The Mommy, Daddy, Please Stop Fighting Award
By Calum Marsh | 15 December 2009
Drake :: So Far Gone
(October’s Very Own/Young Money Entertainment; 2009)
Like most CMG writers who can’t use words like “trill” or “banging” without feeling like someone’s painfully uncool uncle, I tend to defer all rap-related queries to the opinions of Clay and Chet. I’ve got my own likes and dislikes, my own favorite Young Jeezy verses and Gucci cameos, but even though I generally get by on my own opinions, I know Clay and Chet’s to be more informed. They seem to know what’s, uh, trill (ugh, see?).
And so when CMG’s rap crew disagree, I get confused. I can’t brook such conflict because the conflict feels sort of internal—it feels like a rift dividing some perceived whole, the whole of Clay and Chet’s combined knowledge of hip hop, the general unity of which I require, like the guidance of a dashboard GPS system, to navigate the confusing particulars of the genre. Except now there’s Drake. Drake is the Holiday Inn to which my GPS has suddenly given me two opposing sets of directions, both equally reliable, both seeming to promise the correct destination. Drake has attacked the unity of CMG’s rap family. That nuclear unit of hip hop expertise suddenly rent asunder, each parent demanding exclusive rights to the children—how confused we are about the whole situation (“Chet, who’s this Drake? Why is Clay spending so much time with him? Why are you sleeping on the couch?”)—while we’re forced to accept this new figure, this Drake, this young and irritatingly good-looking teen soap actor we can just tell is bad news. Except, is he bad news? Clay likes him. Hell, Clay claims to maybe even love him, and if it’s enough to tear this family apart, maybe there’s some good in him?
Clay’s praise was enough to spark my interest. I went into it skeptical, as indeed he expected we would, because this is motherfucking Drake, who is of course an utter douche, and how could anyone have expected some dude who looks like that to produce something that sounds like this? And “this,” by the way, sounds fucking awesome. I just assumed, I guess, that it would sound like “Forever”—a big, dumb single backed by a big, obnoxious beat, overloaded with superstar cameos and held together with surprisingly competent solo verses. Drake’s verses are still competent as fuck—it’s weird to think that at that age and at that level of douchebaggery that he’s actually a pretty good rapper—but I really was not anticipating all this post->em>808s And Heartbreak minimalism. But rather than “here’s a deliberately shitty drum machine,” it’s “here’s a subtle and really quite beautiful synthesizer that shows Drake exercising remarkable degree of restraint,” which: uh, when did this little shithead get so damn tasteful? And maybe it’s a put-on, the same kind of feigned refinement he probably uses to get laid (“pussy’s only pussy and I get it when I need it,” goes one particularly annoying-but-kinda-awesome-in-a-guilty-way line), but the results are uniformly great. Here’s me admitting it: this is great, or Great, and though it sort of pains me to say—though I can see both younger and older versions of myself both dreading and regretting this statement, respectively—I really do love this mixtape. It’s all I’ve wanted to listen to since I first heard the hook from “Successful”: “I want the money, the money and the clothes / the cars and the clothes / and the hoes / …I suppose.” Like, what? “I suppose”? He supposes? You know that shit would have rhymed with “and the hoes / fo sho” or something more bad-ass? And no, it’s not revelatory, but it is pretty jarring: Drake, this smarmy little prick, is not only cranking out genuine bangers, he’s displaying genuine self-reflection and consideration.
He supposes! This is fucking great.