This Week In Drake - Birthday Edition
Drake turns 26 today, which means a lot of things to me. I don’t like to discuss my age, but let’s just say that we could have gone to high school together, had he moved to El Cajon in lieu of dropping out to pursue acting. We hate it when people in our general peer group become successful rappers, or something. I guess it’s similar to how I watched this kid I knew when I was seven pitch in the playoffs this year and even though I hope dude gets Best New Pitcher I’m still pretty glad his team didn’t make it to the World Series, you know? Despite the fact that I’ve never had any desire to be a rapper or athlete I still sometimes feel like they’ve accomplished exponentially more than me. Not that I’m not doing all right—I can afford to buy several adult beers and Chipotle and a pint of ice cream at least four nights/week—but I do use the terms “tuxedo” and “suit” and “blazer” interchangeably, whereas these dudes are going on private jets. Life is ultimately meaningless and no one wins, so it’s fine. It’s fine.
26 is an important year though, because it means that Drake has one year left to do dangerous drugs before he will automatically die from doing them. Now I don’t think that Drake really does the drugs that kill people, but if I were him I would probably make this the last year that I mess with lean, just in case. I don’t want 2013 to be the year they start letting rappers into the 27 Club.
No New Friends: Crew Love Redux?
For the last year I’ve had the phrase “Adult friendship is the ultimate male fantasy” on my mind, and I can’t quite figure out where I got it from (I’m like 90% sure it isn’t an original thought of mine because it’s too perfect—I think Molly Lambert tweeted it?). What’s important is that it’s a perfect encapsulation of a sentiment that seems completely true and yet remains mostly unacknowledged. Making friends is hard; if I see a cool dude at a party there’s no way I’m just going to approach him and ask him about what he’s been listening to lately or where he got his hat. The platonic equivalent of sex is probably having a conversation about things that make you sad, and the latter is almost definitely a rarer occurrence.
Drake however, has his friends. “Crew Love”, as you’ll remember, is Drake’s anthem about friendship, and judging from his twitter feed and blog posts, he’s got a solid group of buds. And they make music that talks about feelings together, so I trust that they discuss their real emotions too. In addition to the Weeknd and Noah ‘40’ Shebib, there’s a whole block of guys with OVO in their twitter handles. I’m trying real hard not to use the ‘E’ word here, but it looks like these guys are old friends who live all things Drake in exchange for living the life. It seems Drizzy has enough friends that he’s taken to wearing a shirt that says “No New Friends”, and rumor has it that there’s a song with the same name that will be hitting the internet soon. Presumably he’s eschewing new friends because they’re fake friends, which raises an interesting point that seems to be an inherent and totally unrelatable problem of celebrity. If you aren’t generous to your less successful friends and families, you’re an asshole; if you give them even a small fraction of your money, you can’t help but fear that they won’t treat genuinely, because they like your money. I think this is probably really obvious, and one of the main reasons celebrities hang out together (e.g. celebrity x would be fine hanging out with Billy from high school instead of famous actress y, except celebrity x wants to do this expensive activity, and feels that Billy wouldn’t be real with him during the activity because how do you criticize a guy who’s paying for your meal and helicopter ride?).
Taking Care In The Year 1 O.V.O; Or, Go Easy With That Canon
The big news in rap this week is Kendrick Lamar's debut album, the frustratingly named good kid m.A.A.d. city. It's been widely praised, with people comparing it to things like Illmatic, early OutKast and life itself. I've only listened to it a handful of times and no one pays me to put stars or a number next to things that no one buys, so I don't need to form an opinion yet. I'd rather let it air out a bit; like a nice wine, I'll take it on the subway with me and decide how it makes me feel. Frankly I'm not entirely sold and bits of it sound like message board rap satire to me (See: “Bitch Dant Kill My Vibe” or the way “Swimming Pools” talks about alcohol in a manner not seen since that time my AP English teacher made everyone write poems). Drake, however, is into it. Which is good, because he appears on the song "Poetic Justice" and I like to pretend that Drake wouldn't do anything that his heart wasn't into.
