Frontier Psychiatrist

Drake Makes Us Feel Old

Posted on: June 17, 2010

We made it really nice for ourselves when we sat down to listen to the new Drake album. Lit some candles, got under the chenille throw. Listened to “Best I Ever Had” to fully grasp the journey on which our favorite Canadian R&B artist has endeavored. He may not be the over-the-top formulaic genius R. Kelly; his songs may not make us applaud in quick, giddy bursts as does the dirty work of Trey Songz. But he is our young hope. Twenty-three years old, former star of Degrassi: The Next Generation, Aubrey Drake Graham got his jumpstart last year, with his third mixtape So Far Gone. It included the aforementioned dude’s-guide-to-the-right-things-to-say “Best I Ever Had” and “Successful,” plus several collaborations with high-profile buddies including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Mary J., Jamie Foxx and others. To that, we respectfully proclaim: Damn, boy. Way to get on the good side.

And yet, and yet.

Drake (featuring Alicia Keys), “Fireworks”

Thank Me Later was supposed to be released in March. Then it was postponed, postponed and postponed again. We know this means someone ain’t happy and they’re taking time to fix it. Granted, the album starts strong with the sound of fireworks. Then, hey, it’s the opener, “Fireworks.” Alicia Keys adds her magic touch with a catchy hook (All I see is fireworks/all I see is fireworks/Every night it’s fireworks). “The Resistance” demonstrates Drake’s budding skills (What am I afraid of/This is what dreams are supposed to be made of/The people I don’t have time to hang with/Always look at me and say the same shit/You promised me you would never change).

But then when Drake starts rapping about closure, we raise an eyebrow. Or two. And wait? Your grandma’s in the nursing home? Yeah, ours too. And it sucks. And?

Call us jaded. Hell, call us old school. Maybe the evolution of rap and hip-hop into the mainstream presupposes that lyrical topics are going to water down into the everyday. And that’s what Drake delivers: stories of casual sex, changing friendships, the struggle of finding one’s role in a life not yet understood, so let’s just burn our cares away in blunt-form and forget it for now. Not quite as profound, or insightful, or even eloquently put, as one hopes.

Some high points: “Over” is one of the radio hits for a reason. It’s the kind of fun, danceable, heavy beat that makes us wish it were a bouncin’ Saturday night at bOb. Likewise, “Fancy” is one o’ them that would bring us onto the dance floor. “Up All Night” with Nicki Minaj’s staccato vocals (Yeah I look like yes/And you look like no) is an alchemic collaboration. In fact, the duets throughout allow guest artists to show off their skills, especially Jay-Z and even Swizz Beatz.

Drake, “Fancy” (featuring Swizz Beats and T.I.)

Drake, “Light Up” (featuring Jay-Z)

But after a while, Drake’s meandering narcissism gets boring. His lyrics aren’t yet clever enough to make us forget that his vocal skills aren’t yet more nimble than any other hip-hop/rap artist around (This is really one of my dumbest flows ever/I haven’t slept in days/And me and my latest girl agreed to go our separate ways/So I’m single).

Drake, “Unforgettable” (featuring Young Jeezy)

Yet we give our young Canadian the benefit of the doubt. Drake is on a journey. Thank Me Later is about a star just realizing that his life is bigger than he is, and he’s finding a way to fit into it (Truth over fame, you know I respect that blatant shit/When I hear talkin I just don’t know what to make of it/…/Yeah and my dreams are who I’m racing with/You can see I’m pacin it so that I’m always chasin it). We say: Aubrey, you’re 23. There’s some good stuff happening here. It’s okay that you’re not a genius yet. Please continue to make things and put them out into the world. If you’re alive and lucky, you’ll get better with age. But until then, we’re not gonna gorge on empty calories a la Easy Mac. Cuz we’d rather stuff our faces with bechamel.

A post-script: We think it’s only fair to follow-up with a close read of Drake’s “Best I Ever Had,” juxtaposed against his faltering game in “Shut It Down.” Yes/no?

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3 Responses to "Drake Makes Us Feel Old"

[…] props for his killer verse on Drake and Jigga’s “Light Up.” The original, found on Drake’s Thank Me Later, stays intact, with Weezy’s Riker’s Island, one phone call verse slapped at the end, casting a […]

[…] both have had incredible highs and recent lows.  In spite of Kanye West, Chris Martin, Drake, and Beyoncé, Jay-Z was in control throughout his set and the unmistakable center of attention. […]

[…] get it.  Last year Terry Selucky wrote an excellent piece on Drake’s debut entitled “Drake Makes Us Feel Old,” and I can confidently state that Take Care makes me feel at least one year older. […]

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