When I was asked to write a piece outlining just why people hate Drake so much I was at first pretty excited. I’ve never been a Drake fan and this seemed like an opportunity to lay into him for all the silly little reasons I refuse to listen to his music. But then I realised they were just that – silly little reasons.
“I don’t like his music,” was my first thought and it doesn’t seem unreasonable, but then I don’t like a lot of people’s music. I could certainly stand to listen to Drake’s ‘Take Care’ over the latest Jason Derulo release, but the Toronto-born singer-cum-rapper stirs up deeper, more personal feelings of resentment than most other artists I can name. The problem is I couldn’t start to explain why and so, as anyone in the 21st century does when they’ve drawn a mental blank, I turned to the internet.
The more I looked into who Drake was, his musical history, where he came from and what he set out to say, I was struck by how little I knew about him at all, coming to the conclusion I had no real right to structure an article around my own vague sense of disdain.
The gaps in my knowledge were plentiful, but came as no real surprise. Given my lack of interest in Drake I had never been compelled to discover such details as his eight year stint on award-winning Canadian teen drama, ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation.’ Nor was I aware he was the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have a music video featured on BET, with 2007’s ‘Replacement Girl’ having been granted the honour of ‘New Joint of the Day.’ The more I understood about Drake, the less I understood my own opinion of him and so, once again, I took to the internet for answers.
I don’t think he’s a talented rapper or a particularly impressive lyricist, but he is a very good pop star.
My first port of call was a 10-page thread on Kanye West fan/forum website, kanyetothe.com, where it seemed Drake-bashing was a regular, if not encouraged, way of life. The title of this thread was ‘Why Do People Hate Drake?,’ with the OP at a loss as to why no-one else shared his stately view of the artist:
“I've noticed that a lot of you dislike Drake. I don't know why so many people hate hate drake. His music is killer. The feelings that people have trouble expressing, he can put into words and songs. In my opinion Thank Me Later is the best debut album of all time. I urge anyone to prove me wrong.”
This wasn’t a good start for "team Drizzy", but it did raise an important point – Drake’s ability to put into songs those emotions others have difficulty expressing. This is especially relevant to hip-hop, where so many rappers take a pummelling for even suggesting their little heart might have been broken in two, particularly when Drake insists on doing so time and time again. Here are a few examples from rapgenius.com that might help shed some light on the issue:
Adonis at rapgenius.com:
“People don’t like his soft ladies man persona, but no lie that, shit works. Bitches go nuts over Drake so I can’t hate on the man.”
ApeVigoda at rapgenius.com:
“Because it seems like Drake just wines about bitches.”
Barbershopowner at rapgenius.com:
“Cause that guy makes my dick soft... no homo doe.”
Clearly people don’t want to hear about heartbreak, or maybe they just don’t want to hear about heartbreak from Drake, when there are a thousand other rappers out there who get away with baring their soul and don’t receive half the criticism; Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West (who is admittedly keeping the critics busy with everything else he does), 2pac and LL Cool J to name but a few.
I liked the argument, but I wasn’t convinced, and I don’t think the internet was either. As I trawled various forums and Yahoo Answers pages, the notion of authenticity kept rearing its ugly head – one camp were of the opinion that Drake was a talented artist who had made a foul move in signing with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment, while a second wave believed Drake lacked the thug credentials to make it as a listenable rapper. Prior to his record deal Drake had released three mixtapes to great acclaim, but the keyboard-bashers of the World Wide Web had decided a post-Young Money Drake was a very questionable thing indeed:
Schooldrugsvideogames at rapgenius.com:
“As a rapper I think he has above-average skills although I feel like his music is too influenced by Lil Wayne. You can barely tell them apart on some songs.”
Nicholas at answers.yahoo.com:
“I think it's because he dropped room for improvement which was an amazing tape. Then signed with young money and started being 'told' what to do. (Ghostwriters cough!!) So due to Lil Waynes dying popularity he began to be looked at as part of the problem with rap in it being commercialised.”
In all honesty the only time I ever listened to Drake’s first three mixtapes was in preparation for this piece and they were fine, but nothing to excite me or sway me to give the rest of his music a genuine try. While it’s true the sound certainly differs, following his signing to Young Money and subsequent album releases, I kind of feel the R’n’B/rap route is a lot better suited to Drake.
As I said, the mixtapes were perfectly adequate, but he was never going to make an impact as a game-changing MC without one of his notoriously sweet hooks to help him out. As major label puppets go, he was already on a nationally successful TV show (playing the friendly neighbourhood rich kid) and had toyed with singing throughout his early releases. If anything the Young Money-funded studio time and producer-pairings probably just allowed Drake to go in the direction he had always been moving towards in the first place. He had already achieved heart-throb status on ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation,’ so was bound to capitalise on this with songs about love, heartbreak and love... again.
I have to agree with DMX when he said: “I don’t like his face, voice or haircut.” I just can’t quite figure out why though.
Here’s Spice (of Rap Genius fame) venting on why he believes people have come to hate Drake:
“His music appeals to an exclusive niche, it's targeted at a certain pool of audience. Furthermore, subject matter or singing isn't the issue, but how it's done. It's the depth and the way that it is conveyed. The sound of his music work. Different people are of different standards. His sound is meant for the masses. More emotionally shallow, intellectually pale individuals. Your average person. Very low brow if you will. This world is full of all sorts of people. How people express their passions and the depth of their emotional cavity and over what reasons they get upset and the significance of things, defines their complexity as beings. His lyrics, his sound finds response from more simple individuals so to speak. Personally I don't hate the guy for what he does. He doesn't correspond to my frequency, figuratively and literally speaking.”
I think I already hate Spice more than I ever hated Drake, but he does help me make a point. Spice represents a mass of people who think they’re too good for a certain type of music, a rampant elitism in our culture that has drawn a line in the sand and one side doesn't want to know about the other. The fact has to be accepted that there is good pop music and bad pop music – as much as I hate Drake I’m always willing to admit he is great at what he does. I don’t think he’s a talented rapper or a particularly impressive lyricist, but he is a very good pop star.
Somehow this article in which I had planned to slate every inch of the artist turned into a kind of defensive rant, which I don’t truly understand myself. I still don’t really like the guy, have barely any time for his music and have to agree with DMX when he said: “I don’t like his face, voice or haircut.” I just can’t quite figure out why though.
I’ll leave you with perhaps my favourite opinion from the internet, taken from the forum for sci-fi role-playing game, ‘Eve Online.’
“There's nothing wrong with the Drake. It's functional with low SP count, which makes it popular among younger players. It is a bit boring, that's why people give it a bad rap. This sums Caldari up nicely and to make matters worse the drake has even less buttons.”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.