He’s bigger than the game he plays. We hear his music so often, that it’s grown on us now. Along the same line, Drake’s technique often gets overlooked, and people tend to forget what made him a superstar. When the rapper first started out in the world of hip hop after giving his best teen years to Canadian drama series, Degrassi, Drake was all about full form front-to-back just songs, pages and pages of lyrics and ideas, which is what must have cemented the foundation of a spectacular rap career that was lying ahead him.
But heaving aside his record-breaking reign as a rapper, there’s always something that makes an artist, unique. Drake stood out for a multitude of reasons. One thing people tend to forget, or even ignore is the creativity of Drake’s flow. Pick any song from any of his projects, and you’re bound to hear the lyrical execution change up more than once or twice, even in the most repetitive millennial whoops.
In an interview in 2012, with The Jewish Chronicle, Drizzy boasted that he “would deem himself the first person to successfully rap and sing.” And I don’t disagree. The transition between soulful warbling and hardline raps is seamless within Drake’s discography, and that’s why every song sounds like Drake, featuring Drake. Here’s Drake mumble rapping whilst strobe lights, fire and club scenes.
You could argue that Drake spearheaded a melodic movement that’s still going strong today. His contribution to hip-hop is debatable as Drake built upon conversational and comfortable cadence as a key strength and transformed melodic rap into something more enduring. And that makes a lot of sense. The listener is never taken back when Drake sings. We don’t dread that portion of the song, the same way some of us do when Eminem does it. Take for example, Hotline Bling (where all the memes began)!
In fact, he does the opposite of machine-gun spitters and still manages to make it interesting. Holding onto a thought and stretching it out, he catches up with himself in the following bar. It’s as if Drake is making up for the words he could’ve just spit in the previous line. There isn’t anything overtly impressive about rapping ‘less.’ What is impressive, however, is that Drake incorporates this particular style into his melodies as an effective device, without boring us. This form of accentuation is written all over ‘In My Feelings.’
No one pays heed when dudes like Fetty Wap get in your face and bark an entire verse. Drake isn’t anywhere near as grating when he wants to make a statement. He pays attention to shorter bursts on tracks like ‘Worst Behavior’ – incredibly simple yet potent. Special emphasis on those exclamation marks, though!
And then, he nails even an entirely slurry, chill and free-flowing track like Controlla. Drake is the type of a guy to buy bottled water and then take it to the ocean to let it free. I’m not even kidding! He can belt out an entire vibe that we can spend the rest of the year whining to!
No matter how he approaches melody, pace or patterning, Drake manages to keep us on our toes from project to project. This is why, he’s one of rap’s most interesting and influential.
Here’s wishing Drake a very happy birthday!