This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.
I don’t know how we never saw it coming. Drake’s “Energy” samples a pivotal moment from the season two finale of The OC. Of course it does. Those piano chords, they were right there. How did we miss this? The story of a sentimental bad boy trying to keep it real in the face of adversity? Drake is basically the rap personification of The OC.
Let's muse for a while on this, because it’s not hard to imagine a Drake that loves The OC—hooked ever since a girlfriend he ghosted recommended it. “A troubled young man makes waves in a wealthy, harbor-front community”—that’s right down The Boy's street. You can see him developing a strong bond with the show’s characters. Growing with them, laughing with them, loving with them. When Seth Cohen and Summer Roberts had their first kiss on the roof in the rain, there's no doubt Drake felt warm and inspired. When the gang started to hang out and watch bands at The Bait Shop, he created a private Spotify playlist of all the life-affirming songs he’d heard on the OST. He sympathized with Luke, saw a father in Sandy, and a bit of himself in Ryan.
So lets meditate on exactly how Season 2 of The OC could have affected Drake. You can see him skipping around the house singing, “CALIFORNIAAAAAAA. CALIFORNYUUUUUUUUUUH. HERE WE CUUUUUUUU-UM. OOOOOOWOAH oh”, then pressing play so he can sing along to the theme tune all over again, with a big grin on his face, bobbing up and down like a baby seal. You can see him troubled, in the kitchen, pouring himself a bag of nachos, concerned about Kristen Cohen slipping deeper into the trappings of alcohol, Seth dating a lesbian, and some basic bitch called Lindsay who turned up to rock the central cast's core. Search close, and you can feel him pining for Anna to return from Pittsburgh.
With all these things on his mind, Drake would have needed someone to talk to. Another fan who wanted to discuss the structure of the Cooper-Cohen family and how Marissa and Ryan were practically step-cousins. Or how Ryan also dated his aunt. But who could Drake talk to? He couldn’t talk to OB Brian about this, nor could he talk to 40. They just wouldn’t understand. He needed someone else. Let's imagine him opening his inbox to search for the girl he ghosted a few months earlier. As he slides through the folder, names start to jump out—Jay Z, Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, Diddy. These are people who wronged him, and he snaps his phone shut in disgust, not wanting to think about the bad times while he was in his happy place. Besides, at this point, episode 24 of season two was about to begin—which, if you remember, was particularly poignant, especially the key and culminating scene which Drake sampled in "Energy." The scene in which Marissa shoots Trey in front of Ryan.
In some ways, Trey and Ryan’s relationship is not too dissimilar to Drake and Kendrick Lamar’s current arrangement, is it? Brothers at first, enemies later. It’s not a stretch to see Aubrey considering that, in fact, he too had rather a lot of enemies. Subconsciously replaying it in his head over and over again—“I’ve got a lot of enemies, got a lot of enemies.” Now holding his head in his hands, a bad dream, the words repeating in his mind. Now saying them out loud, not sure whether it was the mass grief he was experiencing from a series finale and the near-death of a cast member, or his own personal situation, but the words sounded good. Rolled off the tongue. He keeps repeating, forming a flow. In Seth, he found solace in similar labours of love. “I, too, got girls in real life tryna fuck up my day,” he thought, “I, too, got an ex girl who’s the female version of me.” In Caleb, he found someone he could relate to on a baller level. “I, too, got two mortgages thirty million in total,” he breathes. He watched the Cooper’s making terrible financial decisions, and he learned from them: “I keep buying shit: just make sure you keep track of it all.”
I have no doubt that Drake went to the studio that night and still, the words were revolving around his brain. And so was the scene from The OC. In fact, he just had to search for it on YouTube (something he would continue doing for months) to watch it over and over in the studio. Eventually, after becoming so accustomed to the clip from The OC that he could hear the piano in the scene’s intro, he wrote this.
“Lickwood means rewind, gunshot means forward.”
Or maybe he didn't. As the track's producer Boi 1Da told Noisey Canada earlier this week, the piano riff is pure coincidence.
You can find Ryan Bassil on Twitter.