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Drake’s Big Bang?

August 28, 2009

Drake_Fader_Mag_Cover

Act like you don’t know!

This post might be months too late. By now, blogs and Twitterfeeds and even snail-paced print magazines have caught on to the most recent mixtape legend-to-end-all-legends. There have been more than a few of those street-built rappers who have achieved critical success, co-signed by both the CD-R-slangin’ bootlegger to the soft music critic—mixtape-prolific Papoose comes to mind, as well as Termanology. But what these rappers have in common (not technically, but in terms of unprofitable hype) doesn’t apply to Drake.

Many casual rap fans can recite the tale by rote: former Degrassi star builds local success and ups his originality factor by collaborating with relatively underground American acts, eventually catching the ear of Lil Wayne and then proceeding to blow the fuck up (but still not settling on a label home until just a few months ago).

Based on the success of lead single “Best I Ever Had” (which was produced by Torontonian Boi-1da and given video treatment by Kanye West himself), Drizzy should be poised to become the next Ludacris. He’s lyrical enough, has an ear for beats and possess enough—or even more—family-friendly crossover appeal to cushion a well-maintained rap career. As much as some rap blog zealots are praising his name, it’s very apparent he’ll do well but admit it—you have no idea where his future is going. And now he’s catching backlash for making poor judgment when it comes to his first video and likely-taken-out-of-context quotes from a Fader magazine interview bashing Universal Motown that, in the end, is somehow involved with his deal—although apparently he had no idea.

I don’t think people are as skewed about Drake as I am. I think, for the most part, people love him.  Look at this post: he’s a venerable Youtube star! (And, for the record, while I think he’s a good rapper—his sometimes-problematic content, squeaky-clean past, highly borrowed flow, affinity for singing like a herb and the infamous Funkmaster Flex BlackBerry Freestyle mean that I just can’t gel with the fervor).

So, what separates him from his predecessors who could be considered more verbally-dextrous, more prolific and with street cred in tow? I think, for those who are concerned, it’s a clear sign the game is changing. It’s surprising that given how attention-deficit our generation is, he’s had this much longevity. I think people are ready for a true rap pop star: a friendly, young, light-skint guy who bridges the gap between gully rap and radio sensibility. If there’s one thing he knows how to do (if only from years spent doing Degrassi), it’s shutting up and playing the game that executives want him to play—non-controversial (‘cus big-ass titties all over your video ain’t a thing anymore), sufficiently cliched and willing to work hard to maintain his image.

If anything, I’ll give him real respect for his hustle—and for getting Kanye, Eminem and Wayne on his track—but I’m curious to see what the end product will be when So Far Gone is re-released

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Simon permalink*
    August 28, 2009 7:17 pm

    Also, him and Matisyahu have the Jewish hip-hop demographic completely cornered. It’s all about untapped markets.

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