When It Comes To Drake, Let's Just Call A Spade A Spade

When It Comes To Drake, Let's Just Call A Spade A Spade

Drake attacking Kid Cudi was a step back for Black men embracing mental health awareness.

Published October 25th

Bad timing, Aubrey.

For real.

This was supposed to be our moment of reckoning, and of healing. You trampled on it. With your misguided jabs at Kid Cudi. With your constant needling of listeners.

Drake begs us for sympathy with every note, lashes out at lost lovers. He’s a picture of resentment disguised as regret. But then he pokes at the weakest, and mocks them even though he’s already won.

Aubrey “Drake” Graham is a bully. Textbook. 

Just when a lot of Black men were stepping up in public to show a vulnerable side, to know uneasy feelings instead of detaching from life, Drake, a legend, said “Nah.” Which is a huge problem.

Drake is an icon of hip-hop and modern culture. His expression and his output are amazing feats of mastery, and singular proof that his ethic and skill won’t be fully admired until he’s left us. With Kanye’s example, Drake shifted what it meant to be popular and strong within what was previously a very narrow, masculine framework. Bottom line, he wasn’t afraid to cry. To plead. To emote. Drake made emo rap a viable thing.

For most men, trust, this was a difficult transition. We are used to hiding our emotions or ignoring that they exist at all. So hearing a dude like Drake on the radio all day was like this affront to everything we’d been taught. ‘Drake soft!’ was a mantra that not only enabled immediate dismissal of his feelings, it justified the constant dismissal of our own. We men. We not supposed to do that.

And still, Drizzy could pull off the sad-boy act to the tune of hundreds of songs, scores of hits among them. All the while, his true traits peeked through enough for us to wonder where the charm ended and the guile began. His exes sued him for using their names. That’s fair because he was picking on them, using their civilian private identities as material for his largely public life. It was a low blow, some serious f*ckboy behavior, and we let it slide because, well, Drake’s emotional. He’s liable to do some unforgivable things and he’s told us so, right?

Drake has moved an entire genre, at least aesthetically, to the left. The queer, gender-bending look of Young Thug is as popular in rap as the sung hook (crying out either for money or for the homies). Yet Drake’s inauthentic attempts to deal with stunted emotions and insecurities are also reflected in the music, and his constant derision of women is right at the ceiling of rap’s maturity and his own.

But we men ain’t s**t either. We take few risks to receive information about how our detachment and hostility hurts others. That cool distance hurts the men and women – and boys and girls – around us, when we’re at once demanding all of their loyalty and attention, but refusing to give our own. The mental health of Black people will rely on currently rigid, stone-hearted men to produce and reciprocate this empathy. That will take work.

We have to collectively denounce trauma/white nonsense/police fuckery/workplace bias/job loss/family disputes with every bit of strength we’re given. His model of denying and distorting his emotions won’t get anyone far.

Somehow though, Drake remains a paragon of what’s relevant. Both in music and elsewhere. If Drake isn’t the wave, he’s finding it so he can ride it. No wave goes un-surfed with Mr. Graham near. Guess the Mental Health Sympathy wave crested and crashed without him. 

Ironic. 

That the poster child for spilling your feelings went into “ON SIGHT” mode after a Twitter rant from another emo artist, cut from the same terrycloth.

Drake has turned heel on us, revealing that his “petty” could dive a thousand oceans and still be deeper than that. He’s been too concerned with his king-making agenda to realize that he’s losing fans with this tough-guy pose.

In the words of the rules that so shackle us, “Not cool, bro.” Man up and cry it out for once, Drake. Not just crocodile tears like in the memes either. Real, watery tears, bro. Mans can’t talk being emo in the music but have no recourse for mans emotions IRL.

Right now, we need courage about mental health, not more confessions, frankly, and certainly not more fake friends like Aubrey. Kid Cudi needs to account for the insults he directed at Drake, even with his mental health reeling, because reconciling emotional conflict and career alliances is part of building strong mental composition. Drake, by a similar measure, needs to learn to let go, period. Not just mask his true emotions with hollow apologies and subliminal name-calling. Or else he won’t just have alienated Rihanna and Nicki and Bria and Alexis...we’ll be gone too.

Written by Andrew Ricketts

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