Drake and Kendrick also appeared together this week on "Fuckin Problem", the new single from A$AP Rocky's long-forthcoming debut album Detox (Ed: Just kidding, it's called LONGLIVEA$AP but Hanson is right in that it is never coming out). 2 Chainz is on the song too and I'm pretty into it, even if I just kind of wish they didn't say "bitch" so much. Both Drake and Kendrick use the track to discuss their respective penis sizes (big and big), and 2 Chainz does 2 Chainz, which might be bad on a ballad but is great on a song called “Fuckin' Problem.”
Faced with these two new Drake-Kendrick collaborations, I revisited "Marvin's Room / Buried Alive (Interlude)", a highlight from Drake's Take Care, which turns one in less than a month. I always felt that Kendrick’s verse was incredibly puzzling, with clunky, sophomoric lyrics (“Looking in the mirror I'm embarrassed / I’m feeling like a suicidal terrorist”), but after dozens of listens I came to love it. And on this listen, when the song ended I played the album through, and then again after that. Because in the year since its release, Take Care has solidified its place both in my library and in the pop/rap canon, in a way that might have seemed surprising last October.
I think the one thing that’s being overlooked with the initial discussion of good kid is that instant classics almost never are. Albums like Young Jeezy’s Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 and Smog’s A River Ain’t Too Much To Love came out to pretty decent reviews and are now heralded as masterpieces; Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy hasn’t aged particularly well; when Flockavelli came out lots of people thought Waka Flocka was just Gucci Mane’s sidekick; Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE was the shoe-in album of the year in July but I don’t really see anyone talking about it in October; etc., etc. All of this isn’t to say that Kendrick’s album isn’t great, just that let’s give it some time. Who knows: At this point next year one of you might want to start a column called This Week in Kendrick Lamar.
Love in the time of Champagne Papi
Well, while some of us might have written off channel ORANGE as a flash in the R&B pan, others of us might have seen Divine Fits cover “Lost” at the FADER Fort over the weekend and had our faith in the album’s powers restored (thus concludes the totality of my CMJ coverage). To me, the most interesting thing about “Fuckin’ Problem,” probably the better of the Kendrake tracks, is the producer credit, which Hanson and I found on Drake’s official blogspot. “Fuckin’ Problem” is attributed to the duo “40 & C. Papi.” Who, then, is C. Papi? Though twitter.com/cpapi leads us to a guy who claims that he, “Began following movie star, acclaimed writer, and softball superstar Matt Bellner today,” it seems that C. Papi is Drake himself. “Co-production” in hip-hop can be as little as humming a melody or maybe holding the bong for the song’s actual producer so he could play keys while taking a hit, but let’s assume that Drake produced enough of the beat on “Fuckin’ Problem” to improve upon whatever it would have sounded like, or at least enjoyed a presence that altered the beat from whatever 40 originally had mind.
Why would we assume Drake had his soft, soft hands all over the hard, hard beat of “Fuckin’ Problem”? Well, if you look up Drake on Instagram you’ll find that his username is “champagnepapi.” While this is a patently absurd thing to call your Instagram feed, Drake’s kind of earned it. I mean, it’s his birthday if nothing else. If you plumb the glorious depths of champagnepapi, you’re going to find images of Drake holding an electric toothbrush in his hand, him sitting by a fire, him standing on a rock on a beach, him playing both basketball and soccer, him cuddling with a child, an image of him turning a pineapple into a bong, and a picture of Johnny Depp. There are other pictures, yes, but none of them are as funny.
Since most of these are pictures of him, and therefore not taken by him (check Rick Ross’s Instagram feed for a perfect example of a rapper just taking pictures of stuff and it being the best), does this mean Drake is constantly harassing his friends on some, “Dude! Take my phone! Instagram this!” shit? Or can multiple people access a single Instagram account so that his friends can also post to his feed? What about their own feeds in that case? Does his friend Oliver El-Khatib not get his own Instagram account? I just checked and it seems that despite their close friendship El-Khatib has never been tagged in a Drake Instagram, so it might be that Drake’s friends are all just Instagramming pictures of him. This would also explain Drake’s Instagram of himself sitting on an airplane that appears to be closed. It’s not like Oliver or whoever jumped on the plane after they took the Instagram. More than one person is uploading to champagnepapi. It’s just a matter of who, and how long before they turn the account against Drake.
