First, a palate cleanser by Bulu, an apologia for making a post about Drake.
Bulu – Pussy & Weed feat. Devin the Dude
The fact is, anyone who knows my whole style in this music shit knows that I’m actually a big proponent — contra Serg — of 4theladies tracks and softness in general. My favorite era of rap was the late ’90s/early 00s, when popular rap and popular music were one & the same, when girls & guys at a party all knew the same words to the same rap songs. Hard rappers could spit over soft tracks; folks had given up on hating on R&B and the genres seemed to flourish simultaneously, and by the early 00s had entirely locked down the pop charts with a nice balance of the male and ‘feminine pressure.’
Also, growing up in Chicago, I’ve always been heavily into house music, spent a fair amount of time getting into weird German house around the middle of the decade, fuck with disco/old school, listen to Ginuwine & Aaliyah, etc. So I guess I just don’t see, for myself, anything all that adventurous in Drake’s willingness to sing & not be ‘hard.’ As my dude Jordan pointed out, Puffy already incorporated the slick romantic ~vibed out~ sound in Last Train to Paris. It’s not like Wiz Khalifa is out there banging, unless the Taylor Gang is actually an offshoot of the Black P Stones that I’m not aware of. I can’t deny there are some beats on this record, and it’s earned its acclaim to a much greater degree than the previous one–but Drake is still off-putting to me as a personality, and it’s something I’ve had trouble putting my finger on.
I do think people give him way too much credit in the thoughtful-progressive-male department, when a lot of his swag seems like simple middle-class signifying. I think the other problem is that, in hip-hop, your arrogance is justified by your struggle. Starting out as a pretty-boy TV star, with all the money and connections in the world, makes it hard to justify the bragging, to justify calling out haters as guys who aren’t getting laid. I mean, I do aite, but it’s not exactly an accomplishment to be getting it in more often than I am; not everyone is built to be Wilt.
It’s not that Drake is inauthentic; it’s that he’s co-opted the swagger of the ‘authentic’ — meaning, a language sourced from struggle, the narrative rappers construct that gives the sense that they’ve earned their arrogance — & tried to convince us that being ‘soft’ (aiming for a female audience) and not having a street background is a struggle all its own. I don’t really buy that, though; if there was a single label head in America who shut a door to an attractive TV star whose elevator pitch was ‘R&B records with hip-hop swag targeted at the ladies” because the artist didn’t live a “Juicy” life, then he’s the dumbest man in America.
Drake’s music takes no risks and has nothing at stake, and is pretty much diametrically opposed to the idea of putting anything at stake in general. He’s a pop star of the blandest sort.
I think we, as rap listeners, have been very slow to acknowledge that since the circa-00 chart dominance of rap the form has been fully processed by the pop industry. That is to say, rapping and the sonic signifiers of rap have been co-opted, just as every divergent form eventually is, and there is no real distance between Drake and Kesha &c &c.
I agree. I was hoping to get more of a personal story from Drake. I was listening to “Take Care” wondering what’s the story behind this and is it his?
Drake almost manages to make rapping about sex as creepy to listen to as his fellow Toronto dweller Mindbender Futurama.
I think the Weeknd dude is actually creepier.
I hope you checked that Bulu joint though, Devin sounds too stoned to write verses but Bulu kills it — includes the line “I ain’t kidding, abortion” and ends his verse telling someone to eat a pistol
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