010. He told Reuters that the transition from making free music for the Web to the regimented market of album sales proved very difficult.
"With mixtapes it's complete creative freedom and there's just no politics, there's no sample clearances there's no producer agreements...all these little things you learn about when you make your first album that has to be sold in stores," explained Drake.
He still believes "Thank Me Later" was an "inconsistent" album because he hadn't quite found his groove creatively in the world of major record labels.
"I pulled from a lot of different places and it was like, 'Oh Timbaland wants to work, and this guy wants to work, and Kanye wants to.' So I tried different things," he said. "On this album, you'll be able to tell that I realized what works for me."
On "Take Care" Drake has found what works, and that is collaborating with fellow Canadians Noah "40" Shebib, Matthew "Boi-1da" Samuels, and The Weeknd, who produce the bulk of the record. The album also features a song with R&B legend Stevie Wonder who, Drake said, "is like family to me now."
He said the majority of the album he recorded at home in Toronto, which made him realize how far he had come on his journey from aspiring artist to hip-hop star.
"I thought about how I got there, what happened," he said. "Why did I drop out of school? And how did I ever dig my mother out of this hole of debt we were in? I just address it all on the album. I tell every story I can remember leading up to this moment right now and tried to vividly capture this rise."
The result is "sonically, a very consistent piece," he said. "I'm excited for the world to hear it. I hope they enjoy it as much as I do."
While Drake has enjoyed massive success early in his career and earned the support of many of the biggest names in hip-hop, he tries to avoid getting caught up in his own hype.
"I don't take compliments well," said Drake. "I don't like 'best rapper' conversations. I always feel weird when people are like, 'You and Jay are my favorite rappers' or 'All I listen to is you and Pac.' That throws me off because I feel like I have so much work to do and so much to accomplish."
On his to-do list is a return to acting. Before he was the rapper Drake, Aubrey Graham appeared for eight seasons on the TV teen drama "Degrassi: The Next Generation."
When Drake was the musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" last month, he appeared in two well-received sketches.
"(Acting) is something I'm very, very eager to do especially after 'SNL.' I'm really dying to get back into it," said Drake. "I'm definitely well on my way to finding key roles that will allow me to birth, or rebirth, an acting career."
His dream role? "I want to be on 'True Blood,'" said Drake, a huge fan of the HBO vampire series. "I'm down, whatever they want to give me!"
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte