Being Thankful

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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.

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