Thoughts On Drake, “Started From The Bottom” [Video]
Posted by jeffwbaird on February 10, 2013
Drake’s awareness of the divide between the substantive hip-hop of the underground scene he came up in and that of the mainstream (which he’s currently immersed in) has always fascinated me, and his success is largely due to how he’s been able to perform so well in both realms. But his ideals are changing fast. I fear that we may never get another record as honest, introspective, and meditative as So Far Gone. His first two LP’s highlighted his complexity as an artist as he produced ultimately thoughtful records, inter-spiced with pop jams that didn’t fit the rest of the album’s tone — a trend that is replicated in the majority of major releases in the present day. But with the release of “Started From the Bottom,” Drake has finally given us a single that harshly abandons his beloved idiosyncrasies and fortes—a record where his delivery is so determined to be gruff that it is unceasingly stagnant and unimaginative.
When he was starting out, he knew that in order to gain credibility he had to provide something different, so he presented himself as a beacon of honesty, and as a genuine storyteller—which, for the most part—he lived up to originally. But while he wanted to unite a passionate fan-base around this self-image, he also wanted to attract consumers of pop radio and commercial hip-hop, and it’s no secret that gangsta hip-hop has dominated the mainstream for the past two decades. Drake’s concerns have become less about his originality, and in reality, have turned to the opposite—fitting the portfolio of a hip-hop artist that has led to respect and stardom for much of the current genre-toppers. With his third album, we may finally receive the Drake that told Kate Couric that Lil Wayne was the “voice of our generation,” and whom seems more interested in what the hip-hop community thinks of his childhood than making music he can be proud of.
Drake’s new album is slated to come out this year, and I’ll be waiting to see what kind of a move he makes on his new single, but from where I stand, “Started From the Bottom” is a bold step in the wrong direction. The direction I’ve feared he’s been heading in for quite some time.