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Drake's "Shot For Me" As a Template for Modern Masculinity

A close reading of how one of the world's biggest rapper-singers does manhood differently.

Photo Credit: Lunchbox LP at Flickr.


I dont even know what to say b. Like forreal…after hearin this shit…I wouldnt be surprised if this ni—a could pollinate a flower wit his fuckin breath son. Im pretty sure that son gets up in the morning n plays his harp for his cats n then slides down the muthafuckin banister in his satin man nightie n has a full glass of breast milk before he goes to the studio n hammers out some pooned out shit like this b. Big Ghost

Please take it as read that Drake is the worst. Take Care shows a dark, sophisticated id that Tyler, The Masturbator could only fap fap fap searchingly for. Thing is, Drake’s always going to have a little brother air about him, and that makes him seem less "threatening" than Kanye. It doesn’t help that the ostentatious Drake plays second fiddle to a guy who’s just looking for a bitch that can fuck right, cook right. Or that he and that bitch have a weird, Made-In-Disney media manufacturedness to it.

The sum total of the largely external perception of Drake is that he’s "soft," "effeminate," "girly," "gay," or what-have-you. I think this is because it’s probably more fun for most people to read funny things (or look at memes) that make fun of Drake, rather than actually listen to Drake. Which is fine. I’ll listen to Drake.

A lot of what gets lost in music criticism (in certain circles, maybe) is too fine a focus on a record’s literal message, or on its sonics. This is not a surprise, since the entire reason I like(d) Drake centered on his songs all sounding to me like the platonic ideal of what an awesome song sounds like. You don’t need Nic Southall’s ears to know that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy actually sounds like shit. Drake’s two albums — and this, as well, contributes to his "soft" image — Thank Me Later and Take Care sound like the wing-strokes of a beauteous angel tribe as they flap past the sixty-third moon of Jupiter on their way to the christening of fresh-born universe. I mean, house producer Noah “40” Shebib needs to win some piece of every award ever offered to Drake, because he’s at least half the reason why Drake is near the top of my list of favorite rappers.

You know, it might be me (it is), but I’m afraid of dying a violent death, and I don’t smoke weed. I don’t get most rap music. I don’t get most music — full stop — but I try really hard to get most rap music. It seems like it should be relatable , except it’s not, and I don’t think it’s supposed to be. At least, not any more than any other music. But the personal being the political, and rap being about personal struggle, gives it a documentary air that sucks the wind out of most critical arguments.

I celebrate rap as an aesthetic object.

This essay started out by me asking myself a sort of leading question: “Am I a bad person for liking Drake?” Because I really do think that Drake and Take Care better bears out all that “avant-garde need not be moral” bullshit that was being turned over earlier this year. Being a big fan of Drake means constantly asking yourself, “Am I crazy for liking music without even listening to the lyrics?” Or, more pointedly, “Am I crazy for liking music despite its terrible lyrics?” Or, most appropriately, “Am I just terrible at listening to music and/or being a person in culture because I actually kind of like Drake’s lyrics?” You ask yourself a lot of questions when you find yourself wholeheartedly liking Drake. The big thing for me about Drake is that he gets to the center of a lot of questions/issues surrounding masculinity, and these issues affect everyone. (I’ll be lining up over here for my PhD in Men’s Studies, now.)

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