Drake’s The Man

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by Sophie Milrom
July 16, 2013
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Don’t get us wrong, though. We still seriously, seriously (as you will see) love Kanye West.

Written by Sophie Milrom, illustration by Charlotte Fassler.

Kanye is a god, but Drake is the man.

I would estimate that roughly 65% of the music I’ve listened to this past month was by Drake. Not since my love affair with Kanye West’s College Dropout album have I been so compulsively loyal to one artist when it comes time to unwind, exercise, or have a dance party with my best friend (and occasionally my Swiffer wetjet).

This past weekend I was at a barbecue where an acquaintance told me that he too has been on a Drake binge. Apparently this obsession led him to visit Aubrey Drake Graham’s Wikipedia page, according to which no other rap artist has had more number one singles on the Billboard charts. I didn’t believe him.

Hip-hop has been my music genre of choice for many years. Having been a very devoted Kanye West fan for almost a decade, I found it hard to believe that in such a short time Drake has had more chart-toppers than Yeezy or even his BFF, Hova (of course we are on a nickname basis), but lo and behold, it’s true.

I kind of hoped that Drake’s fast-tracked success was attributable to him having had a bar mitzvah, since I would then also have that leg up. But as I bounced through the aisles of CVS yesterday mouthing the words to The Motto, I had an epiphany about the secret sauce recipe for Drake’s popularity: he produces low common denominator rap.

At many a dinner party I have referred to Kan-the-Louis-Vuitton-Don as the greatest artist of our generation. His lyrics never cease to impress me; however, I can’t necessarily relate to them. As a Jewish girl from New Jersey studying for law school finals, “my girl a superstar all from a home movie” just doesn’t resonate. So sue me.

Yet Drake’s songs are nothing if not relatable. “Started at the bottom now we here” applies to many of my friends who went from unpaid fashion/journalism interns to salaried employees with health benefits. Everyone has – or thinks they have – overcome something and can believe that vanilla-flavored chorus is about them.

Then there’s “I might be too strung out on compliments, overdosed on confidence,” speaking to any Gen-Y’er who gets a surprising number of likes on a selfie. And though “you hate being alone and you ain’t the only one” is almost painfully generic, a collaboration with Rihanna was probably more of a commercial than artistic endeavor anyway.

Realistically, how could any artist come up with something catchier than YOLO, which Drake is credited to have popularized? Not since Quintus Horatius Flaccus said, “carpe diem” before the common era has a motto disseminated so widely*. Even Yeezus, a self-proclaimed god, might admit that bar is set high.

In his music, North West’s dad touches on some of the hardest-to-articulate human emotions: creative frustration, fear of intimacy, despair, redemption, and the pleasure of balling too hard at the mall using your “African American Express.” For better or worse, his language is complex, layered and sometimes esoteric.

Take My Dark Twisted Fantasy for example. In my humble opinion, it should be canonized as the greatest album of this decade. But “this is so me” seems to sell better than “this is so profound,” and, alas, none of its singles were hits**. That is almost as atrocious as Taylor Swift beating Beyoncé for best female video. Almost.

I don’t mean to play favorites. Appreciating one of these artists is certainly not mutually exclusive of enjoying the other. I’m a fan of both. They suit me for different reasons and at various times, and this analysis doesn’t come down to more than a comparison of apples and oranges. Or kale and chocolate. I’ll let you decide who is kale.

Please note: in 2004, Kanye himself explained that “you can rap about anything except for Jesus.” The same rules more or less apply to bar mitzvah speeches, so Drake may have had a head start when he learned that lesson at 13. Thus, my original theory wasn’t totally off base.

*Credit to Amelia Diamond who first compared Carpe Diem to YOLO

** My Dark Twisted Fantasy did get critical acclaim: 5 stars from Rolling Stone and 10.0 from Pitchfork

REPLIES
  • http://AwkwardCity.com/ AwkwardCity

    picture #2 is too good. too good!

  • http://www.mondaynotes.wordpress.com/ Ms. Monday

    Plus, Drake has less problems than Jay-Z: http://probs99.tumblr.com/

    (Which isn’t something I’m promoting here, but something I am sharing. I promise.)

  • Andrew

    The fact that ‘Started at the bottom now we here” was acquainted with unpaid fashion internships basically made this whole article for me.

    http://www.theinclub.blogspot.com

  • http://www.EatStylePlay.com/ Eat.Style.Play

    Um…I found myself shaking my head in a good way at this entire article…Funny period! He was an adorable baby too!

