Photo by Jake Kivanç
As redundant a phrase as it is to say now, 2010 was the year of Drake. His hype had hit its fever pitch with a host of memorable singles and verses, frequently utilizing the then popular stop-pause flow that gave us gems like “I race for your love/ Shake ’n Bake Ricky Bobby.” The way we consumed music was a lot different, too. Music blogs, forums were shameless in sharing leaked songs and hosting downloads with little fear nor care of the cease and desist and DMCA takedowns that now aggressively sweep and erase links seconds after being posted. We’d also see the continued rise of the unreleased song or demo appearing on the web seemingly out of nowhere, without context to be consumed. And during the final days leading up to hotly anticipated debut Thank Me Later—although many of us had heard it weeks prior, including one Joe Budden—an unmastered version of “You Know, You Know” found its way on every major hip-hop site. And now, eight years later resurfaces in all its mastered glory courtesy of Drake.
Reportedly a leftover from Drake’s debut, the Kanye West produced “You Know” features arpeggiated synths along with his characteristic use of a pitched up sample underneath. The tracks would also mark the last public collaboration between the two (The horrendous “Best I Ever Had” video and “Find Your Love” complete the trinity) before their four-year cold war of sorts. Suffice to say, a lot has changed in eight years and while the song in some ways feels dated, it also presents the stems that have made Drake to who he is. A questionable “freestyle” that seemingly predates the track. His penchant for frequent name-dropping of athletes (LeBron is name-dropped two times here) and of course his love for fine foods and wining and dining. It’s a wet behind the ears Drake who is excited at his potential before he’d be a subject of tired discussions from emo-rapper to platinum selling antagonist or the memefication of his career.
Every rapper is capable of self-mythology through lyrics but it’s the great ones that ostensibly turn shallow boasts into reality. In a career full of seemingly disastrous scandals that would upend the career of most musicians—far less rappers—it’s funny to hear a starry-eyed Drake boast a line like “And I bet you I be out of time before I'm out of luck” and not note the self-fulfilling prophecy in it all—how he rather uniquely turns what should be a death blow and propels himself into even more success. Yet, just as quickly mentions in the next line “They ain't rootin' for me, they ain't clappin' for me I'm only sayin' can somebody just be happy for me.” “You Know, You Know” might not be the best song in Drake’s catalogue or even one anyone had vested interest in hearing again but it serves as an unexpected time capsule of Mr. Drake; where his current status as a global pop monolith was perhaps an ambition only known to him. “I really hate to say I told you so” he says in his closer, “So I bite my tongue but you know you know.”
Jabbari Weekes is the Noisey Canada Editor. Follow him on Twitter