(From Author AJA PENN-TODD. Re-posted from earlier)
A mere five days ago, caramel Canadian cutie Drake dropped his newest anthem “Hotline Bling”. Almost immediately after, my Facebook and Instagram feed literally exploded with a technicolor meme-fest, mocking Drake’s sporadic dance moves–-including a throwback to his role on Degrassi: The Next Generation as the handicapped Jimmy getting blasted by some jealous nerd. How the tables have seemed to turn! It seems now Mr. Aubrey Graham has opened a floodgate of pundit-talk about his wacky moves, branding him a nouveau “nerd”.
Personally, this author quite enjoys the video. I found myself vibing along (turn up!). What I don’t understand is why it is news. This morning, my mother was watching her favorite Sunday morning political series, the wonderfully lispy Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC. Aside from some Larry Dav—I mean Bernie Sanders segments of him being everyone’s favorite Jewish uncle, Harris-Perry featured a segment on Drake. I was floored. It takes a literal panel of people to discuss a music video? Is it that culturally significant? Instead of commentary on the aesthetically-pleasing pastels or the fact that the female talent were actually CLOTHED somewhat, they decided to semi-shit on him for his dancing.
Call me crazy. Call me anything you like. But, I have totally danced like that. If you are familiar with the plant cannabis sativa and its effects, it seems like Señor Graham partook in some consumption of the burning plant material and his body acted accordingly. In layman’s terms, the nigga was high. Blazed. Stoned. Vibin’ with the music. And if you are acquinted with pretty much ANY person in ANY way associated with the hip-hop industry, that is commonplace. Perhaps, even expected. I just read an article featured on Vice Magazine about producer and songwriter Mike Dean’s “enthusiasm” for smoking weed. By enthusiasm, I mean full-blown passion for the craft which in turn has him smoking over $100 a day worth of high-quality bud and concentrates. That’s insanity to me, coming from a place where purchasing every gram is a covert, James Bondian-style mission. I can hear the jazzy theme music now.
So, here seem to be the main critiques of Drake’s performance: his moves were odd and the lyrics were soft. In response, yes, his moves were a bit fluid and unchoreographed. Clearly, he just went on set in that huge puffy jacket and Director X yelled “GO!”. Which is completely fine, the production value was high (haha “high”, get it?) enough to get away with that. As for the lyrics, it was shrouded in that near-incomprehendible auto-tune. The lyrics I caught were: when I hear that hotlineblinnn/I know that means one thing. Apparently, Mr. Graham is referring to a young paramour who, since moving away, has ceased to contact him for night-time sexy visits. That bitch. How dare she have her own thing going on? Your dick is hard over here and she’s out with her damn friends, drinking Moet and snapchatting. SIGH. While I appreciate that Drake even expressed a somewhat positive emotion toward a woman in a song (that’s a goddamn first), people need to chill the fuck out. If “these hoes ain’t loyal”, then what does that make you, 23-year-old male with little job prospects but yo’ mixtape droppin’ soon, nigga, so watch out for tha fire. SIGH AGAIN.
Ms. Harris-Perry, a word. Just because a mainstream hip-hop artist isn’t giving women the verbal abuse we’re accustomed to and decides to dance like everyone’s stoned friend, don’t mean he’s a “nerd”. It also doesn’t mean that he has done anything that should be mind-blowing. I mean, where am I, the fucking Twilight Zone?
Can’t a rapper/hip-hop artist have a colorful, artistic music video that is actually somewhat innovative and understated without the small-minded public shitting themselves making memes about him dancing like a “fag”? Can’t a brother wear a sweater and some sweatpants and vibe to his own music without it being some huge political segment on a national news source? What was interesting is that a panel member said that Drake could not make another ‘Hotline Bling’ video. The public just couldn’t handle TWO of those in a row. He’s gotta get back to basics (i.e. half-to-fully nude women, peacocking-level clothing, seizure-inducing cuts and flashes, etc.). Wow.
Drake, darling, if you ever happen to read this post, just know that you have inspired at least one person to be themselves. You’ve given this author license to dance like no one is watching. To vibe. To be who you want to be without fear of retribution or spawning memes of you with Carlton Banks. To have a video with beautiful, curvy models who seem to own their positions while wearing understated costumes and letting their seductive nature shine through on their faces, instead of force-feeding us their breasts and asses. So, thank you, Mr. Graham. I think I can add you to the short list of hip-hop musicians who have my respect. After that dumbass “I wouldn’t vote for a woman president” comment T.I. made, there is a blank space, baby. I’ll write your name. P.S. Let me PLEASE borrow that owl sweatshirt.