“How do you feel about Drake? Are you still a fan?”
It never fails when discussing music tastes amongst fellow music fans that the question arises: “How do you feel about Drake? Are you still a fan?” This is not a dramatization either. I was literally asked this yesterday. The answer is not necessarily an easy one to give either. Anyone that truly knows me knows that I used to be the biggest Drake fan ever, to the point where “Drizzy” was my high school nickname (given to me by friends, not created by me, obviously). It probably didn’t help that I had a fade, a slight buzzed beard, and Degrassi was the hype at the time. The OVO lettermans, all the OVO apparel, an OVO owl tattoo, every mixtape, you name it, I had it (I still have these things). However, being a fan who was listening to Drake’s music since the Room for Improvement mixtape days, I have higher expectations for Drake’s music than the average music consumer. With the top chart bangers that he releases now, I completely understand the hype surrounding his name that makes newcomers want to jump on the fandom bandwagon, but it is exactly this shift in music where the problem lies.
Before the fame, Drake used to be (emphasis on the “used to be”) a lyricist, who’s words had a certain charm and cleverness to them. I believe it was this, in relation to the vulnerability if his music that let him rise to fame under Wayne’s tutelage as the music industry’s “Golden Boy. “The Presentation,” a song from Drake’s Comeback Season mixtape essentially illustrates, just the tip of the iceberg of the cleverness that his old style of writing possessed.
“I’m perfecting my craft using more cess
Tryna make some cheese of a single is a process
Get it? Kraft, single, cheese, process
Sit back and admire the talent that I possess
Top notch, no less, oh yes, I’m known in the city
But need to bust out like a model that show chest”
In comparison to his newer music, Drake’s blatant nonchalant lyrics seem effortless (not in a good way), uninspired, somewhat rushed and geared towards hit making. “God’s Plan” is only one of many songs to emphasize this laziness in writing.
“I been movin’ calm, don’t start no trouble with me
Tryna keep it peaceful is a struggle for me
Don’t pull up at 6 AM to cuddle with me
You know how I like it when you lovin’ on me
I don’t wanna die for them to miss me
Yes I see the things that they wishin’ on me”
Don’t get me wrong though. I have to admit that Drake stays at the top of the charts; that’s a given. In fact, he is probably one of the best at the craft of releasing songs that rake in a bunch of money, that have catchy beats, and are pretty much just catchy in general. Some of the songs like “Jaded” and “March 14th” from Scorpion (songs that still showcase his vulnerability) still have high favor with me. However, I cannot help but feel as if he sold out in order to remain successful in the music industry. From a monetary point of view, this is genius. Find out what the fans and the industry like, and give it to them time again, and your bank account stays secure, but what about the artistry itself, and remaining true to self?
It definitely can be done. Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, J.I.D, Earthgang, and plenty more have managed to do so. All of the artists listed still discuss what they want to talk about, whether it be real-life issues facing the black community, police shootings, racism, or the ignorance of the president, regardless of what type of reception it may have, and still manage to stay at the top of the charts. So, am I still a Drake fan? I’d have to say yes… but only because of the vulnerability that has remained consistent in his albums, and also because I’m generally a hopeful person, so, as such, I can honestly admit that I’m still waiting for a song that at least has a trace of the old mixtape days. But, I will say this, when the consistency of the vulnerability leaves the albums, then that’s when I leave as a fan.