Love Him or Hate Him

by Gertrude Joseph and Octavio

Right now, Drake is one of the most well-known rappers in the industry. He’s talked about constantly in the media and also has maintained a huge fan base over the years. He is known for lots of different accomplishments and has become quite the public figure. According to quarterly statistics released by Rap Genuis for the first three months of 2015, Drake tops their artists and song views.

Drake has the ability to convey common situations to people in his music. The song “Jumpman,” off the surprise album What a Time to Be Alive by Drake and Future, charted No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart.  The song became a hit in our society because it symbolizes Jordan’s, a type of basketball sneaker that is heavily popular in our culture. Drake puts a lot of effort into his music to make it enjoyable to whoever is listening. By switching up his rhyming styles and making his voice correspond with the beat, this he is different than all the other rappers trying to make it in the industry. He’s diverse by being able to hit different melodies through singing, making his songs more complex and pleasing to the ears. A lot of rappers can’t sing, limiting their abilities. This makes him different than other rappers because they would just use their regular voice to rap, or even auto tune, as where Drake naturally has the vocal talent.

Drake has a lot of energy and the beats he uses in his songs appeals to the party scene. It’s catchy and makes people want to listen. However, his lyrics have value too. Drake has smart punchlines and his lyrics make people think. They might relate to the things he’s talking about or maybe it will open their eyes to a new situation or lifestyle. For example, in one of his more recent hits, “Summer Sixteen,” Drake raps, “You ain’t the only one trying to be the only one. Why would I give you a vest I expect you to aim for the head?” In any person’s life, they are competing against other people, whether it be for jobs, popularity, money, etc. He puts together smooth lyrics and smooth beats to distinguish his unique ways in the process of representing Toronto never forgetting where he came from, “6 God.” A lot of people say he never started at the bottom, as he’s claimed on various songs, because of starring on a popular Canadian teen show, “Degrassi” in the early 2000’s. However, Drake joined the cast as Jimmy Brooks when he was 15 years old, he struggled in his youth to get to that position in his teenage years. This experience as a young actor gave him the platform needed to pursue his rap career and become a successful entrepreneur.

Drake is versatile and appeals to various audiences. I think his biggest fan base consists of teenagers and young kids, but there are adults that might take an interest in Drake’s voice. Even if they don’t enjoy rap, they might find Drake’s love songs to be worth listening to.

Personally, I enjoyed Drake’s earlier music more than the mainstream stuff. One of my favorite albums would be “Take Care.” This album incorporated more of an R&B vibe and the lyrics to the songs were far more relatable to the average person.

Love him or hate him, Drake is one of the most popular artists to date. Drake is the second artist to have his first two top ten hits in the same week, multiple certified gold albums, multiple awards, and in 2014 shattered the Beatles record of having the most singles on the Billboard Hot 100 list (although Justin Bieber went on to break Drake’s record in 2015).  To put it simply, Aubrey “Drake” Graham has the music industry in a chokehold.

His celebrity has risen so much in fact, that not only does he have his fans as internet trolls against pretty much anyone who has something negative to say about him, he even has Norm Kelly, a politician from his hometown of Toronto, joining in on the fun.

It’s clear that Drake’s influence is not limited to music, but rather his influence is not limited to anything. In Luke 12:48, the Bible says “To whom much is given, much is required.” This means you too Drake.

Drake is an excellent artist who has the ear of millions and an enormous following. In my opinion it’s simply not enough to cut catchy records rapping about millions of dollars and the finer things in life and not also focusing on other issues that are affecting the lives of his fan base.

2012-2015 has been among some of saddest years for the black community in recent memory. Hundreds of unarmed African Americans were slaughtered by police, most of which were not indicted, served minimal sentences, or were not found guilty at all. We’ve seen cities in some of the poorest communities burn to the ground as a form of the physical representation of what it feels like to be black in America. We’ve seen communities of difference makers mobilize and start the popular “Black Lives Matter” movements and we’ve also seen technology bring coasts together through the popular hashtag “#Black Twitter.”

Hip Hop started out in the Bronx as an art form that was used as a medium to speak honestly about the black condition. Hip Hop drew upon the urban and often times poor lives of African Americans. As time went on Hip Hop’s popularity grew but it’s message was still rooted in the black experience. Groups like Public Enemy and NWA stood boldly in the face of not only the mainstream music industry but also the national media spotlight and were unapologetically black.

Today, Hip Hop has changed. It’s garnered a following of not only black people, but all people. It has risen to the most powerful genre in the world but more importantly one of the most powerful mediums in the world along with sports. Ironically enough, the faces of both of these mediums are African Americans. Yet, African Americans are one of the most persecuted groups in society. 

Current Hip Hop artists like J Cole have used their platform to not only talk about black issues, but to also physically stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter group through participating in multiple protests. Kendrick Lamar crafted an entire album that should be studied in not only African American History classes but also English classes all across the nation. “To Pimp a Butterfly” is one of the most lyrical, honest, and pro black albums in the last 20 years.  J Cole’s mixtape “Sideline Story” was an entire motivational blueprint for how to make your dreams come true.  These two artists are part of a small group of artists who have garnered a following large enough for the entire world to take notice of their message. Unfortunately, Drake is a part of this group and doesn’t use his platform to affect the same kind of change. 

Now, some people may be thinking Drake did talk about police brutality in his 30 for 30 freestyle. However, it took Meek Mill to point out that he sometime’s uses a ghostwriter in order for Drake to finally speak about something political? That’s comical at best. Some may argue that Drake isn’t a US citizen. I challenge you with this: Americans weren’t German but it didn’t make what Hitler was doing any less wrong or any less our problem. Perhaps the saddest thing about Drake is that he has great radio hits but once you buy the album, it’s more of the same. For most people, life isn’t one giant party with a few heartbreaks in between the way Drake’s albums would have you think.

African Americans suffer from the highest poverty rate in this country at a staggering 27.4% while Hispanics come in at a close second at 26.6%. If Hip Hop is supposed to be reflective of the black condition, then I leave you with this question: whose condition is Drake reflecting and is he even Hip Hop?