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2 July, 2010@4:23 am

With all of the controversy surrounding our review of Thank Me Later, it’s sparked a pretty heated debate on the site as to why hip-hop fans love or hate Drake. While everyone has their own opinion on the subject, reader Kevin Criss wrote in with an interesting perspective that really hasn’t been touched upon. Not to say that what Kevin is saying in the passage below is the exact reason for how people perceive Drake, but his opinion was interesting enough to repost here on the site. With that, we pass the mic to Kevin. Read on….. – DJ Pizzo

I’ve lived long and through enough to realize that love and hate aren’t opposites. Essentially, they are the same emotion, though fueled and inspired in different ways. Think of it in a physics sort of way, with equal and opposite reactions, the physics of love, per se. To whatever degree someone loves you, they are capable of equally and in an opposite fashion, hating you. In lame man’s hip hop terms, it is the same emotion that enabled Beanie Sigel’s love for Jay-Z 10 years ago that drives his hate now. Apathy would be not caring.

And for the untold amount of Drake haters, you would think that the appropriate emotion they would feel towards him and his craft would be apathy. Common sense would say that if you try something and it doesn’t appeal to any of your sensibilities on any level, you take it as a lesson learned and move on. Imagine a Baltimore day where Levy recommends polka music to Avon Barksdale, for which Avon tries it, hates it and proceeds to visit every message board on every polka related website to disparage polka music in not the most flattering racial homophobic and emasculating of terms.

In fairness to those who propagate message boards, it is the modern modus operandi of anyone who gives a critique or opinion of any sort to not just say why they hate or love something but to insist that whoever receives that advice that you share their views as well. It isn’t enough for a critic to think Soulja Boy is killing hip hop, but to him no one should embrace, like or support Soulja regardless if his music and style appeals to and relates to a fan’s life or experience. That undertone is felt in a vast majority of Drake message board comments and water cooler hate. But it goes deeper…

Drake represents more than just a good rapper and a versatile artistic talent. Whether you were a fan of Kwame and Heavy D 20 years ago or a Lil’ Wayne or Little Brother enthusiasts, one cannot deny Drake’s talent for wordplay and melody, nor his camera presence and charisma. That, coupled with the money, fame and women, would be more than enough for haters to get busy, a la Kanye West who lives and works with the same benefits. But why does hate for Drake go deeper.

Mr. Graham, to state it bluntly, represents the bulk of insecurities blacks in America have had, currently have and will have. Drake taps into our pre-occupation with skin tone, being light skinned and half white. He is perceived to have come from money (most blacks problems derive from money or rather lack thereof) and a rich safe suburb of already a culturally safe and varied locale (he wasn’t raised in the projects, roaches and rats…etc). And it obvious that he has been afforded many opportunities that most blacks just don’t get, be it being a child actor all the way up to being drafted by Weezy F. Baby. In my opinion those are the underlying reasons why to many hate Drake.

That isn’t to say that Drake isn’t one above criticizing. As one with legitimate talents as an actor and singer, tasks most rappers struggle to master, maybe he has failed to capitalize upon an ability to cross over Will Smith style. Fresh Prince and his 3 million fans turned into the foundation for a hit television show; 10s of millions of Bel Air fans turned into monster first weekend box office numbers; once with an album ready for capitalize on such a huge fan base, 1997’s Big Willie Style did big willie numbers. Why be the best rapper in the game, who can sing and act and has sincere crossover ability to expand a fan base like no rapper before if one’s team decides to give you the same game plan as Lil’ Wayne.

I must admit that I related to Drake partly because that the hate he experiences now, I have lived all my 27 years of life. Being from the south where the legacy of slavery and race issues are still prevalent, being a well spoken black guy who dressed well seem to translate into a gay nigga who wanted to be white; although just like drake, they couldn’t point to anything I’ve done that they wouldn’t have done, in terms of taking advantages of opportunities that were afforded to me or my level of integrity for which I exemplified in doing so.

But as I understand how love and hate coincide, I also understand we are the sum of our experiences, acting in a domino effect kind of way that makes what we do, how we act and more importantly what and whom we like predictable. You grow up around black women, you more than likely will gravitate to them all of your life, for example. But at what age does one become capable, if at all, of stopping the predictability of one’s decisions.

Years ago, I decided to take the chance and see and understand why Stevie Wonder was, well…Stevie Wonder. My brother had all his classic CDs from the 70s and I copied them all, immediately falling for his songwriting and musicianship, for which he is arguably the greatest of all time at. (Yes, my black experience would enable me to say that, versus, lets say Paul McCartney). Fulfillingness’ First Finale excited me just as much as Life After Death or Liquid Swords.

Point is, despite whatever I was into, I was able to pivot and enrich my music going experience. And to me, that is the most important question that comes out of the Drake hatred: what should be a musical experience and how should it be defined? Does anything that should be determined to be of quality reflect our collective insecurities?

My opinion shouldn’t matter. Because I like Drake doesn’t mean anyone else should or shouldn’t. I don’t believe in dictatorial ways of operating. Freedom of choice comes from sharing and empowering others with your experience and without pressure allowing them to make and choose their minds.

But equally as my opinion doesn’t matter, any and all who make opinions and critiques shouldn’t do so as if within a vacuum where that pretext and context related to what shapes your thoughts doesn’t matter. (Using worst example) If Drake or Kanye is a “bitch ass faggot ass nigga for singing or being emotional”, then what is just as important is what you went through, or learned or perceived that would allow you to form that opinion matters just as much, if not more than them being “bitch ass…etc”

This is a new age, and I completely understand that. Puffy signed to Interscope and at 40 plus lip syncs at an award to show. That isn’t a diss, rather it’s true. I get why he does it, to keep his brand relevant to where he can pump vodka and clothes. But it shows anything can happen and isn’t immune from happening. I can only hope some of the collective attitudes we share can evolve to where an intelligent well rounded discussions can rule the day.

Me: Yo, you heard that Drake Thank Me Later?

Friend with benefits: Yeah, it’s alright…I just can’t understand why the best rapper got to be half white.

Me: Who cares? I really think he is saying something on this…..

FWB: THE NIGGA IS HALF WHITE! Plus have you seen his eyebrows?

Me: What? Now you are being picky.

FWB: He aint have a lollipop and I don’t think he eat pussy. Plus he singing soft……..

  Mixtape D.L.
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