Why did y’all tell Me is a story where I observe something that everyone else already observed and figured out two years ago, but I wasn’t paying attention. The first entry is about rapper/singer Drake of whom I was paying no attention to until about July of 2012.
True confession: I listen to Drake.
Not because it’s the greatest music to ever be great. Let’s be serious. We’re talking about Drake. But because I’ve become convinced that for the braggadocio he puts on like a ruffian pastiche to hide his true, velvety self, what the haters say is true.
Drake makes music for girls.
Drake makes music for girls like how Ready for the World made music for my sister in the 80s, likeNew Edition/Boyz II Men/Jodeci/Shai/Silk did for most of the 90s. Most of his songs are not about how much girls (and by extension “hoes”) are horrible, or should be mistreated as disposable. (Drake usually mansplains why lady disposability comes up so much in rap music.) His songs are usually about “WHY WON’T YOU LOVE DRAKE AND MAKE AN HONEST MAN OUT OF HIM ALREADY? DAMN, GURL!”
Yeah, looking back on it at least my pride is intact
Cause we said no strings attached and I still got tied up in that
Everything that I write is either for her or about her
So I’m with her even when I’m here without her and she know it
The girl that I wanna save is like a danger to my health
Try being with somebody that wanna be somebody else
I always thought she was perfect when she was being herself
Don’t even know how to help, but I guess that’s just the motion
WHO IS THIS WOMAN AND WHY WON’T SHE JUST LOVE DRAKE!?
Drake’s been busy, releasing singles ahead of his new album, “Nothing Was the Same,” set to drop next month on Sept. 17th. Most of the new tracks have traversed the gulf between club poppers (the Migos track “Versace”), anthems about how he wants “No New Friends” and various songs for ladies. While I listened to all the tracks and even enjoyed the first single “Started from the MiddleBottom,” something told me these songs were designed for me to like this, unlike say the rap of 2 Chainz or Trinidad James. That these songs were possessed a self-awareness like on recently released track “Girls Love Beyonce” where he raps: “All my young boys ‘round me saying, ‘Get money and fuck these hoes.’ Where we learn these values? I do not know what to tell you.”
I realized exactly what Drake was up to last year after I learned a song I thought was made by Kanye West with some leftover “808s and Heartbreak” beats was actually a 2010 mega hit R&B track called “Find Your Love” by Drake. I wasn’t paying any attention to Drake at the time. In fact, I often read a blogger named Big Ghost who wrote in the style of rapper Ghostface Killah and learnednearly all my Drake facts from him. Those facts being that:
1) Drake is soft as Charmin
2) Drake is soft as Charmin
Outside of that, I was aware of the songs “Successful” and “Forever” but I often couldn’t tell his speedier tracks from Lil Wayne’s speedier tracks and was too lazy to be bothered to learn the difference. There was also the little issue of how Drake’s rapping style, even voice, often changes depending on the track. This meant I listened to a lot of songs not even realizing Drake was on them (Example: “Fucking Problems” by A$AP Rocky and “The Motto” which I assumed was a Lil Wayne song featuring Lil Wayne with a different voice channeling Nicki Minaj’s multiple personalities).
I swear. I was not paying attention to Drake that hard as a former music critic who gave up music criticism to focus on politics and cultural issues. I had bigger fish to purchase from the store already fried. (And all those fried fish were “gay fish” known as Kanye West.)
What I did know is that a lot of girls (by girls I mean lady people under the age of 22) thought Drake was “cute.” But I couldn’t look at his face without laughing. He’s not unattractive or anything, but there’s just something about his “serious” face, his “sexy” face and his “hardcore” face that make me chuckle. Again, it all feels like a pastiche whereas the “I’M SO LONELY, GURL WHY WON’T YOU CALL ME BACK SO WE CAN GET MARRIED” Drake seems like the real Drake. Perhaps emo, damn near “cry-face” Drake would resonate with me and feel believable. But once I learned “Find Your Love” was not something Kanye West farted out in-between albums I realized I should probably put down my old Tevin Campbell and Usher Raymond tapes and check out this new young fella.
You see? I love R&B. Not this newfangled dude R&B where all the tracks have euro beats and are produced by Ne-Yo (no offense to Ne-Yo, keep making money). All the songs are about getting drunk and partying and maybe having sex later. (You know? If you’re not busy and don’t have anything else to do.) No, I prefer what male R&B was from its bluesy inception all the way to Dru Hilllamenting about someone else was holding me other than Sisqo. It’s like the male half of R&B has forgotten its va-jay-jay begging, pleading origins. Sure, Robin Thicke is a nice start since his latest hit is essentially a throwback to “Got to Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye with some dirty old man mixed in. (Do you want to hug me? What rhymes with “hug me?” Almost positive some guy on theMetro drunkenly said that to me two years ago.). But not everyone is Thicke. Some people areMiguel or The Weeknd, who are also better than the standard fare, but have their own issues. I miss some good desperation music, like the kind Jodeci used to sing with not an ounce of shame. Even though they rocked a “thug” pastiche K-Ci and Jojo crooned about love like it was their lifeblood and without it — they being love vampires — would surely die.
Drake, like these 90s and even more old school crooners, appears to have no shame in his lady lovin’ tracks. As he raps on the track “All Me:” “I’m the light-skinned Keith Sweat.”
And even though contextually he means something different, he could be literally comparing himself to the King of New Jack beggin’ n’ pleadin’ Sweat with tracks like “Marvin’s Room” (a profane version a Keith Sweat song if there ever was one), or “Girls Love Beyonce” where he literally jacks the oldDestiny Child’s track “Say My Name” but this time it’s a dude begging for a woman to acknowledge him instead of the other way around. There’s “The Real Her” and the aforementioned “Find Your Love” and the tracks with Rihanna, “Take Care” and “What’s My Name?”
Now, it’s true that these tracks, while money-making, have caused derision from rap purists who are running around screaming you got R&B all over my Hip Hop, get it off, get it off! But what if Drake really isn’t a rap artist, but an R&B artist who raps sometimes? Like what Ralph Tresvant andBobby Brown used to attempt to do on tracks like “Rated R” and “Don’t Be Cruel.” On both songs, “Rated R” being the worst offender, the former New Edition members attempt to go hard and drop some bars. The result is laughable at best but both get a pass because their bread and butter is R&B. Drake is, obviously, a better rapper than Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant , Lady Gaga, Beyonceor *cough* Chris Brown *cough* or any other R&B artist out there. So he has a pretty big leg up on the competition when he finally decides to drop this “being hard” act, learns some dance moves,drops to his knees and pops back up like Jackie Wilson and becomes the new Mr. Excitement.
Unfortunately, this is very unlikely to happen. Channeling Jackie Wilson by proxy of Michael Jackson is a Chris Brown sort of thing. But it would definitely make it easier for me to say publicly “I listen to Drake” because then he would be getting judged by his proper peers – other R&B singers – rather than rappers.