This Week in Drake - The "Started from the Bottom" Video is Baffling and Amazing, but Does Not Feature Dan Deacon
Above is the video for Drake's newest single "Started from the Bottom," which he released last night around the time that he won the Grammy for Best Rap Album. That's either a really great coincidence, or Drake took a shot in the dark, hoping his song about being the best would coincide with him winning a gigantic award that would imply he was the best, and actually hitting paydirt. Also, he drunkenly announced his album title to Ryan Seacrest. It's called Nothing was the Same, and it is way less fun to repeat silently to yourself than "Seacrest out."
Anyways, the video echoes a lot of his recent Instagram pictures, which means that Drake was engaging in an elaborate social media teaser campaign that was so elaborate that we didn't even understand what was going on, or this is just the stuff that Drake does every day and he decided to film some of it. Either way, here's a really blurry screen shot from "Started from the Bottom" where Drake's making a hilarious face:
The video starts out with Boy Drake playing soccer and scoring, because sports:
Was Drake a childhood soccer star before he started playing on Degrassi? Does it matter? Fuck no, we're in the post-credibility era of hip-hop. Rick Ross was a prison guard, and Drake might have been a shitty soccer player as a child. All that matters is what is immediately in front of us.
So if Drake's Bottom that he started at is Canadian youth league recreational soccer, what's Here? Being the sad, sad boy king riding around in his all-white Ghost in the snow and then ghostriding it. Somebody call the lyrics to "Lord Knows," because shit has officially gotten very spooky.
We cut from Phantomland to a couple shots of Drizzy's mom (awwww), and we then join our noble hero Aubrey "Drake" Graham working the night shift with his goofball buddies at Shoppers Drug Mart, which is like Walgreens but for Canada. According to Canada.com, this part of the video was shot in Binbrook, Ontario. He gets named Night Manager of the pharmacy, which seems like something that would happen to Drake even though it very probably didn't. More importantly, one of the dudes he works with looks EXACTLY like Dan Deacon, to the point where I sent an email to Deacon's publicist asking for confirmation, only to receive a very bemused reply explaining that Dan Deacon was not, in fact, in that video, and it's actually just one of the dudes from the "HYFR" video but with a more robust beard. Still, here's a side-by-side of Pharmacy Guy and Dan Deacon, just to prove that I'm not a psycho.
Anyways I was wrong, but I stand by my initial confusion. After an interlude that's so horrifying and terrible on every single level that it's actually kind of perfect, Drake goes bowling, which is definitely something that he's Instagrammed about before. This part of the video is kind of boring other than the conceptual humor in thinking about how the most famous rapper under 30 is really into bowling. Fortunately it's short.
We then find Drake having a party at what looks like the official OVOXO clubhouse, wearing a t-shirt with his own song's name on it as well as the type of torn, faded jeans that haven't been cool ever. As with literally everything else Drake does, it's fine because it just is. After that, Drake stunts while standing next to a "Started from the Bottom" a billboard for a minute, and then sings, "No new n—as, n—a" to a passed-out girl while they're riding in a private jet. This time, the overt horribleness of the scene is offset by his soccer ball jacket, which in addition to being really silly adds to the thematic continuity of the opening part. This is probably Drake's most "Acting" video ever, as evidenced by this GIF of him getting to fly said private jet and having his hand slapped by the pilot:
The video concludes at what I can only assume to be Yolo Estate, which is a beachfront paradise where they apparently let you bring a camera crew. Drake does a bunch of dumb dances, people ride golf carts unsafely, Noah "40" Shebib wears a "No New Friends" t-shirt to enhance the sense of melancholy bacchanalia, and then can you say POOL PARTY!?!?
Drake is operating at Peak Yolo, and I couldn't be happier for him.
Still, the idea that Drake "Started from the Bottom" is bullshit to the point where it's an insult to the concept of bottoms. He was a star on Degrassi before he was a famous rapper, and though by all accounts Canadian TV stars get paid middle-class wages, even if Drake was supporting his family on his own, he still was definitely not broke. And also, the fact that he was already in the entertainment industry and had built a name for himself made it vastly easier for him to become a famous rapper, because he was already comfortable in front of crowds, probably knew some pretty important people, and had more face recognition than, say, k-os when he was starting out.
However, I don't doubt that Drake's version of "the bottom" is appealing and realistic to a whole lot of people. The point of the "Started from the Bottom" video seems to be to paint Drake as yet another hip-hop Horatio Alger, a dude who Night Manages his way from Shoppers Drug Mart into an estate with a pool that he gets to jump into while fully clothed. And to some, I'm sure that's a lot more realistic and attainable narrative than one presented by, say, 2 Chainz when he says, "Started from the trap, now I rap," because 2 Chainz's story involves selling drugs, while Drake's involves running a Shoppers Drug Mart.
Drew Millard started from the bottom, and now he is here. Find him on Twitter - @drewmillard