It never fails: every single time I tell someone that I’m into hip-hop, they ask me the same question: “What do you think about Drake?” For being the smooth-talking, hook-cooking, hit-shitting icon that he is, Aubrey “Drake” Graham seems to be the most controversial figure in hip-hop. Maybe it’s because we knew him first as the kid in the wheelchair in Degrassi (although no one seemed to have a problem with Will Smith when he started rapping). Perhaps it’s because his ascent to stardom didn’t fit the traditional rapper’s come-up—growing up in the projects, dealing drugs on the corner, gaining ‘hood’ recognition, then rapping about it-. Drake never did all that, but he maintains this odd cigar-smoking, wine-sipping swagger that makes you think he just inherited 20 million dollars and needs to spend it all in a week. Then he throws in some sensitive, thoughtful spoken word poetry at the end of “Headlines” and you sit there wondering if you like it or not; and if you even like Drake, or hip-hop, or cigars and wine. This is all very confusing, but it’ll be ok.
But to answer your question, I love Drake. I love that no matter how many people question his authenticity as a rapper, he keeps making catchy music that gives me goosebumps the first time I hear it. I love that, no matter how many people question his sexuality because he has the balls to talk about his relationship flaws with women, he stays as honest as they come. Drake treats his music like a compiled diary of broken hearts and bitter ex-girlfriends and crazy nights with his friends. He has a way of putting his problems into catchy verses that make you understand exactly how he feels. I find myself empathizing with this multi-millionaire on a daily basis. Maybe a comparative essay touting Mr. Graham as the 21st century beat poet is on the way. But anyways…
The only problem I have with Drake is that he signed to Young Money when he could’ve been just as successful on his own. I was afraid he would plateau as the resident hook-maker for the YMCMB clan. Granted, while he does just that for Birdman, Weezy, and the rest, Drake remains entirely unique in his albums. You see, Drake takes his music career much more seriously than anyone’s opinions, and the best rappers out there understand him and respect him for that. Then our friend Aubrey releases a hilarious video like this and reminds us that despite his intense aura and life full of problems, he has quite a sense of humor:
Much like the “HYFR” video, “Started From The Bottom” has this jarring balance of non-chalant partying with friends, and Drake strutting around in front of his crew, taking himself as seriously as the Pope on Easter. What the video says, to me, is that Drake is entirely comfortable with himself, enough to go prancing around in grocery markets with his white friends without worrying about what the haters might say about his legitimacy as a rapper in a genre full of thugs and ex-convicts. No, Drake doesn’t care about that. He just surrounds himself with his genuine friends, swirls his Pinot Gris, and enjoys the view from the top.