Drake Hot Canadian Summer: How Drake closed out the summer with some heat
It’s late on a hot summer night at my house in Collingswood, NJ. Nearly everyone is asleep, the air conditioner is on at full blast(East Coast humidity is a bitch), I’m sipping on some Pepsi(it’s been a rough day) and I find myself, just as I’ve found myself the last seven nights before this one, nodding/dancing/swaying to Drake’s new track “Hotline Bling”. Though, I cannot identify which singular quality of this song that I like, it’s just one of those things that feels right. It feels so right that I get the hunch that it’s wrong. Like turning the neighborhood hoe into a housewife. Either way, the past three releases from the 6 God have been hitting all my musical funny bones, a feat he hasn’t accomplished since 2011’s Take Care. Needless to say, before July, Drizzy had my curiousity, but now he’s got my attention. So, lets recap what the man’s been up to
The past six weeks of summer have been filled with almost nothing but home runs for Drake. It all began with Meek Mill calling Drake out via Twitter for not sharing a link to his album, claiming that Drake didn’t share the album because Meek found out he uses ghost writers, despite never providing real proof(*cue losing horn*). Not only did Meek make a fool of himself by looking like a SoundCloud rapper bitter about his buddies not sharing his mixtape, it made him vulnerable to the relatively meh onslaught that we all would foam at the mouth over. It’s amazing how thirsty we are for confrontation these days.
The Meek Mill-Drake beef was the furthest thing from Jay Z-Nas, East Coast-West Coast, or Boogie Down-Juice Crew. In fact, Meek-Drake had the intensity of a pillow fight, which is a good sign for humanity, considering that our favorite rappers have evolved from using the aforementioned trigger fingers to their twitter fingers. Not to mention that Drake celebrated his victory by wiping his feet clean with Meek via memes(how millennial of him) on the display screen behind him at his OVO Fest set. I dream of the day that Meek Mill spots Drake at the club just so he can run up on him and poke him on Facebook. That’s when things get out of hand.
I’ll be the first to say that Aubrey Graham’s work over the past three years or so has been spotty to me. His last “album” Nothing Was The Same seemed to fall a bit flat, but served as an otherwise progressive move in terms of where he was headed sonically. Fast forward to January 2015 and we got a mixtape in If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which features a more lyrically centric Drake, which happens to be my least favorite kind of Drake, but once again another sonic progression. I call most of these projects spotty because there are moments in which Drake seems to be expanding himself farther as an artist and others where he seems to be unintentionally mastering artistic futility(*cough* Started From the Bottom *cough*). That’s my problem with Drake and the people who say he’s the best rapper in the game. I respect that he’s carved his own lane at this point to become the most popular figure in the genre today, but I don’t believe he is the best songwriter or lyricist that there is out there today. Regardless of these notions, I’ve found his most recent tracks to be quite choice.
The initial Meek Mill diss “Charged Up” was very meh to say the least, and Drake apologists want to defend how boring it was, but I won’t buy that for a second. I firmly believe that even Drake found it to be not up to snuff, which is why he released “Back to Back”. On the flip side, “Back to Back” has some serious swagger to it, displaying Drake’s quick wit and sense of humor that you wish he tried to display a bit more all the time. He even takes away the only thing of worth that Meek could have used against him in a diss with the line: “Twitter fingers turn to trigger fingers, you gettin’ bodied by a singin’ nigga”. The fight was over early and we all realized how stupid we were for paying $60 to even watch it. Drake wins, 1st round KO, case closed.
On August 3rd, Drake released a new track entitled “Right Hand” and shiiiiiitttttt, that beat is fucking dope. Out of the four tracks Drake has released in the past four weeks, this one has to be the most subtle, yet the most sexy of the bunch. I mean, come on, that fucking bass is so dirty. It’s interesting that he released this after “Hotline Bling” because as much as the earlier track is about old flames, this seems to be about a budding relationship, whether it be emotional or purely sexual is beside the point. It’s nothing too special lyrically, but I think Drake doesn’t do anything to mess it up, he keeps it subtle. Ever since Drake dropped NWTS he’s been seeking out less glossy yet more minimal, chill wave-esque production than ever. The distinct quality that I believe Drake possesses is his ability to be so disconnected in some songs from the person he’s writing to, but then so suddenly switched on emotionally on others. He’s a manipulative fuck, but he can get away with it because of how personal he is. He’s almost too honest, too raw, too convincing to a fault. Other times, he’s straddling the line between downtown cool and frustratingly apathetic/condescending.
The first time I heard “Hotline Bling” the first thing I thought was “this beat is like the plague, man.” It just grabs you. This makes me think of that quote from the movie Almost Famous, when Lester Bangs says “Music, you know, true music, not just rock ‘n’ roll, it chooses you. It lives in your car, or alone, listening to your headphones — you know, with the vast, scenic bridges and angelic choirs in your brain. It is a place apart from the vast, benign lap of America. Did you know that “The Letter” by The Box Tops was a minute and 58 seconds long? Means nothing. Nil. But it takes them less than two minutes to accomplish what Jethro Tull takes hours to not accomplish!” This song most definitely chose me. Whether or not Drake does anything special lyrically once again here, the beat is infectious, and Drake finds a way to pick his spots. The song samples “Why Can’t We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas which is responsible for the very intimate, stripped down jazzy Hammond organ and drum work.
The song seems to be directed at his ex-girlfriend Nebby, a woman of whom Drake seems to have an album’s worth of songs directed toward at this point. This is what makes Drake a genre crossover guy. He’s probably as much of a pop star as he is rapper, and he knows that. Drizzy is at his best when he crosses over into R&B territory. Like most pop stars, Drake has the tendency to be so painfully corny sometimes, but on this track he keeps it together. Anyone with a brain knows he’s never gonna be at the top of the food chain lyrically, he likes to attack you with open letters and moody production. He knows his game and he plays it well for the most part. Whether or not he hits the all right spots when September rolls around and his upcoming album Views From The 6 is released remains to be seen, but it was nice to see Drizzy swooping in to save Hip Hop’s summer of obscurity.