I keep telling myself that I should have listened to Drake’s new album Honestly, Nevermind by now. It’s been a month, the reviews have made their rounds and pop culture conversation has chewed it up and spat it out. Being a lover and listener of music, even to artists I don’t necessarily like, usually I would have been streaming it the day of. Other friends attuned to music had scoured through the 14-song tracklist, so why hadn’t I?
That’s when I had a realisation: Drake gives me the ick. I’m sick of him. I’m sick of his shit. Sure, I like some of his music, but he annoys me. Inexplicably annoys me. But why?
The ick comes in many shapes and sizes, but usually refers to that feeling of being instantly turned off when someone does something that disgusts/ irritates/ agitates you. Like, they talk in a baby voice or wipe their nose on the back of their hand.
Sometimes, though, it’s hard to pinpoint what, exactly, it is about someone that musters that strong, odorful stench of dissatisfaction that makes you want to avoid them forever.
While many won’t agree – though I’m assuming that a lot of other people will – I wanted to get to the bottom of it.
The first time I remember feeling some kind of way towards Drake was when I was researching Jorja Smith for an upcoming article. Innocently, I stumbled across an (alleged) relationship between the two. She was 19-years-old and he was 30. While the pair apparently broke it off, fans speculated that the lyrics of Drake’s track “Jaded”, on his 2018 album, Scorpion, pointed to their love affair: We coulda waited, I wasn’t rushin’ differences in ages/ You’re old enough, but you’re still a baby. Uh… yeah.
While I’m not saying that people of legal age can’t date if both parties are consenting, that wording is…questionable. Right? Speaking of talking to teenagers, Drake also received some flack a few years ago when both pop-star Billie Eillish and Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown revealed in interviews that Drake texted them while both under the age of 18. Again, there’s nothing wrong with a mentoring relationship that defies age but, again, why?
There’s also this Drake alpha-bro mentality, manifesting itself in the form of “beef” with other rappers. At its best, the whole drama is tiring and surface-level, devoid of any real depth. His latest, with Kanye, is the personification of a yawn and I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t all fake.
From them both dating Amber Rose, to both looking to take the crown in the “rap game,” to their on and off love / hate relationship that finally came to a head when intermediary J Prince forced them both to apologise to each other, it seemed like a weak and docile attempt at a Biggie/ Tupac “beef”. It was like a playground scrap that resulted in bruised egos more than anything else.
Then there was the beef with Meek Mill for ghostwriting allegations, Tyga for dating Kylie Jenner, and a back and forth between Pusha T where the rapper subsequently outed Drake for having a secret son.
When I saw the video of him with Wiz Khalifa bum-puffing a joint on stage in 2014 (which garnered an article titled “Does Drake Even Know How To Smoke Weed?” – It doesn’t look like he does by the way) there then came the launching of his weed company More Life Growth in 2019 - a little too late, I’d say. Need I say more?
Then there was that unfortunate Variety interview where his Dad tried to defend R. Kelly. Yes, R. Kelly.
“I hate that it’s happening to him. There’s a reason why women come out after the fact. He has my support 100 percent,” Drake Senior said in the cursed interview.
This is not a new phenomenon. I’m not the only one. At the 2018 VMAs, le goddess, Rihanna, infamously stood on stage as Drake professed his love to her. Sigh.
“She’s someone I’ve been in love with since I was 22-years old. She’s one of my best friends in the world. All of my adult life I’ve looked up to her even though she’s younger than me. She’s a living breathing legend in our industry,” Drake chimed, presenting her award.
"Waiting through that speech was probably the most uncomfortable part. I don't like too many compliments; I don't like to be put on blast,” Rihanna said in a 2018 Vogue interview where they describe her as “wincing” when they mention Drake’s name.
"We don't have a friendship now, but we're not enemies either. It is what it is."
Then, after that, Drake unfollowed Rihanna on Instagram. Imagine giving Rihanna the ick.
The solidification of said ick in culture – when we could actually see it play out before our very eyes – was when Drake got booed on stage at Tyler The Creator’s Camp Flog Gnaw Music Festival. To be fair, and in my personal opinion, he really only got booed off thanks to the rumour that Frank Ocean was set to be the surprise headliner rather than Drake – fans were just disappointed – but I guess a boo is still a boo.
“Sorry Drake: You’re Not Cool Anymore,” read the reactive title from NME a week later.
“Once the vulnerable man who taught us about love and heartache, he’s now a moping mess. I understand everyone goes through heartache, but I don’t want to hear Drake cry over the same Susan for the next 10 years,” wrote Kyann-Sian Williams. Harsh, but it looked like Williams had the ick too.
The Washington Post wrote, “Drake Was Booed at a Music Festival Because He’s Drake.”
“Authenticity, an unofficial tenet of hip-hop since its early days, has always been a question when it comes to Drake,” Bethonie Butler said.
Now, if you’re looking for a more in-depth and balanced review of why Drake became a “clowned rapper” – as the celebrated platform HipHopMadness put it – look no further than their Youtube video “Why doesn’t hip hop respect Drake?”
“Undeniably, Drake is one of hip-hop's biggest game changers ever and has a good chance of becoming a bestselling hip-hop artist of all time,” narrator, Pro, says.
“But despite his big status, the shift in the masses from celebrating Drake to hating on Drake was quick and intense.”
They credit the 2016 album VIEWS as the turning point. It took him out of the rap GOAT game and into the pop charts. Rather than appraising rap fans, he looked for global popularity on the billboards.
While aiming for global success in and of itself is probably a smart move on Drake’s behalf, there’s an element of ick that comes with commercialisation. His single, “Toosie Slide”, sings the directions to a TikTok dance for God’s sake. The man’s 35-years-old.
In the end, I know people that love Drake. Figures like Tyler, The Creator, Kehlani, even Joe Budden (an apparent arch nemesis now) have voiced their respect for him. He gets millions upon millions of streams on every single track and isn’t going anywhere soon. As one incredibly accurate comment on the HipHopMadness video pointed out: “Drake is like McDonald's. Some people love him, but there's something on the menu for everyone.”
Drake is indeed that worldwide phenomenon of sugary sweet delicacy, making him and his music digestible. But still… he just doesn’t do it for me.
He’s like a clingy boyfriend I will never escape. The ick is strong and, potentially, permanent.