The 24-year-old rapper, who's still putting the final touches on his buzzy sophomore set, ''Take Care,'' tells us his five recording rules to live by

By Brad Wete
August 26, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

1. Have a Solid Team
There are about three or four major opinions that I respect. [Producer] 40 [Noah Shebib] knows what I’m capable of, and he’s not afraid to say, ”You can do that better.” I never take criticism personally from anyone — I love feedback. But when you get a bunch of people in the studio that just can’t wait to tell you how good you are, that’s a scary thing. Then you just start doing bulls— and they’re convincing you that it’s good.

2. Don’t Rush It
I remember when an artist used to take, like, four years to make an album. Usher would disappear for three years. It took Justin Timberlake a really long time to craft Justified. You’ve got to live, man. And now we’ve encouraged this generation of instant gratification; it’s crazy. It’s important for our generation to know that it’s okay if an album takes a year or two to make.

3. Steer Clear of Too Many Guests
It’s a calming feeling when you know you’ve got some cards to pull. Thank Me Later was my first album, and I found solidarity in having features from people I love [guests on Thank Me included Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Alicia Keys]. Now I’ve owned the fact that if I’m going to sing a hook, it’s probably best that I just do it myself.

4. …But Do Have a Great Mentor
I had a song called ”Doing It Wrong,” and Stevie Wonder came in and boosted it to another level. Other than that, I just played him music for approval. He’s expressed to me adamantly that he wants to see me on the moon, and it’s boosted my confidence.

5. Work from Home
When I go to big studios in L.A., I feel like, ”I gotta make a hit!” In Toronto, we built this little spot for ourselves. You walk in and there are bottles of wine, Persian rugs, candles, exposed bricks. It’s quaint, man. This album is about living it and owning it and letting you know exactly what I go through. I can’t go back to the old me — it’s impossible. I’m proud of who I’ve evolved into.