What Do You Get For The Boy Who Has Everything? A Diploma, A Riot, An Open Bar, And Something Blue
While it might be true that social media, even (especially) for celebrities is a hollow farce, contrived merely so we can create fortify some sort of false personality to distract strangers, many of whom we will never actually meet, from the fact that many of us are anxious, awkward and having nothing interesting to say most of the time, I get the sense that Drake is a pretty earnest, genuine dude. What you see (and hear) is what you get (and continue to get).
So when it came time for Drake to graduate high school, he was ecstatic. Or he tweeted about it, at least. What I’d like to think happened was that, as his 26th birthday inched closer, it weighed heavily upon Drake that despite his myriad achievements in the field of music and the fact that he played a fictional high schooler on TV for years, he had never graduated high school. “I’m a role model, damn it,” Drake (probably) said to himself after looking in the mirror and waiting to see how many people had “liked” the photo of his tattoos on Instagram. “Role models graduate high school.” So, he called up Kim Janzen. I tried googling Janzen to see if they were some sort of high-end private teacher who usually teaches billionaires’ kids, but according to an MTV article Janzen is actually just Drake’s old teacher from back when he was on DeGrassi. His fake buddy T. Boone Pickens took notice as well, and tweeted a congratulations at him that was just mean-spirited enough.
With “Graduate High School Before 26” checked off his bucket list, Drake, it seems, decided to have a bit of fun. First, he crashed 2 Chainz’s concert at Howard University’s Homecoming event, jumping into the crowd during “No Lie” which inadvertently caused a cop to get trampled and several students to get injured (tklink). To his credit, Drake kept performing during the shitshow, but he seems kind of dopey sometimes so he honestly just might not have noticed what was going on. Later that weekend, he had two parties in one night, one in D.C. and another in Atlanta. The Washington, D.C. one was at a nightclub called Park, and the Atlanta one was held at a place called Compound, and that one honestly looked like it was more fun. It was at Compound that the “No New Friends” shirt reared its head, and it was reported that Drake sipped Moet from a golden chalice.
Now, you don’t need Noisey’s two foremost Drake experts to tell you that someone having two birthday parties is completely self-indulgent, but I personally think Drake had a third birthday party that night. A secret one. If you’re familiar with Atlanta rap culture at all, you probably already know that the city’s scene is informed by two things: molly and strip clubs. If Drake had indeed been ingesting molly, it would have explained why Bossip claimed his dance moves were ridiculous and terrible, and if you’re in Atlanta, on molly, and it’s your birthday, you might as well go to a strip club. I mean, Wale was with him, and Wale’s career recently experienced a sea change where he went from being a dude who rapped like a second-rate Talib Kweli to someone who more or less only rapped about strippers. So even though I’ve got no evidence to back this up, I’m going to go ahead and say that Drake went to a strip club for his birthday.
There is one monkey wrench to be thrown in my “Drake totally, definitely 100% went to a strip club” theory, and that’s that Drake reportedly has a girlfriend. He’s been recently linked to model Sophie Marie, supermodel Tyra Banks, and Deelishis of Flavor Of Love fame. I don’t know why celebrity gossip sites do shit like this, it’s probably just that he’s hooking up with all of them, plus a bunch of non-famous chicks, just like they’re probably hooking up with him, two other famous-ish dudes, plus whoever else they want. Ours is a generation raised in divorce, and as society progresses more and more, lots of enlightened young people are seeing that monogamy doesn’t necessarily always have to be a “thing.” Drake’s parents got divorced, so he’s probably less trusting of his romantic partners as a result. Eh, who knows. Maybe Drake did indeed go to a strip club over the weekend, girlfriend(s) or no. At the very least, I hope he got to have sex with someone. I mean, it was his birthday.