Drake: Feared and Misunderstood
If you’ve heard Drake‘s new EP – which is based on and shares a title with his mixtape So Far Gone - you’ve undoubtedly noticed a couple of songs that were not included on the original mixtape. One of those songs is called “Fear” and it has garnered quite a bit of praise as well as controversy, especially for a newcomer. Find out more after the jump.
Before going any further, I must say that I am not a Drake fan – not yet, at least. He’s just a little too much of a “pop” artist and a heartthrob for my tastes and he also has a tendency to revert back to the typical subject matter (i.e. money, cars, clothes, misogyny).
At the same time, I have to admit that I have actually listened to three of his songs (plus his verse on Jamie Foxx‘s “Digital Girl” remix) and have yet to dislike one so far. The former Degrassi star is undeniably talented and creative and has the ability to deliver very masterful, impressive, and clever punchlines.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, Drake’s “Fear” has gotten a lot of people fired up – and not all of them are fired up in a good way. The controversy centers around a line that mentions two hip hop legends, one dead and one alive. It goes a little something like this:
“I never cried when Pac died.
But I probably will when Hov does.”
In his defense, just before he delivers that line, Drizzy asks listeners not to take it the wrong way. Unfortunately, some people did anyway.
Sidebar: Music is little more than a conversation/exchange between the artist and the listener. Why, then, do we treat artists worse than the people we talk to in everyday life? Don’t we always hear people say something like, “I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but…” and then say some of the most disrespectful things in the world? The same thing with, “I’d hate to be rude, but…” etc. Don’t we usually let them slide because of their initial apologetic statement? Why should it be different with Drake?
Anyway, I thought the line was amazingly candid and brilliant. Not only that, but it gives him an ability to speak on behalf of the new generation – my generation.
Here’s what I mean. I never cried when Pac died, either. I was about 7 or 8 when it happened and didn’t yet know enough about music and culture to appreciate the late, great Tupac Shakur. However, many years later, as I realized who he was and what he meant to so many in this country through his musical and cultural contributions to hip hop as well as Americans and ultimately, people in general – I did cry.
I don’t think we can blame a man for being too young to recognize the implications and significance of a hip hop legend’s death. That’s all the line is saying – so why are people getting angry?
Jay-Z is to Drake what Pac is to so many who were culturally and sonically aware at the time when he was most visible and influential. Similarly, LeBron James or Kobe Bryant may be to some youngster what Michael Jordan is to those of us who witnessed his greatness (deciding which of those two deserves that spot sounds like a DrJays Debate for another day).
Of course, it is important to study the history of any craft and to determine who to pattern one’s self after and pay homage to. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that people tend to resonate more with the here and now than with yesteryear.
Here’s a little more of what Drake had to say about his role model, Sean Carter, in the song:
“And if my tears hold value,
then I would drop one for every single thing he showed us,
and I’ll be standing in a puddle…”
Drake recently went to MTV.com to offer clarification on his somewhat misunderstood verse. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.
“A lot of people also sort of don’t understand the meaning of that line,” Drake said. “It’s not necessarily that I don’t love West Coast hip-hop or that I don’t love ‘Pac now that I’m 22, but that line was just said to show how new I am to hip-hop. And like I said, I was 9 when that happened, so it didn’t really affect me. But that song in general was just one of those things that took awhile to finish because it was an opportunity to say a lot of the things on my mind. That always feels good as a rapper, when you can get your thoughts out.”
In an even more recent interview with ShockHound.com, Drake talks about his upcoming debut album, Thank Me Later, and about the fact that it took months to finish writing “Fear” – explaining that he hit a sort of writer’s block right after penning the two initial lines quoted above.
The moral of this story is as follows:
Real and honest music takes time to make. Drake took his time and put a great deal of personal emotions into recording the song, and it stands out to me as one of the most honest records I’ve heard in quite a while. It is usually very rare and rewarding for an artist to choose to be honest and provide us with a window into his life and innermost thoughts.
Let’s stop the complaints about those few bars or we may end up stifling the type of honesty which produces the most timeless classics ever heard.
Was Drake out of line for his bars or are people reading too much into it? Is Jay-Z this generation’s Pac? Speak on it in the comments section!
Main Image: Stereofly