So many styles, so many flows. So much nuance, so much variety. Just how does Drake keep us coming back and back again (not to imply that he’s back from something)?
I have a theory: he suffers – and succeeds – from Multiple Personality Disorder, or MPD.
There is more than one Drake, there has to be.
In reality, he is a sweet Jewish boy named Aubrey Graham from East Canada, but we don’t know him as well as we know “Drake.” Correction, Drakes*. The many Drakes were born from his musical career.
I’ll start from the beginning.
2008 he first matters.
He’d been a star in Degrassi’s hay day and put out a mixtape or two in ’06 but he had a few songs get VERY big in 2008-9. He introduced to us our first musical Drake:
1) Calm, sensitive, classier than most, caring, honest, late night, sweet, sweet lovemaking Drake.
We’ll call him Late Night Drake, or LND for short.
LND will tell you you’re special. And he’ll mean it. He’ll tell you how you’re not like the other girls. He’ll even sing it.
Exhibit A. “Sweat pants, hair tied, Chillin with no make up on, that’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong.” — Best I Ever Had (So Far Gone Mixtape, 2008)
Exhibit B. “ I was trippin’ off how I used to sleep at ya crib, should drive by right where you live, and pick you up on the way. We aint spoke in so long, probably put me in the past, I can still get you wet and I can still make you laugh, you should call into work if that ain’t too much to ask.” – Come Thru (Nothing Was the Same Album, 2013)
LND will look you in the eyes, wait till you’re ready, but then he’s gonna have sex with you. That happens. He’s very generous, kind and complementary, and the blend of lovemaking and deep conversations twists and turns all night, until near sunrise when you both drift off to sleep. He’ll make you eggs the next morning and text right when you get home in the cab or Uber he pays for. The only thing he wants more than your ass is your heart. LND gets both. If you break up, it’s sad but amicable.
Late Night Drake wears his heart on his sleeve.
And it’s yours.
Our next Drake was also introduced in So Far Gone, but he really came to life in Take Care.
2) Swaggy, shit-talkin’, scary crew-havin’, wordsmith who we just assume grew up in the hood Drake.
This man, has been named already: Drizzy Drake. So let’s just keep that moniker.
Ol’ double D don’t make no love, he fucks bitches. Two or three at a time typically. He drinks Hennessey from golden goblets and seems to at least know someone who owns a gun. He can go hard or just lean back and explain to you that he is a force to be reckoned with. He’ll dip, dive, and double-entendre you into not thinking, but knowing, that you are the inferior man. Often, he’ll even have sex with your girlfriend while you’re dating her, without permission!
He alludes to some fictitious thug life past that we have no choice but to believe took place. Drizzy Drake goes hard in the paint and he’s not afraid to let you know.
Exhibit A. “Last name ever, first name greatest, like a sprained ankle boy I aint nothin’ to play with, started off local but thanks to all the haters, I know G4 pilots on a first name basis.” — Forever (More Than a Game Soundtrack, 2009)
Exhibit B. “I know I exaggerated things, now I got it like that, tuck my napkin in my shirt cus I’m just mobbin’ like that, you know good and well that you don’t want a problem like that, you gon’ make someone around me catch a body like that.” – Headlines (Take Care Album, 2011)
Exhibit C. “Brand new Baretta, cant wait to let it go, walk up in my label like where the check, doe? Yeah I said it, wouldn’t dap you with the left, hoe. Shut the fuck up, text from a centerfold, I aint reply, let her know I read it doe.” – Star67 (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late Mixtape, 2015)
Whoa there, I thought he just wanted to be loved, now he’s catching bodies? He has a baretta? They’re hoes now, not women? He’s mean with read receipts?
Careful, you’re forgetting that although Aubrey Graham is one man, LND and DD are two separate and distinct personalities that take Aubrey over, involuntarily and unpredictably. Often both will even appear in the same song. Back and forth, back to back (like they’re on the cover of lethal weapon). Just more evidence supporting my theory.
