Drake

DrakeHe has such an authenticity about him that bleeds through his every word, melody, and phrase.

Drake 75

I’ll admit I have had a repertoire of Drake’s mix-tapes long before his buzz grew. When I first caught wind of Aubrey Drake Graham, he was on Degrassi playing high school basketball player Jimmy, who suffered an almost fatal gunshot that left him alive, angry, and paralyzed. Upon first listen of his duet with Trey Songz, “Replacement Girl,” I thought this was another one of those teen actors trying to be a rapper, queue Raven Symone, Hilary Duff, and the other host of Disney actors and actresses turned music artists.

I was not a fan of Drake, yet I had Room for Improvement, Comeback Season, and So Far Gone and any other underground Drake release. (I take it that I never wanted to be left out of the conversation of who’s new in music with friends; I was always their go-to girl). I may have distantly listened to each mixtape once, but it wasn’t until “Brand New” came through my speakers as I began working on a précis for my freshman seminar that I really heard what he was saying.”

This is here is on some truthful shit

It seems like everything I do you’re used to it

And I hate hearing stories about who you’ve been with

That’s when I got to hide what I’m feeling inside

So you still think I’m confident and damn

Is this going to last? You’re up on a pedestal. Are we moving too fast?

I feel like I’m in crazy competition with the past that’s why I got to ask

Is anything I’m doing brand new?

It was an emotional foreplay on my musical heart. I could not believe this was Jimmy from Degrassi crooning to me like this asking about the uncertain future of a relationship! This is when I began to see him as a real artist — way before it was a single on So Far Gone, he was accepted as a rapper and before the airplay. After this, I started listening to other Drake tracks I had on my computer like “Closer”, “Don’t You Have a Man”, “Bitch is Crazy”, and “Man of the Year.” And from this my love affair with Drake grew.

It’s so cliché to say he’s not the typical rapper, but it’s true. He didn’t grow up in the mean streets of the hood, get shot at, or act like he’s numb to emotion. Did Drake grow up with a silver spoon in his mouth? No, but he grew up in a small suburb of Toronto where sometimes his mother struggled to make ends meet, but he didn’t pick up a habit of hanging out in the streets – well he did, but they were the streets of the Degrassi set. He used his acting talents and not his street smarts to aid his mother. In some ways, I see myself (and a lot of my friends) in Drake. He represents the life of a middle class child who used his education and talent to take him to the next level, and that my friends, is why he is Brown Suga.

’Cause she hold me down every time I hit her up, when I get right I promise that we gon’ live it up

She make me beg for it ‘til she give up, and I say the same thing every single time

I say you the fucking best, you the fucking best, you the fucking best, you the fucking best, you the best I ever had…”

It was blaring through the speakers as a friend and I were adventuring through the streets of St. Louis. “Best I Ever Had” was the buzz track from Drake’s So Far Gone mixtape (later added to Thank Me Later) that made everybody want to know about him. So Far Gone showcased Drake’s lyrical ability and unique style of being a man with emotions and personal struggles who is willing to use his music as a public timeline to share with the world how he feels about it all from the fame to love and everything in between.

The So Far Gone EP blazed the airwaves and received so much acclaim from the industry, even without receiving backing from a record label. Drake signed with Universal Motown and soon after released his official first studio album Thank Me Later in 2010. Drake filled this album with what seems like the storyline to a 20-something navigating through life. “So if you got to go, if there is anything I should know/ If the spotlight makes you nervous, if you’re looking for a purpose… I was only trying to get ahead.”

From “Find Your Love” to “Over” to “Karaoke” and “Shut It Down”, my love for Drake grew day by day as I listened to this album. His songs are the sweet nothings that every girl wants to hear and encompass the lines to a life every guy wants to live. Drake is reality and fantasy, beautiful and damned, straight-laced and grit, a singer and rapper.

On his sophomore CD, Take Care, Drake stays true to his story, expressing regrets and casualties of living a lavish life. There’s something about Aubrey that pulls me into his music, and it makes me live vicariously through his songs when I have yet to experience (and probably never will) what he’s spitting or singing. I commend him for being able to do both and do them well.

I love “Make Me Proud” from this album. I wish Drake had come in after Nicki with another verse, but it was the song I celebrated to after my college graduation in 2011. Take Care is home to my two favorite Drake songs, “Good Ones Go” and “The Real Her” – both tell the tale of a very special girl. In the former, Drake is telling her how he’s just trying to do him right now, but he doesn’t want her to go getting married or getting engaged even though she’s getting older because he’s almost done getting himself together and while that’s winding down, he doesn’t want to lose her. He knows it’s selfish, but he can’t help it, he only wants her. Somewhere in the back of our single hearts we’re wishing, hoping that special he or she says these exact words and soon. I’ll be honest like Drake and admit that I am too.

Listening to “The Real Her,” I realized that this told the story of my life (minus the fact that it’s about a stripper). Its first verse details exactly how me and my special he feels about my journey. “People around you should really have nothing to say/ Me, I’m just proud of the fact that you’ve done it your way/ And the weekend’s here, started right even if you only get part of it right/ Live for today; plan for tomorrow; party tonight, party tonight.”      

I love Drake because you can feel that he wakes up in the morning, puts his clothes, on and goes out into the world being the biracial, Canadian kid who’s living his dream each day. He has such an authenticity about him that bleeds through his every word, melody, and phrase. He doesn’t try to be like Lil’ Wayne, Jay Z or Nas — no, he’s just completely comfortable being himself, and I think that’s his star brown suga quality. Drake is unafraid to defy the stereotypes of what a hip-hop/rap artist should sound like, look like, and make records like. He often gets flack for being so sensitive or being lame, but he doesn’t get mad because he too often gets the last laugh — laughing all the way to the top of the charts.

In an interview with Vibe, Drake said, “I’m one of the few artists who gets to be himself every day. It doesn’t take me six hours to get ready, and I don’t have to wake up in the morning and remember to act like this or talk like this. I just have to be me. That’s one of the favorite parts of my life — I’ve done this purely by being myself.” I wholeheartedly agree. He makes songs that detail his life, love, and future aspirations, one being he’s not being true to himself. I look forward to hearing so much more of his music from his upcoming third studio album Nothing was the Same, set for release Sept. 24 and all of the future albums to come.

To you Drake, for being such an intentional artist who’s as passionate about making authentic music as you are about being yourself and inadvertently influencing your fans to do the same. Here’s to you Aubrey Graham!

XOXO,

A

P.S. The Jaden Smith shirt is so thoughtful. I know you made his day.  

P.P.S. I’ve shared my love affair; now I want you to share yours. Email me at intern@playbackstl.com and tell me your story of how you fell in love with music, and I promise to tell you when I’m going to leave you for an extended period of time from here on in. | Ashley White

 

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