Being Thankful

Since Thank Me Later leaked, my timeline has been flooded with discussions of Drake. I’ve noticed that the more outspoken commentators tend to skew older and their commentary reads as rather harsh. I won’t bother recanting all of their diatribes about Aubrey the man and Drake the emcee, but let’s just say this .gif is the best summation of their criticism I can think of:

They really, really don’t like the guy.

To them he’s too soft in his subject matter, too somber in the tone in which he delivers said subject matter, too Kanye-esque in his self-reflecting (or maybe self-loathing) rhymes, and too undeserving to be branded the new face of hip-hop — an honor recently bestowed on Wheelchair Jimmy by the New York Times.

Oh and some can’t stand him for stupid reasons like daring to cooperate with Toronto police after he was robbed at gunpoint. You know, since that makes him a “snitch” and all. As someone both from the ‘hood’ and a victim of a similar a crime, let it be known that I would likely point your ass out with a grin if you dare to point a gun in my fucking face.

It’s easy to dismiss much of the heat Drake’s catching on cultural and generational gaps. Drake isn’t like most of the rappers who have enjoyed the sort of hype he’s basking in. Some of the arguments against him are valid, but many of them seem ridiculous.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way:

The man cannot freestyle.

When I wasn’t fighting feelings of awkwardness on Drake’s behalf, I reacted the same way many others did watching this:

At the same time: So what?

A lot of listeners don’t care if a rapper can freestyle or not. There are plenty of great freestylers who record awful music and there are a lot of noted hit makers who can’t freestyle for shit. As long as you can write a good song, most fans now could care less if you rap off the top of the dome.

Other issues with Drake center on what comes out of his mouth when outside of the booth.¬† First, there was the silly little comment about being Rihanna’s “pawn” he made recently. Some appreciate his frankness, others now believe Drake ovulates. I suppose it’s all about perspective.

Then there are little incidents like these:

That send many people’s faces into expressions such as:

Alright, so maybe Drake is describing recording with Lil’ Wayne better than many recall orgasms, but it’s rather harmless to me. But, it does add fuel to detractors who feel the guy is just too soft. I think that’s essentially what a lot of people have against him — especially those who are older and fans of more aggressive rap.

But that, along with the way in which Drake achieved his fame to me lends further credence to the notion of him being the new face of hip-hop.

He hasn’t achieved his success in the traditional way and the manner in which he raps is largely atypical from what else is out there. Plus, he’s nice. The horror.

Is all of this so hard to accept in terms of Drake’s status in the rap world? If it is, Drake had the opportunity to convince any doubters with his new album. While I enjoy the album, it’s a bit too uneven to truly silence people who think he’s largely overrated and increasingly annoying.

Some of the songs – like the first two singles, “Over” and “Find Your Love” – are forgettable. Neither reach for your full attention the way So Far Gone tracks like “Best I Ever Had” do.

There’s a chance I might have liked “Find Your Love” had it gone to the artist it was originally intended for (Beyonc√©), but with Drake’s vocals it sounds a little too 808s and Heartbreaks B-Side for my liking.

The voice works on some songs, like “Karaoke” and “Shut It Down.” Others not as much — a sign he might want to look into vocal lessons if he’s truly committed to this rapper-singer hybrid. The monotone vocals fall flat after a while.

I’m not up for a full recap of the project, but overall I find it to be a solid album and for a man who’s given me so much quality music for free, I’m still inclined to give him my money out of sheer gratitude.

I have a feeling more women will get into this album thanks to sing-a-long friendly lines like those found in tracks like “Fancy.” That, of course, only adds to the notion of him being too soft.

Which makes some so angry.

I say get over it. He might not be giving consumers the sort of genius Nas could deliver at the age of 20, but he’s a contemporary rapper with no aversion to including words with more than two syllables in his rhymes, seems genuinely nice and sincere about his honing his craft, and doesn’t mind expressing himself — for better or worse.

And when you break down Drake the artist, is he really that bad? Sure, the album isn’t perfect but it’s still pretty good. If you feel otherwise don’t worry — Kanye’s out of his funk, T.I., Rick Ross and Jeezy are all coming back and Wayne will be back before you know it.

In the meantime, stop your whining about Drake’s “whining” let the rest of us be thankful.

Comments

  1. bilan says:

    So, in between keeping my head in dem books and looking for grad schools, I admit that I don’t know that much about Drake. I don’t understand much of the criticism about him being “too soft” when I have never heard of him being from the hood, selling dope, being in a gang or any other “characteristics” of a hard-knock life. Maybe he is just rapping about what he knows–is that so wrong?

  2. Brown Suga says:

    I hate you for that Ray J gif LOL LOL

  3. sickwitit says:

    wait a minute, is that child giving the stank face lil anna mae bullock?!

    sidenote: cosign everything you said, i like drake as a person and rapper/singer, doesnt bother me at all…

  4. I think you hit on the exact polarization of Drake. His Emo almost fem lyrics. Drake raps/sings of Heartbreak, lost love and of being unsure. These aren’t traits men of the hip hop generation are typically allowed to have let alone express! The fact that he can examine his heart is what draws me to him at times much like Kayne.

