On the same night Aubrey “Drake” Graham would claim his first ever Grammy, for Take Care (Best Rap Album), he dropped the video for the first single off his third album, Nothing Was The Same. This crowning achievement caused me to reflect on Drake’s career so far. I can honestly say I have been a Drake fan since before So Far Gone, and thus felt genuine happiness when I heard ‘Best I Ever Had’ on the radio. Degrassi to 106.1 KMEL? I was impressed. The dorky half black kid from Canadian TV was a rising star and between Room For Improvement, Comeback Season (1 & 2), and So Far Gone, Aubrey had generated a huge buzz in rap’s underground as a prime candidate for breakout artist. It wasn’t that his back story was deeply compelling, or that I worried that if rapping didn’t work out he would be doomed to the pitfalls of the streets that threaten to consume so many of Hip Hop’s characters. Drake was smooth, he was clever, he was hungry. Look no further than ‘Going In For Life‘. No catchy chorus or hook, just bars. This was before he had a deal, before Y.O.L.O., before he had a Grammy…
If Hov is Jordan I guess I’m cool with Pippen,
Till I mention that I wanna play a new position
No team playing, no screen setting,
because I wanna win games coach I’m through assisting,
The takeover, the breaks over,
Cause I’ma keep killing them until the day that Drake’s over.
And from there we skip straight to ‘Started From The Bottom’. Some critics claim that Drake didn’t actually start from the bottom at all. However, people offended by the title of the track because Drake didn’t grow up in the projects aren’t worth listening to. Music is subjective, and your bottom and Drake’s bottom probably aren’t the same. Drake has been criticized for being soft (he might be), but no one gets to pick the circumstances into which they are born. His repetition of the lines “Started from the bottom now we here/ Started from the bottom now the whole team fucking here” speaks to people anywhere between middle school and those who have full time jobs who are striving to fulfill the “American Dream”. Anyone with ambition can relate to this song, and while the song itself is good, the video’s accompanying visuals are essential to comprehending the growth of Drake to where he stands now.
Tremendous credit must be given to Director X for undertaking this challenge and surpassing everyone’s expectations. He captures Drake’s essence from a goofy-looking kid, to a regular John Doe who works in a department store, to an absurdly wealthy and successful musician in his mid-twenties. After kid Drake scores the game-winning goal in a youth soccer game in Toronto, the video cuts to Drake today “Ghost Riding” his all-white Bentley, in all white clothes, during a snow storm. The shot is as iconic as it is representative of where “here” is for Drake. The video depicts the rise to fame that occurs for Drake and his closest friends. From their 9-5 jobs to throwing “Im Schmaked” worthy parties just because. The apparent joy that his promotion to Night Manager (in the video) gives to his friends is equal to the elation his friends display when they arrive at their dream vacation house. In the video Drake is an emulator of the lives most 20-somethings will never even sniff, but he is still able to make his message seem inclusive.
While I am excited for his third album I am perhaps a little skeptical simply because the story from much of Take Care was that nothing was the same since he became famous. It is clear to everyone that Drake has made it and I’m curious to see how he progresses musically now that he has solidified his spot. The internet has made Hip Hop into a Gold Rush of sorts. Everyone wants to find the “next big thing” like finding a diamond in the rough, so they can claim to be a real fan. Besides boasting to your friends about being a true Hip Hop head, it’s a great feeling to see a deserving artist fulfill their dreams while making music that you can connect to in the process. Drake is one of the most relatable rappers, who is able to appeal to a wide variety of fans. This video serves to severe ties with his equally acclaimed and scrutinized rise to the top. So what’s next?