Columns, Opinion

No Sugar, No Cream: I used to love Drake

I loved Drake. Love-d. Used to love. Past tense.

I loved that Drake knows how much other people love him and uses it to his advantage. I loved “Duppy Freestyle”  —  loved how so much of the song was him talking about how he couldn’t believe someone would dare to try to call him out for having a ghostwriter when they’d sold far less cocaine than they claimed. I even loved when he dropped “More Life” because despite the “playlist” being an embarrassment to music, he gave us “Teenage Fever” (and “Out of body / That’s just how I feel when I’m around you, shawty”) and I felt that thoroughly redeemed him.

But as of late, my love for Drake has devolved into a minute like. I have a crush on his music, where I once was ready to drop to one knee and propose to it.

Drake hasn’t seemed to progress as an artist in a while, which can be fine. I thought he had as the tears streamed down my face during my first listen of “Nice for What,” but now I don’t see it anymore, which is fine. You can hit a plateau and still be a great. Sadly, hitting a plateau doesn’t suit him. I’m bored of supporting his art when I don’t like it. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still my favorite light-skinned person who doesn’t-let-you-forget-that-they’re-light, my favorite dubious threat-maker and my favorite big-talking misogynist in a figurative “FEMINIST” shirt.

I didn’t draw the line at his sideways critiques of women for how they react to men’s trashy behavior hidden as advice or him trying to help. I didn’t even draw it at his hiding the fact that he has a child (because frankly, we were not entitled to know about personal details of his life, but I hope he lets that boy come home). My finally drawn line has been deeply etched into the sand after “Scorpion.”

I have a strong disdain for albums that are over 20 songs on principle. If you plan to have a 20-song album, you either come with indisputable, ceaseless fire from the very first second the album begins, or you leave eight of those songs for an unreleased album when you retire. I don’t have time for it. How can I digest something that long? You think I finished “SR3MM?” I didn’t.

Why would you give me more songs than years of life I’ve lived? I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a Walt Whitman poem while browsing through a tracklist. If I finish listening to “Scorpion” before 2019 begins, I may treat myself to a shopping spree because I’ve truly gone above and beyond  —  exceeded ALL expectations. I am of the belief that it is not an opinion, but a fact that looks like an opinion, to say that 20 songs worth of minutes is time better spent reading a novel. If I want to read a book instead of listening to your music, you are at fault in more than one way. Sorry Jermaine Cole.

“Scorpion” was 25 songs. It had an A-side and a B-side, as if anyone in the last 10 years has bought a physical CD. It was half rap and half R&B, as if the fact that he mixes the genres so well isn’t a gigantic reason his music is often so beautiful. The setup of the album made me sick. Still, my most pressing issue with the album was not any of the fundamentally wrong facets, but his fans.

Drake stans are dishonest. They refuse to criticize Drake, even when he isn’t creating to his potential. Even when he hasn’t created anywhere near his potential since “Nothing Was The Same.” Drake stans stood by him when he became the King of Unchecked Cultural Appropriation with his faux Jamaican accent. They’re standing by him with this strange freestyle he dropped this week, where he tried on a Toronto accent that he has avoided in his raps before  —  where he tried on a Toronto accent in a way that someone who wasn’t originally from Toronto might.

Drake stans are biased, as fans of most artists are, but his fans are to the extent that isn’t reasonable. Trying to sort through Drake album tweets is not helpful, at the very least. Every other tweet contains the words “classic” or “legend,” or my personally least favorite: “I felt that.” If this applies to you, just know that we all get it. You’re excited to finally be able to caption selfies with something that hypes you up, like Drake’s rap. But I’ve learned that hype mostly serves to ruin enjoyment.

I’m disappointed watching Drake fans because they remind me of J. Cole fans or Childish Gambino fans. They’re becoming a group of people unwilling to acknowledge that their beloved artist can produce things lacking in inspiration. That’s how we ended up with “KOD.” That’s how we ended up with “This Is America.” There is a refusal to disagree publicly with things that don’t really deserve much praise.

It is perfectly okay to accept your favorite rapper’s greatness as fading. It happens to the best of them. They burnout or fade away — or they cheat on their wife. Not everyone can be great forever. Not everyone is Lil Wayne. If you really want your favorite things to stay amazing for as long as they can, there has to be honest and open discourse about the them. You can love someone and not like things about them. It’s just human. It’s OK to believe that people can do wrong.

I make it my business to have a love-hate relationship with everything I choose to love just so that I always remember to acknowledge the harmless faults and embrace the shortcomings before anyone else can. Critique the things you love  —  music, art, other people, yourself. It’s the only way they’ll grow, it’s the only way you’ll grow.

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