    I love Thank Me Later because I feel his work is similar to chapters in a book. This album is a follow up (in my mind) to what he was going through on So Far Gone. From that perspective, I can’t imagine him trying to recreate that because he’s not in that place anymore.

  5. Wade says:

    YES! That’s little Tina Turner. I thought I was the ONLY person who paid my hard-earned money to see that horrible movie “The Preacher’s Kid” (even though I do heart LeToya to death).

    As for Drake, he’s not so bad. Despite that he looks like Droopy (as you’ve pointed out many times), he’s entertaining. Folks should cut him a break.

  6. Nope, try again says:

    Drake apologists ALWAYS say his critics say that he’s “too soft” when, in actuality, Drake’s biggest haters never say that. In fact, I’ve seen way more people defending him over the “snitch” incident than people decrying it, and we established a lonnnnnnnng time ago that he is not exactly from the Bronx.

    It’s his sheer cockiness that turns a lot of people off, and how the cockiness in his lyrics/alleged persona has been falling apart in recent interviews and comments.

    Yes, Drake is nowhere near the level of a Nas or Rakim, but the way he spits (“first name greatest, last name ever,”) when his flow is average at best, one would think that he is. For a newbie with Drake’s background, he has a lot of nerve to be so arrogant. (And yes, there’s a line between confidence and arrogance. Drake is far past it. Arrogance is a proven career killer. See: Keri Hilson.)

    And it’s not just the cockiness in his rhymes, but the whole Rihanna situation reeked of Marcus Graham/Jacqueline Boyer. It wasn’t Drake being soft over the breakup, it was a player being played and having the audacity of wondering why and how it could happen.

    Lastly, I don’t understand how women flock to this man when, up until “Find Your Love,” every girl that he wanted to fuck in the world was a hoe. Constantly seducing HOES, the money, cars, clothes and HOES, making BITCHES go insane…we question this dude’s sexuality, but has anybody even thought to question this dude’s misogyny? Maybe the two go hand in hand.

  7. sickwitit says:

    @NOPE, TRY AGAIN

    you never called a woman or man a bitch? come on now you cant expect him to be apart of young money and be a choirboy, or any rapper period

  8. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michael J. Arceneaux, Dee Not A Homemaker. Dee Not A Homemaker said: RT @youngsinick: Although I did write this, Drake should look into not talking as much: http://bit.ly/a1xe28. [...]

  9. Lorin says:

    I agree. The album is good. some songs move like sweat inching down Precious’ body, but when he gets it right, its enjoyable.

  10. Candy says:

    I haven’t purchased Drake’s album but I’ve heard the criticism and I don’t understand it. People complain about stereotypical hip hop music and here’s something that’s not exactly that (not innovative either) and people are still mad. I like Drake. He seems intelligent, corny, and relatively harmless.

  11. [...] The Cynical One opines on Drake’s new album and all the talk around it in “Being Thankful”. [...]

  12. [...] TGI-Drake? [The Cynical Ones] [...]

  13. Groucho says:

    The Truth About Drake (from an old-school hip-hop head)

    Drake is a pretty good rapper. I feel the problem that we older heads have with him is the extreme adulation that is being heaped on him. Dude’s nice but compared to the much nicer mc’s that have come before him, the level of buzz around him is overkill. The reason why young heads are going crazy over him is due to the fact that there are very few nice mc’s in their age range. Compare that to when we grew up and young mc’s like KRS, Rakim, LL Cool J, Nas, Scarface, Andre 3000, etc. were superbly gifted well before the age of 25 (often before 21). It’s kinda like if you were marooned on a desert island and were rescued, the first decent meal you got would be euphoric. Drake is these kiddies’ first decent hip-hop meal.

  14. Mr. RLW says:

    WHERE IS THE QUOTE BUTTON? LoL

    I agree 1000% with what Groucho said. Which is sad when you think about it, because Hip-Hop has come so far, yet fallen just as far at the same time. But I won’t get too far off topic.

    As a fan of music, I’d personally give “Thank Me Later,” a 4 out of 5. The flow of the album is ideal. You can tell that he is a dude whose actually an artist and a fan of music. Somone who appreciates sound. I personally think he sings just a touch too much on this album, but I don’t skip past any of the tracks, so that’s a good sign.

    Drake detractors normally are those that ONLY listen to aggressive rhymers and/or d-boy storytelling. And the other half are those that feel he was just given too much (attention and adulation) far too soon. The way that I look at it however, is like Groucho said, this generation of hip-hop listeners have been fed so much “A-B-C & 1-2-3″ hip-hop, that the minute some actual talent and a derivation from the present norm of the genre met the mainstream… everyone gravitated towards it. For a bit more insight into his mindset as an artist and the make-up of this album, catch his special on MTV (if its still showing), “Better Than Good Enough,” or something like that. Its pretty eye-opening for those who may need it.