I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Sunday night in my sophomore year of high school, and a friend of mine had kept my head on a constant swivel once “Nothing Was The Same” allegedly leaked its way onto the internet. I was gullible enough to fall for anything at the time, as he consistently managed to get my ass by sending me different meme-worthy songs and telling me it was the album.
But this was 2013, and things were way, way different back then. Old Drake’s gravitational pull throughout the hip-hop community was dense, as he had his finger lying on the pulse of whatever was going on that year (look up “Shit” Remix).
2013 was a year that managed to convince people worldwide to either love or hate him even more than they already did, as trying to settle a solid ground with either side of the spectrum was, and still is, impossible. There was Team “Oh My God Scary Hours Screamin’ OVO On The Whole Way Out” and Team “He Didn’t Even Start From The Bottom What The Fuck Canadian Jewish Rapper Singer On His Worst Behavior?”
And while he often managed to set everything up for a polarizing reception, the mystique behind whenever old Drake dropped something genuinely felt special. Nowadays, ehh, not so much.
It seems to me that the consistent, underlying theme throughout that entire new album, “Scorpion,” is the fact that he is so on-edge. Hell, I’m willing to say the man is so zoinked that he curated that faux accent of his just for the sake of throwing some new material into his catalog.
New Drake is willing to do absolutely anything to keep his top spot, and maybe it would be a lot easier to retain it if it wasn’t for the major shift (meaning downgrade) in that his music has undergone over the past two and a half years.
Having said that, allow me to revert all of you back to where this shift in his career originally started. It was that goddamn accent. This has been around since the dawn of the “If You’re Reading This” era and seems least likely to come to an end anytime soon. What a shame; it sounds like he even gave up on his attempt at “tropical flavor” before he did the London jargon.
It’s just so flagrantly forced: It’s like he’s trying to sound funny or something, but I think he’s genuinely serious about it. But we as fans will never know, which is just one aspect that makes the quest for a wistful image of the global star that much more of a stretch.
After having to deal with this accent for four months at this point in June 2015, it was a lot more bearable considering his music was superior to the majority of his contemporaries at this point in time.
And don’t forget about when he walked into an Apple Music keynote and threw up a six in the air with both hands, talked for a couple of minutes and then left. Talk about a shape-shifting point for the industry. This evolved into a $19 million deal with Apple, resulting in temporary exclusivity rights and countless episodes of OVO Sound Radio.
OVO Sound Radio led to the premiere of “Hotline Bling.” Let’s be honest, the video, the pink and that hat; I had the hat and I couldn’t regret it any more than I already do. But it’s the rhythm that ultimately took over two years-worth of his discography and occasionally tossed them into gargantuan shambles.
Later that summer, his spat with Meek Mill undoubtedly left him on tip-toes when it comes to who he converses with. Did you hear how many bounties he said are on his head? All thanks to the fact that a former colleague tried to put him under fire.
Then in April 2016, “Views” happened. “Views” played home to “Hype,” which might be the corniest rap song Drake has ever released, and this is coming from the guy who made “9,” “Still Here” and the other lackluster songs on what was, you guessed it, a lackluster album. The fact that he even gave something as bland a title jabbed at me a little bit. I had to deal with that as a (former) stan. Where was the intricacy?
Onto the modern day. On “Nonstop,” it’s crazy how 30 seconds can manage to nearly destroy a song to the fullest. The song slaps (“A big part of me resents / N*ggas that I knew from when I started in this shit”), and there’s truly no doubt about it, but bits and pieces of it are so annoying. Cut out 1:04-1:20 and sporadically through the second verse when he refers to himself as “King Slime Drizzy.” I don’t hate new Drake. I just frequently feel disappointed, you know?
Taking it back to where we started, 2013, he featured on PARTYNEXTDOOR’s debut tape, what was then the newest addition to his OVO Sound label and ultimately the second artist in line when it comes to what often gets harshly labeled as the “OVO sweatshop.”
Anyways, Drake rapped a memorable verse about his Toronto stomping grounds, where he said, “They gave the task a purposeful child / Verses start to get a little more personal now, that’s just cause everybody else soundin’ so played out though,” which is just really funny now.
And I know that most of this has to do with the nostalgic attachment I have to his old stuff, but oh well. The drop-off is evident, and I’m certainly not the only person you’re going to hear it from.
So to conclude my subsequent journey for the old Drake, it’s safe to say I think he resides in 2013. Now to find a way to get back there.