Even Drizzy Drake is complicated. He talks shit, goes ham like every day is Christmas, yet he’s truly a lyrical genius. Look at that wordplay, those rhyme-schemes. How can they come from one man? They don’t. Three letters folks:
The next, relatively new Drake seems to be pissed you’re not understanding how badass he is. Apparently DD didn’t quite get that message across. So,
3) Loud Tough Guy Drake, aka LTGD is born
He’s brimming with hot steaming swag and for some reason there is a lot of anger attached to it. Think Drizzy Drake, but with a bad case of ‘roid rage. He’s recent; I imagine the world of hip-hop, fickle fans and critics has slowly stirred up a rage within him.
Exhibit A. “Nah, fuck all of you niggas, I aint finished. Y’all don’t wanna hear me say it’s a go. Y’all don’t wanna see Win Win, 50 or W.O.E. I got real ones livin’ past Kennedy Road. I got real ones wit’ me everywhere that I go. I’m tryna tell ya I got enemies, got a lot of enemies!” – Energy (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late Mixtape 2015)
Exhibit B. (at the top of his lungs) “I got a really big team, and they need some really big rings, they need some really nice things, better be comin with no strings, better be coming with no strings!” – Big Rings (What A Time To Be Alive Mixtape, 2015)
Exhibit C. “JUMPMAN, JUMPMAN, JUMPMAN, JUMPMAN!” – Jumpman (What A Time To Be Alive Mixtape, 2015)
Okay man, sorry. I don’t know what I did wrong, what the problem is or how it can be fixed, but please don’t hit me with your ring hand. I think you’ve been hanging out with future too much. Your voice got so loud and so deep, you need to realize that’s not grape soda he’s sharing sips of.
It’s like Drake #2, DD, is rapping to an old man. It’s that familiar “MISTER JOHNSON, IT’S TIME FOR YOUR MEDICATION . . . YES, YOUR MEDICATION!” type of tone and repetition. No use in wasting time on clever wordplay, just gotta get the message across.
LTGD is only two years old, making him one of the younger siblings in the family that is Drake’s set of personalities.
But baby bro is even younger than Drake 3. He’s almost a new person entirely. The true sign of worsening Multiple Personality Disorder is the further distinction of one’s personas. Individual affects, attitudes and accents indicate said phenomenon.
This Drake certainly has quite the accent(s).
4) Thick Canadian with a pinch of west indie accent Hip-Pop occasional singing Drake, or Cana-Jamaican Drake
Most of our views of CJD come from well, Views. Other than slipping a few Torontan-
islander slang terms into songs, there hasn’t been much evidence he’s anything more than mildly Canadian. However, with the growing importance of repping a hometown, Drake has drastically upped his Canadian accent game. Which if you’re from Toronto (apparently) includes an ever so slight Jamaican drawl.
There’s not much to this emerging personality other than the accent. He skips the H sound, stretches A’s and skips words like a non-native speaker. And you know what the result of this new patois is? Gems. In his limited appearances, CJD gets the people going. He makes you want to dance, period.
Exhibit A. “I need-a one dance, got a ‘ennessy in my ‘and, one mo’ time fo’ I go, ‘igha powa’ takin’ a hold o’ me.” – One Dance ft. Wizkid & Kyla (Views Album, 2016)
Exhibit B. “And I’m never on a waste ting shorty, I do it how you say you wan’ it. Them girls, they just wanna take my money, them girls, they don’t wan’ me to give you not’ing, they don’t wan’ you to ‘ave not’ing, they don’t wanna see me find your lovin’” – Controlla (Views Album, 2016)
He’s so Canada, so Toronto, that now all of his friends are island immigrants and their lingo is rubbing off on him. Rappers from Young Thug to Nicki Minaj are messing around with Jamaican accents, and listeners love it. The difference is, Drake isn’t messing around.
CJD lives inside and outside the booth. Most audiences probably assume he simply donned the accent to shake up a few songs, but anyone who has seen a recent interview or especially his pre-If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late short film “Jungle” knows otherwise. In “Jungle,” CJD is given free reign, essentially doing a Canadian Jimmy Cliff impression each time he speaks. He’s young, but if his appearances on Views are any indication of what the future holds, Cana-Jamaican Drake is going to be a hit machine.
In less than a decade Drake has taught us that one man can really be four, that each personality derived from his crippling MPD is capable of churning out bangers, and that superstar talent must come from deep-seeded mental illness.
9/11 may have been an outside job, and yeah, maybe Tupac isn’t alive but Drake definitely has Multiple Personality Disorder.