Day 184: "4422" feat. Sampha – Drake, More Life, 2017 / "Ignant Shit" feat. Lil Wayne – Drake, So Far Gone, 2009
Have you guys listened to More Life? It's… really good, right? I've been enjoying it immensely not only because it sounds incredible and gives me visions of a deep house Drake album and features some bananas Young Thug verses and makes a country where they eat beans on toast seem cool but also because it reminds me a lot of a Jay Z album. It's the Drake album that sticks the least to conventional rap sounds out of everything he's made, but it's also the project of his that most resembles a classic rap album, with all the messiness those actually included.
Pulling Giggs onto tracks reminds me of Jay reaching out to UGK for "Big Pimpin'" (although to be fair Giggs is no Pimp C), while "Glow," a collab with Drake's only real rival as rap's true A-list pop star, is a bit like Jay grabbing Eminem for "Renegade." "Do Not Disturb" functions as the same kind of self-mythologizing event statement as "Dec. 4" or "My 1st Song." Yes, I know that these examples technically span three different Jay albums, but the point is Drake has figured out how to successfully emulate the moves that once made Jay look like such a genius, and the looseness of the project feels not unlike the casual vibe that made albums like Vols. 1-3 so approachable. And I promise you that it's all intentional. This is a guy who once rapped "I never cried when 'Pac died, but I probably will when Hov does," which is itself an interpolation of a Jay Z line. And it's a guy who found his way into the rap business via Lil Wayne, who also idolized Jay.
Wayne appears ever so briefly on More Life, sparking a blunt never to return (curatorial points must be given for putting Lil Wayne on a track to introduce Sampha, the kind of global and genre-bending juxtaposition at which Drake excels). Wayne was more present on the project More Life evokes most, So Far Gone, which features two Wayne appearances and is indirectly about Wayne and Wayne's influence throughout. Perhaps you can see where this is going: Wayne first crops up on So Far Gone with Drake on a Jay Z beat.
"Ignorant Shit" is a great beat, and it's also, in its original form, a good example of head honcho and mentee together on a track, as it features Roc-a-Fella Records recording artist Beanie Sigel. Here, student and teacher are also united, and Drake drops some of his all-time greatest corny-awesome bars. Among them are: "With a canvas I'm a Group of Seven / a migraine, take two Excedrin / I'm the one twice over, I'm the new eleven"; "burn bread everyday boy, no toaster"; and "the eager beaver could be the collapse of the dam." He shouts out his hipster cred both explicitly and implicitly, comparing himself to The Cool Kids and saying "word to Chuck Inglish." He has a great line about his songs being your girl's "waking up ringer… or alarm or whatever." It's one of the strongest early Drake rap performances you'll find anywhere, if you can get past some of the face-palm-worthy punning.
And that's fitting because it's also one of my favorite Lil Wayne verses. Wayne's flow is unreal, and the first time I heard him say "I'm so high I could vomit on a comet" I honestly reconsidered why all rap before had failed me so badly in my quest for ridiculous images paired with internal rhymes. Wayne proceeds to have so much money that he can stand on it and headbutt Yao Ming, traipse around a house filled with more women than the set of noted reality show A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, and shout out his beloved Green Bay Packers. He has a line that goes, "I ain't recording, I'm just C4ing / my currency foreign; we are in a league they aren't," which oh my God what a dense sequence of words. He ends everything talking about a magic show.
The effect is that "Ignant Shit" is one of the most dizzying, fun songs on all of So Far Gone, the mixtape that put Drake on the map. Is it a coincidence that Drake's run to the top of rap (conceptually, not lyrically, IMHO) started with rapping over a Hov beat with the heir to Hov's throne? I don't know; you tell me.
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