The situation is getting to be slightly ridiculous. A couple of weeks back I described the Drake effect slowly inculcating all of music-listening America in the ways of Drizzy. But that simply didn’t go far enough. In the interim, the man who refers to himself and his close crew of associated (all born in the month) as October’s Very Own, has come to own the month in the truest sense, leaking ‘Make Me Proud’ featuring his Nicki Minaj, and racking up five million hits on YouTube in the process. Then, as some sort of sick, appropriately horrifying Halloween-timed joke, he goes and leaks another single from the forthcoming (Nov 15) ‘Take Care’, flooding airwaves already so full of him and his YMCMB kind (Wayne, Minaj et al) that they can scarcely afford to take on more of his material lest they appear to be becoming Drake FM, drakemusiconly.blogspot.com or Channel Drake. And the response? Ecstatic, rapturous uptake, an addition to a cannon already fit to burst (especially given the man is one LP deep in his career as it stands) and some more guaranteed fodder for high rotation.
Amid all of this breathless sycophantism, it would be wrong of me to try to exonerate myself from adding fuel to the raging fire of mainstream Drake passion that roars on in spite of long gaps in recording, over-used feature stars (was part of Wayne’s probation conditions being chained to Drake at the ankle?) and sometimes overly saccharine, naval-gazing themes. Instead, what I feel is something akin to what a diabetic might feel confronted with a big slab of chocolate fudge cake: I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help myself. In the purest blogging terms, so frequent a return to the same artist smacks of favouritism, of closed-mindedness and of catering exclusively to popular tastes. But Drake is different. Somehow he manages to bridge the usually entirely separate spheres of critical acclaim, mainstream buzz and technical proficiency in this needling, effortless manner. There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about his sound, his lyricism (look to T.I. if you want introspection) or his image management. And yet, whatever that intangible ‘X’ (or ‘D’) factor is – exactly that which made his feature appearances stand out all those years ago – Drake’s got it in the biggest way.
Trying to escape ‘Motto’ was always going to be a fruitless enterprise. For one, it’s hard to beat a Drake-Wayne double team nowadays for almost guaranteed quality. Perhaps more than the leaks to date (particularly ‘‘ which sounds distinctly like a ‘Thank Me Later’ hangover), ‘Motto’ is Drake doing gangster in a way that he’s never really done before. To this point, the D factor was enigmatic but at least on the sound front we could pin down a mix of laid-back rap and crooning as the likely contributors. Now ‘Motto’ comes along and blows that (elongated phrasing, soft bass, melodic cursing and inward-looking lyricism) out of the water with this (big ass bass, more minimal instrumentation than the man known for strings and underplayed synths has ever gone for before, more ego than the man known for doubting himself has ever shown before). In the Drake-Wayne combo, Drake almost inevitably ends up overshadowed as the lesser, SNAG of the two. Here, Wayne hardly gets a look in as Drake offers some of the most convincingly delivered lines of his rap career. The bass line and plastic drums are straight musical heroin. Its fantastically addictive and for that very reason, throws everything into disarray. Drake’s success seemed to stem from his nice-guy, super-sensitive, carefully balanced rap-sing persona. Suddenly the motto’s changed.
Drake – The Motto Ft. Lil Wayne