Review Summary: The Drake Delusion
I've spent a long time trying to resolve the upfront and striking schism that exists in Drake's psyche. On one hand he exudes this repressed and almost infantile emotional fragility that, when taken at face value, extends out a hand to the lovelorn and the heavy-hearted. It's almost comforting when combined with the pensive minimalism of his producer/collaborator Noah Shebib's musical backdrop. But this Drake runs contrary to the walking id that is Drake's braggadocio; a twisted and convoluted product of desire, middle class boredom, and an obsessive, almost petty sense of entitlement. He laments and loathes the trappings of his suburban prison to the point where it defines him more than any musical accomplishment or playful one liner ever could.
Then it hit me. These two sides can never come to terms with each other. They are all part of the grand delusion that feeds Drake's own desires and inhibitions. His gentle, old soul persona is an extension of the game that he has chosen to play. It's not about happiness, it's not about fulfillment, the only goal in Drake's mind is vapid notoriety and all the trappings that it offers. The only thing that makes it all okay is that he admits it. Every line about understanding is a misleading mask playing on the lack of self-esteem of the girl who is sitting alone at the bar – a reassuring farce that validates her existence as nothing more than a late night play thing and lets Drake bask in his own warming glow. Nothing Was The Same
is paltry and cheap. Yet at the same time it is oddly compelling. It's as if his complete lack of flow and the heart he paints on his sleeve in erasable ink obfuscate enough of his calculated chicanery to allow it all to blend into a soothing aberration, skewing the lines between disingenuous bullshi
t and brilliance. It's a balancing act that he plays quite well, much to my chagrin and enjoyment, as every time he opens his mouth I am conflicted but still hanging on to every clumsy word.
The glue tying this hollow scheme all together is Noah “40” Shebib. His production work is flawless. Following the subdued and melodramatic heart pangs of the mellow moments on 2011's Take Care
, the music that he has afforded Drake is pulsating in a distant and estranged sexuality. Every time Drake stumbles, Shebib is there to pick him up, rocketing him to emotional heights he never was even capable of reaching on his own. The beats themselves take influence from far across the electronic music spectrum, from the Gold Panda-esque vocal loops in “Tuscan Leather” to the Fennesz-like floating beat of “Own It”, showcasing not only Shebib's ear for layers, but his skill to seamlessly articulate them into more palatable and commercially viable forms. Even when he pulls from more club friendly sources, ala the aggressive trap glitch-outs in “Worst Behaviour”, he manages to work it in to his greater vision, rolling back the MDMA laced dance floor clanging and twisting it into nothing but bare paranoid immediacy.
While listening to Nothing Was The Same
I can feel the wool being pulled over my eyes. I know it's nothing but a shallow and vacuous ploy, but it doesn't bother me as much as I know it should. Drake's pop music con job is just too well executed, despite all its obvious flaws, to not be enjoyed.