Drake Still Runs The Rap Game

Words by: Ernest Baker

Drake is the best rapper out right now. I don’t care what anyone says. And people say ridiculous things. I was on Twitter talking about how amazing “0-100” is and some anonymous fuck boy was like, “You love Canadian cock in your mouth.” That’s how it is with Drake. Some people get legitimately mad if you like his music. These motherfuckers are still so reluctant to admit that dude is killing it. I get it. He’s a suburban Canadian nerd who’s really emotional and his persona doesn’t fit into the prescribed notion of how a rapper should be, but get over it.

The fact is, Drake is spitting right now. Every record he drops shuts down the Internet and the streets. We just saw this happen, again, less than two weeks ago. “0-100” discussions took over everyone's timeline in the middle of Summer Jam. Then I heard it coming out of cars around New York City all that week. Whether it’s digital or analog, the impact is palpable and authentic. Outside of the stodgy old blowhards who hate everything, people care and people are listening.

Nobody else is making music that people can relate to on the level that Drake is right now. I mean, he’s practically released half an album’s worth of material this year and none of those songs have been misses. It’s gotten to the point where he’s just dangerously reliable. Every time he gets on a track you know he’s going to come out saying some extremely slick, real shit. “Draft Day,” “We Made It,” “Trophies,” and “0-100” are filled with that perfect, fly, successful, shit-talking that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. Add that to the fact that Drake is so self-aware and transparent about his success that his stories don’t seem like some foreign, distant concept. His stories feel like your stories and that goes a long way.

No young ambitious person is going to hear lyrics that combine the real-life paranoia of someone looking through your camera roll with a boast like, “If I ain’t the greatest then I’m headed for it” and not lose their fucking mind. That’s how all of us feel. We all think we're the shit and Drake appeals to us because he’s in the same position. He’s not bored or jaded. He’s still like, “Holy shit, I came up." On “Draft Day,” he literally asks, “How am I the man still?” and you know he’s asking that with such an honest wonder that it makes everything he’s saying so accessible.

Outside of the content and all of that sentimental “how it makes you feel” bullshit, Drake is just putting words together very nicely right now. He’s clearly confident as fuck and way too comfortable in the booth and it shows. He doesn’t skip a beat. He doesn’t miss a step. It's awesome. Every flow is in the pocket. He raps in this way where everyone memorizes all of his shit after like four listens and then you’re in the club or at a party and everyone just knows every word and it brings everyone together and you fucking lose it.

There’s also this experimental vibe to his new shit that makes it great. He's not doing ABAB, iambic pentameter, basic rap anymore. There are a lot of multis. There’s a lot of stuttering and jerking and unique uses of time and space where he plays with delivery and composition and structure. I’m talking about those moments like on “Days in the East” when he repeats “already” and “for the boy” like nine million times at the end of every bar or on “Believe Me” when he teases the rhyming line for “Stunna and Mack know” with “we put this thing up on our back,” which only partially rhymes, before he comes back with “and I was snapping off on every single track though” as the full rhyme in the next line and it’s just different and fun in these subtle ways.

Then you mix in all of that nerdy lyrical shit with these entertaining real-life accounts of drinking tea at Erykah Badu’s house and leaving Rikers in a Phantom and getting head from a woman who works at the Walgreens corporate offices. It all just makes for this hilarious, brilliant, cartoonish blend of personal experiences that you can envision like a movie and it’s really the most exciting thing we have going for us in rap now.

I mean, face it. Rap is a wasteland right now. Iggy Azalea is at the top of the charts. The best hip-hop album of the year is, what, YG? And I love “Fancy” and My Krazy Life but it’s not that next level, real, exciting shit. Most of the artists who brought us that feeling barely care about rap anymore. Kanye and Jay Z are married men raising children and shit. Eminem is practically senile. Andre 3000 won’t even release new music. Dr. Dre is a fucking near billionaire who could not give less of a fuck about making music. Of course, there are some rappers still holding it down, but the field is definitely pretty open and you have Drake just standing there in the middle, with minimal competition, still caring, still trying to the best.

And the truth of it is, he is the best right now. He’s in the midst of that Eminem in 2000, Kanye in 2007 type of run and anybody who can’t see that is either blind or delusional. I’m not saying that you can’t think Drake is a cornball and hate everything about him. That's fine if he annoys you. But don’t be so fucking dense as to not acknowledge that he completely has everything on smash right now. This is Drake's time whether you like or not. It’s not dickriding. It’s just a blatant admission and statement of obvious and visible facts. He’s in the zone. His songs are good. His raps are great. Millions of people respect him for a reason. At this point, you have to.


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