Drake Is Invincible Because He's So Impossibly Vulnerable

Drake press photo
So who is this Drake guy, anyway?

Of course, there's Drake the superstar, the guy who opens his latest, Nothing Was the Same, with the brag that he's as famous as his mentor--though at this point, he's arguably much more famous than Lil Wayne, who signed him to Cash Money. Drake's the guy who casually hit on Scarlett Johansson on Late Night with Fallon, who's been ranked by Esquire as "the Sexiest Woman Alive" not once but twice.

There's Drake, the former child star whose career trajectory has found him dominating the charts, casually shuffling between hip-hop and R&B. Drake, the guy who popularized the term "YOLO," embraced by your little sister on Tumblr, guys ordering bottle service in Scottsdale, and your grandma justifying dessert at Applebees. Drake is an institution.

Then there's that other Drake, the one who apologized to members of his family before lyrically shredding them with his Fallon performance of Nothing Was the Same's "Too Much." The singer pining after the "Courtney from the Hooters on Peachtree," calling out a waitress ex-girlfriend by name on "From Time," (a dick move no matter how you look at it.) There's the Drake who bitterly sampled a phone call from another ex on 2011's "Marvin's Room." ("Are you drunk right now?")

There's the Drake pitching hissy fits about his Would You Like a Tour guest Future's reasoned criticisms of his latest album. There's the Drake serving as poster boy for "emo rap," joked about by harder rappers and armchair hip-hop bloggers alike, all while he self-defensively claims he "started from the bottom," much to the chagrin of M.I.A., who loudly resents the notion on her latest, Mantangi.

Drake's complicated, and like any good social creature, he's quick to remind you of it. Drake revels in his duality, playing both the braggadocio superstar and the wounded sentimentalist. Just look at the album cover: a bold, bright painting by Kadir Nelson, featuring Drake as a full grown man on some editions, and an Afro'ed Drake as a child on others. It's a sleeve that calls to mind classic '70s R&B more than current hip-hop.

Drake aims for pop transcendence, to be as timeless as Stevie Wonder, Outkast, or Marvin Gaye; he may not be all things to all listeners, but you'd have a hard time convincing him he isn't.


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