Photo: @ChampagnePapi

It Was a Year in Rap

 

Also peep Clyde’s Picks of 2013

As recently as March, I thought Drake was the corniest rapper out. Not that I don’t still, but being able to reject him and his fans as corn husks gave me great pleasure. When “5 AM in Toronto” came out, I didn’t care either way about “Drake featuring Drake” or whatever Big Ghost Fase was typing in the style of The Kid Mero and I felt awesome about it. I might add it was a lot easier to dismiss “Started from the Bottom” when I didn’t have to live with it as a phenomenon for nearly a year and the Fat Trel version was still very new to my ears.

Something happened in the run up to Nothing Was the Same though, maybe around when “Girls Love Beyonce” dropped. Now, I must also admit that I had So Far GoneThank Me LaterTake Care and more than a few Drake loosies sitting in my iTunes throughout this period. I’ve always liked and had visceral memories of many of his songs. I just didn’t want to be a “Drake fan.” So it was less some cultural shift that made it okay to enjoy Drake (though that is happening), than it just got easier for me to like Drake. I’m getting gray hairs and debilitating knee problems, it’s simple to not feel defined by every single thing I enjoy at any given moment.

So I downloaded “Started,” I downloaded “Beyonce,” I downloaded “The Motion” and “Hold On, We’re Going Home” and “All Me” and even “5 AM in Toronto.” I was anticipating NWTS like it was a newborn niece (no postpartum). The night it leaked, I remember Los Angeles Clipper Jared Dudley asked his Twitter followers which track was their favorite. I replied “Worst Behavior,” then deleted it to type “Connect,” then deleted that to type “Too Much.” Somewhere it felt good – emotionally, socially, physically – for me to enjoy the music of Drake. This was his third number one album, with his best first week sales.

I liked the Kanye West album more – I’ve always liked Kanye West more. When given the chance, I went to the Kanye show and not the Drake show, even though Drake actually came to my city. I even bought the Kanye album. But the Drake album, with its singles and the singing and the girls begging to dance to it at parties, felt much more real. I no longer wish to distance myself from something as American as a Toronto-born child actor-turned-rapper. I’ll take the Ellen jokes and the pleas to his mother, the cheesy outfits and the trolling of Wu-Tang fans while proving himself to be one of them. I laugh at him and cry with him. I don’t know a better definition of a friend.

Kanye is much more of a soldier, battling on the other side of the world in private jets and late night talk shows. I support his fight even when I disagree with it. He wants awesomeness while not giving a shit what about what other people’s idea of awesomeness is. Yeezus was probably more influential of an album. It’s what ultimately made Jay-Z’s Samsung-sponsored and Eminem’s Call of Duty-sponsored albums irrelevant to me, besides making my tastebuds explode. And meanwhile Drake is just the biggest rapper out, even if his older popular rapper peers (excluding Kanye and Wayne, including Macklemore) sell more records.

Drake is the president kissing babies, not the lobbyist shaking hands behind closed doors. He’s borrowing from The-Dream and Lil B, not Rick Rubin. He was the first to use Migos flow, not the last to use the Ma$e flow. He has the ability to steer whatever’s left of the monoculture and it’s easier than ever to hop aboard. Sure he occasionally overreaches with that power and verges on carpetbagging, but we elected him all the same.

Tags: 2013 Drake Kanye Year End

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