Aubrey Drake Graham is a popular and polarizing figure. Even though I don’t actually dislike much of his music, I recognize the flaws inherent to Drake the artist. To this end, I’m not surprised at the sheer amount of hate he attracts.
What particularly is it about Drake that attracts so much vitriol? There are a few things…
1. He Had It Easier Than He Lets On
Drake was well-off but occasionally tries to front as though he came up rough to fit in with the “street hip-hop” persona. Drake grew up in a nice part of Toronto with the Jewish side of his family and wanted for little, so this gets to people. We all know Drake never started from anything close to a legitimate “bottom,” and thus we get a little annoyed when he claims to have done so:
2. He’s Not As Hard As He Says He Is
Just as he has shown a tendency to try and claim he came up rougher than he has, Drake is also known to claim more toughness than we know he really possesses. He will occasionally speak in a manner designed to associate him with aggressive/violent behavior even though we know he’s got nothing to do with any of that and never has had anything to do with that in his life (which, again, was spent primarily in well-to-do Toronto suburbs). A prime example of this was seen in a particular verse of his hit single “Headlines”:
Tuck my napkin in my shirt, cause I’m just mobbin like that
You know good and well that you don’t want a problem like that
You gone make someone around me catch a body like that
No, don’t do it, please don’t do it
Cause one of us goes in, then we all go through it
In this verse Drake claims to be somewhat of a mobster while also threatening violence, implying that folks should want few problems with him because if they have them “someone will catch a body.” We all know Drake is not a mobster/gang kingpin capable of calling in murders. Then he talks about dealing with friends going to prison, another problem Drake is unlikely to have ever dealt with.
I liked Headlines quite a bit, but I see where people are coming from with this critique. It doesn’t seem genuine.
3. He Says Some Really Bitchmade Shit From Time To Time
Drake has dropped some very feminine lyrics from time to time. A prime example of this is heard in “No New Friends”:
The whole idea of the song is that Drake has his friends and doesn’t want to meet anyone new. This is reminiscent of the kind of thing a bunch of cliquey 6th grade girls might run around saying to their classmates in order to isolate girls they don’t like and/or make themselves feel more important than they are. Most men are open to meeting cool new people. Girls are the ones who tend to be associated with the kind of bitchy/cliquey behavior exhibited in the lyrics of “No New Friends”.
Again, I don’t think the song is that bad on the whole, but I concede that it had a feminine cliquish energy to it and understand the critiques. Charlagmagne the God sums up the issue very well in this video:
In summary, as I’ve been saying, I don’t dislike Drake. He makes a lot of good music, much of which has resonated with me on a personal level. Of course, I have noticed that my favorite songs of his (ex: Fear, Dreams Money Can Buy, Look What You’ve Done) aren’t his most popular, and that isn’t a coincidence. When it comes to his mainstream stuff, the immortal Big Ghost’s critique is just about on point:
Is Drizzy a salty cornball who can’t get a grip on his emotions n has a hard time lettin go of exes, coulda-beens and deceased female music artists he ain’t never even met and spends too much time reflectin on the hardships of his upper middle class childhood and tryin to lyrically ether anybody who ever knocked his juicebox over in the school lunchroom or broke his crayons? YES.
In his most popular songs, Drake plays to an image that sells and he’s very good at it. He plays like a tough guy by throwing out a few aggressive lines about “catching bodies” and all that (to appeal to the legions of wannabe suburban thugs out there with money to burn) and ups the softness/bitchmade talk a notch or two (to appeal to young western females, the world’s most powerful block of consumers). This earns him some enemies, but it earns him even more money.
I don’t like the game, but I respect a good player when I see one. Drake is a good player. That being said, the fact that engagement in this aforementioned game is so richly rewarded in our society today is an issue in and of itself. It tells us that ours is a society that prioritizes and rewards the feminization of men (as illustrated by the overly-emotional/cliquish behavior of Drake above and the increasing feminization of hip-hop in general) while also promoting inauthentic behavior.
On the other hand, the heavy backlash that Drake receives for his effeminate celebrity persona is almost heartening in a way. It shows that, despite the fact that our society has been hell-bent on shaming/eliminating masculinity and promoting fakeness, people are able to see through the acts. A very large number of men, despite the abundance of programming to the contrary, still reject the feminized, anti-masculine examples put before them and call out inauthentic behavior when they see it. In short, despite the best efforts of many powerful interests, a lot of men are still (for the most part) men. They resent the adoption of feminized behavior patterns by other men and don’t co-sign fakeness very quickly.
Given this reality, it is hoped that self-aware men concerned with self-improvement remain able to identify feminizing promotions when they see them and reject them without shame, choosing more masculine courses of action instead. The persistence of this society depends on it.
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