Drake’s ‘Best’ At Its Worst

2 Jul

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From my Facebook update and Tweet immediately after seeing Drake’s new video for his (old) song “Best I Ever Had.”

From an artist stand point, I appreciate the way he built his buzz by hustling mix tapes BUT his latest interpretation of femininity at its “best” is THE worst. Cliche premise + slow moving clips + paternalistic imagery = annoying.

@MBtheREMIX and so it begins: Drake’s artistry tainted by KanWeezy, Dwayne Carter and the rest of the egos. Happens every time.

___________________

I didn’t even know who Drake was until about two weeks ago when a friend and I had a late night drink at the Cafeteria in Chelsea.  Drake walked in the trendy restaurant with about three dudes, most likely his “crew.”  When he sat down across from me I figured he was somebody because the couple sitting next to my friend and I started shifting around in their seats apparently geeked out by Drake’s presence.

I thought to myself, “Wait a minute, that dude looks familiar.”

That’s Drake. Someone whispered.

So I Googled him on my phone.  “Oh.” I said to myself.  “He’s the ‘Best I Ever Had’ guy.”  That’s Jimmy from DeGrassi (the Canadian hit show everyone seems to watch but me).

The next day I Googled Drake some more and ended up downloaded all three of his mixtapes (about 65 song in total).  I was drawn to Drake’s artistry because he has a way with words.  He can also sing (well, hold a note).  He’s got charisma (that, I guess, he acquired during his DeGrassi days).  He also seems to appreciate amalgamation, as in, he’s not afraid to fuse various styles, flows, lyrical content, melodies, into a 3 minute song.  Bending and breaking the rules in the name of creativity and perfecting sound makes this music connoisseur smile.

:-)

Drake is multi-racial, multi-talented, and multi-influenced.  If you listen to his latest mix tape, So Far Gone, you’ll hear all sorts of influences from H-Town inspired screwed “November 18th” to Euro-pop “Little Bit f/ Lykke Li.” Even other artists like JoJo can’t help but cover his songs.  Even I covered JoJo’s cover of Drake’s “Houstalantavegas.”

After listening to his music, I got excited for this breath of fresh air.  Even when I saw him at the Cafeteria I noticed he was a bit shy (also exhibited in some of his interviews).  Shyness is a good look for an up-and-coming hip hop artist.  Too many of our “artists” take the whole ego thing a bit too far these days.  Kanye.

So like everyone else, I was also excited to see the finishing product for “Best I Ever Had” – a song I really dig while running on the treadmill.

When I heard that Kanye was directing the video, I got a little scared.  There is a reason why Kanye is known best as a producer and artist and NOT a director.  It’s like that idea of wanting to be known for everything and ending up being good for nothing.

Click HERE to watch Drake’s latest video “Best I Ever Had.”

Concept-wise the video is distasteful and boring.  Scantly-clad women with big bouncy breasts, bouncing . . . balls: Could this video be anymore un-subtle?  See, the thing about art is that it can be a medium through which irony is represented in the most clever ways; it’s called creativity.  If only Drake approached ‘Best’ the way he approaches a song in the studio, maybe we’d actually have something worth watching.  Is this video offensive to woman of color? Sure it is. I think that’s obvious.

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But what’s really lame about the whole video is how Drake and Kanye completely miss the mark when trying to portray femininity at its best.  It’s like watching a 12-year-old boy try to holla at a 25-year-old woman; it’s not only pathetic, it’s criminal. Why must these brothas have to solely rely on cliche imagery and overdone premises; using body parts to sell a concept?  Why must a good song be ruined by Drake and Kanye’s seemingly ill-informed and uneducated ideas of what a woman at her best really is?

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See Common’s video Go for how to better portray sexuality in 4 minutes or less. (Incidentally, Kanye co-directed this video. Proof that Kanyeezee might actually have a clue – when he wants to).

Probably the only thing at its ‘best’ in the video is good old fashioned patriarchy.  The idea of pitting ‘types’ of women against each other in a competitive environment just to win over some dude’s (and his penis’) approval is ridiculous.  The ‘pretty in pink’ girls versus the tall ‘butch’ women in green – all of which can actually play ball but are obviously portrayed as the antithesis to beauty and femininity – is at best childish and at worst uninspiring.

Drake explains the concept of the video.

Myself, being a young man, a young single man at that, I kind of wanted to be real about the way I function with women at this current point in my life. Which is, I don’t have one woman that I call my girl. There’s different girls in my life that play different roles and I see at different times, but collectively they kind of make up the roster of happiness for me [Laughs].

He continues,

[T]he moral of the story, I guess, is win or lose, you can still be the best to somebody. When women see the video and see all the breast and ass, hopefully they don’t take offense. Hopefully they see the real meaning.

Hmm, okay so everyone wins, Drake?  Really?  Or is it just the ‘pretty in pink girls’ that really win because their the ones actually playing on your team in the first place? And as far as women playing different roles in your roster of happiness; is that really code for “the pussy, not necessarily the woman, motivates my actions as a man”?

C’mon, enough with the bull shit. Don’t we have enough gender stereotypes in popular culture and politics as it is?  We must do better.

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Sure there are those (most of my male friends) out there who love to see breastisies and butt cheeks all up in the camera.  While this might be great for the easy-to-please guy or your average misogynist, it’s not necessarily good for women of color.  And isn’t Drake’s song supposed to be an anthem/tribute to women? You can’t tell with this hot mess of a video.

And just for the record; no, most women really don’t appreciate your dicks in a box, nor do we appreciate images that imply you have authority over us.  For most women, our tits and asses would rather be appreciated intimately and not intended for some dude to jerked off to through a TV screen or computer monitor.

Like I said before; so begins the decline of a hot artist at the mercy of hip hop Egos.  Need I mention the tomfoolery that went on at the BET Awards when Drake performed with Weezy?  Now, alongside Kanye, Drake’s artistry continues to be sullied with ‘Best.’

And the reviews aren’t good.  One Tweeter said this morning about the video: “I would rather watch the movie ‘Blank Man’ in Spanish than Drake’s new video again.” Ouch.

And so, I’ll leave you with this line from Drake’s song “Successful”:

Damn, my reality just set in

And even when the Phantom’s leased them h**s wanna get in

I do a lot of things hopin’ I neva have to fit in

So tryin’ to keep up with my progress is like a dead end.

Hey Drake, so I hear you just signed a $4 million deal with Young Money.  Now that we’ve seen your BET Awards performance and your latest video for ‘Best’ – you might want to revisit your own lyrics about the reality of what it means to be successful in a game that, more often than not, requires one to surrender in the name of “fittin’ in” for fame.




4 Responses to “Drake’s ‘Best’ At Its Worst”

  1. Mike Brown the REMIX July 2, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

    There is utter brilliance laden within the “Best” video: Huge breasts get you on the team, but it sure doesn’t help you win the game.

  2. tara l. conley July 2, 2009 at 8:43 pm #

    Nah…that’s a cop out explanation because winning the game isn’t the ultimate prize; it’s Drake’s approval (as portrayed by his authoritative role) that works to motivate these woman to “win”. Again, patriarchy at its best.

  3. Leopold III July 2, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    So shall we expect a future blog post arguing for more modest dress?

    [ sorry, couldn't resist ;) ]

  4. Zack July 11, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    Pretty cool post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your posts.

    Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

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