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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……..

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41 Responses to "Hate Me Later"
  • Rob says:

    I like Drake’s album. A 5@ review is a little much, but I listened to the album today and I’d give it a high 4. Hiphopsite gave it a 5 and hiphopdx gave it 2.5. 2.5 is more ridiculous than a 5 from hiphopsite. Over is a dope song. He’s been overhyped, but is that his fault. Remember this is his first album. He seems like the kind of artist that will get better and better. As far as him being from Canada and light skinned, I really don’t know if that is a issue. It isn’t with me, but maybe it is an issue for some people.

  • A says:

    Drake is aiight. I was at the homie house. This girl was there listening to her headphones. I asked to listen, it was Drake(before he was even out barely)it was dope. Nothing groundbreaking, just cool, aiight.

    Some people want to say he’s the best. He still a new artist.
    Eminem just put out a new album. Not only is Em just better, Em is focused on skills(HIPHOP), Drake seems like some RNB party type rapper. Eminem has paid dues, Drake is still new.

    When Chris Brown came out, some people wanted to compare him to Usher, but Chris Brown hadn’t even paid dues.

    When Nikki Minaj came out, you hear the comparisons as well, but Nikki Minaj is still new and hasn’t paid dues.

    Real hiphopers need to stop feeling threatened by these new dudes(GZA/SoldierBoy).

    If a rapper that the underground respected later gets recognized in the mainstream, some people(underground) might probably label him a sell out.

    Don’t hate the Rapper, hate the marketing.

    The fact that Kevin brought up race in the article and Drake as representing-
    ” 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.”
    Is a low-key funnystyle thing to say when the best rapper might be 100% white(Eminem). Kevin should give a little more credit to A.American males who are really beyond that stuff.(it’s 2010)

    It looks like he tried to quote a blog at the end of the article

  • killthenoise says:

    Listen man there is a standard in which has been set. The question you have to ask yourself is does this material have the credentials to be measured against that standard.

    So when i heard Rakim rhyme (the standard of excellence) I am suppose to say drake is on par. So you are telling me that I should stop using electricity and start using candles. I should stop using calculators and use my toes and feet.

    I am sorry if you are confused. I know what sounds good and I know what sounds like garbage. Sorry if you forgot that is not my problem. Just don’t forget the people who come to this site man. Cause there is a reason why there is no comments on rick ross video postings or drake bullshit. Nobody that comes to this site what to see this shit.

  • RM 3K says:

    The reason that I brought up booty shaking music (which obviously includes Rump Shaker) is that it was very much a product of the so-called “golden era,” but very much the anti-thesis of east coast boom bap and west coast gangsta ish. People look back at that era with rose colored glasses as though all music was Gang Starr and EPMD. It wasn’t.

    Nothing has changed. Tag Team/EPMD in 1992 = Drake/Sean P in 2010. The only difference, as I have maintained for my 3rd post now, is that EPMD was on the radio back in 1992 and Sean P isn’t coming anywhere near it in 2010.

  • Lee says:

    Pizzo: Thanks for the comments, I’ve been reading this site for years and years and have always looked to you guys for reviews. Metacritic and other review sources are filled with critics who don’t “get” the artform, but you guys are always spot-on. You are true heads. Even if I disagree with the grade ratings from time to time, the reviews are well-written enough to tell me that, for example, I will like this album more than they did, because I am into reggae (Nas & Damian Marley – Distant Relatives). I thought my response might have too much vinegar in it to even make it past moderation, let alone get a reply from the staff, but I was pretty fired up about the whole topic. I hate when people stifle and limit rap music. I wonder how many amazing albums or artists have simply fallen by the wayside because the industry refused to take a chance on it? Rock doesn’t have that problem. Hip hop needs to grow, and I feel Drake is an agent of that change.

    Underground Heads: Hey, I listen to all the boom-bap old-school shit too. I love Apathy – Eastern Philosophy and Raekwon – OBFCL2, which also both got 5 stars on here, deservedly.

    I just think it’s incredible when people insist that ALL RAP should sound like that. If you don’t like Drake, fine, don’t like him… but why hate him? There will always be plenty of guys still trying to crank out DJ Premier beats and rap like Big L. Your precious marginalized style of rap music will always be around.

    Drake’s album doesn’t threaten the existence of that kind of hip-hop, so don’t fear it. It merely offers another facet of rap music that can be enjoyed by a more diverse group of people.

    For years people have been saying “hip hop is dead”, and it’s precisely because it’s so marginalized and fits easily into one of a few categories (backpack rap, gangsta rap, pop rap) that the artform is so limited and becomes so stale.

    I love the classics… all the usual Wu, Biggie, Nas, Tribe, Pac, De La, Roots, Dre, Snoop, KRS, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Ice, even contemporary classics like Binary Star, Apathy is one of my top 5 favorite MCs, Louis Logic, Blu & Exile and Black Milk have been among my favorite hip hop albums in years… but liking Apathy and liking Drake are NOT mutually exclusive.

    I find that a lot of rap fans ONLY listen to rap music. That tells me that it’s more about the image to them, or at the very least they are not open-minded enough to try on some rock, reggae, R&B, soul, electronica, etc. They are not “music heads” they “listen to rap”. Drake’s album incorporates a lot of music that doesn’t sound like the norm for rap music and it scares a lot of people. I guess the problem is people’s expectations. They know what a typical 5/5 sounds like here, and Drake doesn’t really fit that mold.

    The reason I point this out is because I feel like there are “Music Fans” who picked up Drake’s album and loved it, and “Hip Hop Heads” who picked it up and hated it. If you are only a fan of “hip hop” it means you’ve only heard what’s out there, and that’s what you like… Drake’s album isn’t LIKE what is out there, so it will be totally foreign and unfamiliar to you. It just wasn’t what you were expecting, that’s all.

    Drake isn’t the best MC out there, but I laugh at the haters saying “he sucks” or anything like that. He is like Kanye in a lot of ways. Not the best, but he has his own style, his own views, and he expresses them well. His flow and delivery are great for what he is doing. He’s like a Lil Wayne that says things I actually care about.

    As a parting sentiment, I have to wonder how many of the people complaining actually paid for the album anyway. Record sales show that most of you just Torrented it, so you have no right to complain.

    As a Canadian hip hop fan, I’m glad a Canadian MC is finally getting some real shine, and better yet he isn’t just some carbon-copy who happens to be from Canada. He is different. Props to Drake and props to HHS for recognizing his talent, even if it alienates some fickle “rap fans” who like their music safe and pre-packaged.

    Thanks for the mention Pizzo, glad someone is reading.

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