Is Drake The First Successful Singer/Rapper?By Jimmy Brooks
Drake. Hi. Step into my office. Make yourself comfortable. I like what you've done with your hair. It looks cute like that. The glasses, too. We get it. You've got a billion dollars now, so you have to dress like a grizzly Boca Raton crocodile who lives for Early Bird Specials and discount tip calculators and shit. That's perfect; don't change a thing. You're an innovator in the field of "the rap music." Here's a cigar. Oh, you've already got one? Great. Have another.
So, Drake, I've called you into my office today to address some comments you made to The Jewish Chronicle, saying, "There were people who incorporated melody before me, but I would deem myself the first person to successfully rap and sing." Now, this is one of those pull quotes that will inevitably launch a million rap nerd tirades against you. As someone who cares about you and your music but also loves it when famous people say dumb shit, I feel for you. You were probably fed some leading-ass question about combining rap with singing and the actual answer—that you're completely fucking wrong—was too complicated to explain to the nice reporter bro at The Jewish Chronicle.
So, Drake, I have called you into my office to give you a lesson as to why you are hilariously incorrect. First off, "rapping" as a mode of expression is hazy as best. You could argue that the act of melodically speaking over music has been around for a zillion billion years and can be traced to Talking Blues, and that people like Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie were rapping and singing their asses off in the 40's. But that's also kind of dumb, so let's say that what you were claiming was how you were the first person to combine rapping and singing within the particular idiom of hip-hop to a high level of commercial success. That's what you meant, right? Right.
You're still fucking up, Drake. The most glaringly obvious example of how hilariously wrong you are lies within Ms. Lauryn Hill, whose Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album found her basically splitting time between rapping and singing. That album sold WAY more copies than anything you've ever put out has, Drizzy. Biggie had a song where he sang. So did Eminem. R. Kelly has rapped before, and it, just like everything else R. Kelly does, turned out awesome. Beyond those, you've got Missy Elliot, perhaps the freakiest thing to happen to pop music in the 90's, who combined singing and rapping while Timbaland combined everything with everything else for her to do her thing over. In the underground, you had Big Moe, the fat dude from Houston who died from being too cool, Max B, whose "singing" vs. "rapping" level was more or less measured by how much he slurred his words in the booth, and the late, great Camu Tao, the Def Jux weirdo whose final album King of Hearts contained perhaps the ideal synthesis of singing and rapping that you still aspire to. And how could you not even acknowledge André 3000, whose The Love Below was damn near nothing BUT singing? André appeared on your own damn album, Drake. Come on, man. Come on.
Drizzy, I want you to sit in the corner and think about what you've done.