  • ashleymaciejewski

    I was searching for a “Jimmy Brooks/Degrassi” throwback amongst the pictures…

    concretewild.com

    • Leandra Medine

      You only wheel once?

  • dani

    Kanye/Jay Z have absolutely NOTHING on Drake/Wayne. Untouchable.

  • little

    kanye has gotten a little #craycray lately.

    romantically challenged

  • shoresociety

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post. I, too, am an incredibly Drake-obsessed white girl who can recall his lyrics at the drop of a hat. He’s fire. And Kanye’s probably the kale…high-brow and adored by Gwyneth.

  • Anon

    I feel like you wrote this article for me. When I drink I can competently rap every word of headlines.

  • Alejandra

    When I was in high school I would drive to Priceton Review listening to Drake’s “City is mine” and as I wrote my essay I rapped in my head “I’m just a writer flaming pages of my notebook.” (And that man-repellers and gentlemen is how Drake related to a 17 yr old girl.)

  • SouthSideChicago

    This is a very interesting article. As a black female ive never understood why white people listen to rap music. I’ve always thought you must like the beat because most of the lyrics don’t seem to relate to your life. Seeing this Canadian as the rapper you most relate to makes perfect sense. I hope you understand that this article alone will used as evidence that Drake will never be a GOAT so Idk that you did ya boy any favors. Just my observation.

    • anon

      i don’t get it. because only black people have a say in the greatest rapper of all time? because if white people relate to a rapper he can’t be the greatest of all time?

    • http://Visualcommentary.net/ Joilyn

      Since when has lyrical content being able to relate to ones life been the single defining denominator of why someone should like/listen to a genre of music?

      I deducted from the article that she really likes Drake but clearly loves Ye more, however you’re downplaying her opinions because she’s white? Or even sillier, because Drake is Canadian and therefore much more relatable to white people than all the other rappers?

  • http://www.yaochanglai.com/archives/category/weijiezhimi 未解之谜

    博主辛苦,谢谢分享!有空来坐坐!

  • Captive Louise

    I have a friend who is pretty much a white version of Drake. They look identical, it’s freaky. One day I’ll have the pics to prove it damnit

    http://captivelouise.wordpress.com/

  • http://www.fashionsnag.com/ Fashion Snag

    Adorable photos!

    http://www.FashionSnag.com

  • Austen

    drake is the best, his songs are so clever/ memorable

    keepcalmandchiffon.blogspot.com

  • Lauren

    Thoroughly enjoyed!

  • Monica Garcia

    Kanye west believes in ME !

  • Jackie @ Kleiden drew

    Loved the sketch! And the drawing. :) As someone who’s um, a tad older than you, I can understand how Drake’s relatability, latent (and reluctantly) re-occurring narcissism and joie de vivre make him so appealing to youngns and the not so youngns. You can’t help but like him. He also seems to, wait, LOVE what he’s doing. He smiles. And not ironically. I failed to mention that he fine too. I don’t have many arguments re: Dark Twisted Fantasy. The windows of my car must sigh when I play the entire CD…NOT AGAIN J! :) It’s a masterpiece.

  • http://www.quirkitout.blogspot.com/ Putri Soe

    This is probably the reason why i’ve been in love with Drake for a long time.
    And you forgot to mention that he’s cute too.

  • Cor

    Yeezy is an artist. One of those people-won’t-really-appreciate-his-art-until-he-dies types of artist. Like van Gogh. Too creative for his own good. People judge him too much for what he does out side of music to really appreciate his profound lyrics.

    Drake is just one of those memes that your 13 year old cousin shared on facebook and it just happens to be the exact situation that you are going through.

    Really it could go either way.
    on one hand:

    Drake is chocolate. He is so easy to like and identify with.
    Ye is kale. Full of stuff that you’re not sure what it is but you know you need.

    on the other:

    Drake is kale. a recent fad. (or at least here in southern Missouri)
    Ye is chocolate. classic. good anyway you have it. your best friend.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I know every word on the whole Take Care album and can jam to Drake as much as the next white girl but,…
    Kale or chocolate, Yeezy is god of rap.

  • Kim P.

    Unrelated. But how do you feel about Kendrick (yes I think he’s cool enough for first name only status)?

  • the bitch in the room

    why do I follow this blog again? yeah UNFOLLOW

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