Friday, July 31, 2009

Drake Is Ethering Himself

A title fresh from my Underwriter days... Ah, memories.

Just two months ago, I was telling folks in ATL, and all the folks back home in Bama who weren't familiar, that Drake would be the next Kanye West. I might have even gone far enough to say some dumb shit like "Mark my words..."

Now, things are starting to look complicated. I mean, I still believe that for an artist to come out of nowhere and make an impact like Drake did, that definitely means that he can make this happen. In my op, the guy is very talented, and you can tell he's a thinker, which Hip-Hop could certainly use more of in the current times. So Far Gone would easily win a Grammy if there were a category for mixtapes. But then again, there isn't. So Far Gone was a freebie, so it's not like it should be called his "magnum opus". I mean, your greatest work of art should be something from which you should be able to capitalize, right?

Well, maybe not. In this digital age of music and life, we're used to getting everything for free. Barry Diller of Jive Records said something not too long ago about how free content online is "a myth", but sometimes myths are really true, and only the people denying them don't realize it. But at least, in Drake's case, he was able to gain heavy recognition, and radio rotation, from something that was never meant to be profitable, at least in mythological theory. But we all know recording artists don't recoup a squirt of urine from album sales anyway, at least not when they aren't already internationally known.

So here's my problem with the way Drake is handling his incredible reception and coronation in the music industry. The dude is just effing up. And too much of that will kill your buzz, especially if you can still be legitimately called a "mixtape rapper" at the moment. And image is important; I can respect the way he's shown humility when being interviewed, given the circumstances. But I'm not one of those dudes mentioned on "Best I Ever Had" that would buy a blank disc from him, or anyone else. Truth be told, I haven't bought an album, a single, a mixtape, or a ringtone in years, and I think I have a pretty solid catalog of music, completely updated for modern times. The only way I'm buying Drake's debut album is if I can hear enough material to know it's going to be a classic, and that really only takes two strong singles at this point to make me put my money down. He can do that.

But can he keep from killing his buzz, which recently he seems set on doing? Let us count the ways:

1. Drake apologizes for the BET Awards fiasco.

Yeah, he sat on stage, allegedly with a torn ACL, and shares the stage with the rest of the Young Money crew, including Lil' Wayne, performing "Every Girl" with a harem of B.B.D. chicks. Oh, you ain't know? See 2:04. But I believe that this was Wayne's call, since his own daughter was among the dancers. This was a just a Joe Jackson-like move to use the media to promote your next big thing, and lest we forget, Carter's the boss. Not your fault, Drake. But then...

2. Drake effs up his Funk Flex Hot 97 debut.

I didn't know anything about this until ol' dude from the Nick Cannon MTV show made a parody YouTube video about it. Once I saw the original video footage of Drake fumbling through old and new lyrics on his BlackBerry, then asking if he can get a re-do, I realized that this was some ol' Nike-Lebron dunked-on steez that someone made a serious effort not to have released. But we know how that goes in the age of Web 2.0... Hey, it was his first time on a Hot 97, and I can't imagine all the pressure he was feeling; this one is understandable. No big deal. (getting concerned though)

3. Drake apologizes for his video.

I can't say I immediately understood the video for "Best", but I could detect where he was going. The problem was that all the boobage shown in the video (which was great) trumped any other point he might have been trying to make. Yeah, I get it; you have a team of big breasted women, but you lose when you try to manage all of them at once, even though they're individually great. Hip-Hop isn't a Mormon compound. But that took more thought that I wanted to spend. And the last thing I want you doing is saying I'm sorry again. Just let it ride! (getting nervous now...)

4. Drake falls on stage.

At this point, it's like, "Jesus, homie!! Besides the music, what else can go right? Now if he really hurt himself, I don't want to sound too negative here, of course. But the reality of this situation is that you have no business jumping around monitor speakers on stage if your doctor has advised you to take it easy on your torn ACL. Seriously, there's a such thing as gambling, but it's not something to be done with your health, especially when your physical ability to perform [II] is part of your ability to gain income and financial rewards. And ankles shouldn't be confused with dice.

I'm just saying we don't need a fifth item update for this post anytime soon; that way it won't even count. I wish him a quick recovery, so he can get back in the studio and make that album, and put things on the right track again. I'm still a fan, but I need this self-slaughter to stop immediately.

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