Drake gets it, and you, which is precisely why Drake is never going anywhere. Take this recent Instagram update, which is proof positive — his eyes are closed in thought, or anguish; his weight is shifted onto his back foot, allowing the light to catch the 3M tape on his windbreaker just so, which, against the palms on the wallpaper, makes for pretty good composition. Plus, he sticks the caption: “Hey what’s it like being a Jewish rapper from Canada…I told her the struggle Israel.” It’s embarrassing, but it’s also well constructed, just the right amount of self-deprecating, bizarre, and familiar at the same time. It’s funny, too, in that it combines references in a way that surprises. See? Drake gets it.
On Friday evening he released a new single, “Nice for What,” and I cannot imagine it not going no. 1. I heard it for the first time in the most ideal setting, as Drake intended: at least one drink in, at full volume in a car with friends, on our merry way to spend money on more stuff we didn’t need. There was already plenty to love about “Nice for What”: Big Freedia’s booming voice anchoring the track; the fact that it samples what is objectively the best part of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor”; and that the song, like Webbie’s “Independent,” makes googly eyes at self-sufficient women from across the dance floor. “Nice for What” is also weightless, but pounding, and vitally participatory, like a bounce song is supposed to be. Did I mention this was a bounce song? That opens with the words: “Everybody get ya muhfuckin’ roll on”? I gave it about 45 seconds before I decided it was the best Drake song I’d ever heard. More lyrics:
You’ve been inside, know you like to lay low
I’ve been peepin’ what you 8 to the table
Drake not only knows you have value, he’s known it all along, before anyone else noticed it. His intentions are still egocentric, but you’d be loath to point that out, because “Nice for What” is uplifting and a genuinely great time. On the other hand, there is this tweet, which is also well-constructed, piercing, and funny in that it’s pretty much true:
Drake could be like “head shoulder knees and toes I could never wife these hoes” and twitter would be like pic.twitter.com/IyhYsOlkQi— & (@auntieann98) March 21, 2018
Drake has reached inevitability. I have no doubt that over the right production, the fictive Drake song that autieann98 jokes about above would eventually find smashing commercial success and then ubiquity. Take “God’s Plan” for instance, on which he pouts out the words “I only love my bed and my momma, I’m sorry.” Which is not even C-minus material on its own, but gets elevated to “perfect” by a timely downbeat and well, Drake being dead-set on amusing you to death.
“God’s Plan” is a bop, but there are, without looking, 5,000 other Drake songs exactly like it. It was one of two songs on Scary Hours, released in mid-January — a forget-me-not, since Drake had been on sabbatical since More Life. You’ve already seen the music video, which you are powerless against, regardless of how determined you are to be put off by it.
I say all of this because, three days late, I finally saw Jourdan Dunn riding a horse, and I can’t argue with that either. For Drake’s very timely “Nice for What” visual, his second (after “God’s Plan”) helmed by 22-year-old Karena Evans, he assembled a plurality of Women Doing the Damn Thing: ballet dancer Misty Copeland, Insecure’s Issa Rae, comedian Tiffany Haddish, and actresses Letitia Wright, Yara Shahidi, Rashida Jones, Tracee Ellis Ross, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, and Olivia Wilde. As with anything Drake, you can peel back the feel-good vibes to reveal the circuitry underneath — how could something like this not play well in the thick of the #MeToo moment? Taken together with “God’s Plan,” is there some sin he’s trying to absolve himself of? Is any of this cynicism well-founded? Not really. Drake is doing as superstars do, which is capture our interests and causes and sell them back to us. That sounds shady, but I don’t think it is.
In any case, it would have been cool to see Big Freedia in this video and to hear Lil Wayne on the song. Then, Wayne would be the ideal remix candidate for prolonging the life of “Nice for What” on the charts. You can’t say Drake doesn’t cover all the bases.