An artist simply known as “Drake” has stormed onto the rap scene with a message on the topic line of love that had been traditionally left out of popular hip hop culture. It isn’t the typical (ultra masculine/in control) message relayed by 50 Cent in songs like “21 Questions” or Jay-Z in “Song Cry.” That being a song written around a guy who (of course) did something wrong in the relationship by his own choice. Instead from what I have heard, Drake’s message has the undertone of him being used emotionally in several past relationships. While in many songs the reason is not clear, it appears to be (not because he cheated, was somehow abusive, or for that matter did anything) it is simply because he is Drake, an ordinary guy.
The content delivered by Drake while robust in emotion, often has a somber undertone of pain experienced in past relationships. His whimsical delivery relays a new soul I see arising in black men that goes to the core of their own self-value in this new millennium. A approach that is devoid of independent self-pride, missing the link of masculinity that in my belief is key to a man’s emotional stability. The question is what will these songs leave in their wake as a new generation of little boys listen to them for guidance? Only time can tell. Drake in songs like “Best I Ever Had” with phrases like “You the Best” reverberates a message of an ego stroke that is so strong it leaves no space for improvement.
Under the coat of Drake, the self-proclaimed white knight, there is a visible chink in his armor that rivets to the core of his point. From a spite for being forgotten, to an anger for being turned away — it is all there. Yet, Drake’s message appears to be not just his own, which is why it has stricken a chord in Black American culture. A division in access to the tools that lead to economic success over the last 25 years between the genders of our race has resulted in far too many failed relationships. During this time there was a clear divide in access to the “American Dream” between the sexes. Black men faced systemically high unemployment rates, above 50 percent in some cities (according to JSOnline.com it’s now 57 percent in Milwaukee) and prison rates never seen before in modern history, while at the same time young black women saw great success in the first part of the 21st century. As an example of the new found success, according to the Chicago Tribune article “Black Women Buy More Homes”
From 1997 to 2002, conventional mortgage loans to black women increased by 114 percent in metro Atlanta. That growth greatly outpaced mortgage loans to white men and white women, which increased in the region by 35 percent and 26 percent, respectively… Waiting could be fruitless in metro Atlanta, where single black women outnumber single black men by about 100,000. T.Odom further narrows her choices. She wants to date men who, like her, have a college education and a healthy income.” At this age in my life, I’m not looking to start at Level 1. I’m at Level 3, and I need a man to be at Level 3 or above,” Odom said.
My belief is the divide created an emotional chasm in many of our relationships. The result is a division in access to economic opportunity, and a change in relating habits. Recent studies show 75 percent of African American babies are born out of wedlock, the impact of which has torn a hole in our social fabric. Traditionally young women transitioned from being around girlfriends, to being with mates in their early 20s. Due to social change that transition is not only being delayed, but in some cases entirely avoided. As girls night out has become just women that go everywhere together — we have lost the drive that pushes the genders together. Like kids in a mall our young women and men have become 30-something-year-olds, that ( in terms of relationships) live like the Toys “R” Us slogan and “…don’t wanna grow up”.
It is through Drake’s experiences of pain before becoming a rap success, that he draws much of his content. Songs like “Hurt” which states : “Aint nothing worse than the hurt we receive from love, When you get hurt by the one you living for, Pain can make you wanna love no more.” This content holds a message of women that have forgotten, left or hurt him in ways that clearly left emotional scars. But if this is Drake’s message, imagine what you find in the hood: much darker demons and deeper messages of pain. That pain resolves itself incorrectly in Drake’s songs in the form of an unresolved emotional bitterness, rather than logical acceptance and growth. “We coulda worked it out, uh, but I guess things change. It’s funny how someone else’s success brings pain When you no longer involved, that person has it all And you just stuck standing there…” Say Something Is the answer truly to cower behind emotional counter plays based on pain, or to stand stronger? Is the answer to stroke an ego with words like “best” or “most,” or stand stronger? Drakism and all that it holds takes the former options and commercializes them, possibly to a point of no return.
The “Process of Drakism,” as I call it, is one whereby men lash out in emotion, and in doing so they lose that thing which has for so long been the essence of a man. In the end it is possible that Drakism is the draconian punishment levied for a culture that has gone forward at light speed, without being honest about the possible consequences.
The larger looming question is, Have our relationships fell prey to emotions that are out of control entirely? In-between all of the the Instagram selfies and Facebook self portraits, has the development of the identity of ME and pseudo self dependence created a clash with our ability to connect with one another intimately? To understand the argument you must first start with an understanding of intimacy, not the physical cuddling or emotional coddling. The part where you are open enough to care to your core for someone else as a mate. I see an emotional gap between people in modern American relationships across race, whereby we did not just lose functional roles with the casting away of many social values over the last 30 years. We had an emotional break where (in some cases) as framed within Drake’s lyrics, men sadly now shed more tears than women when it’s decided it’s over, and more often than ever women fight far too little to get the connection back.
There has been an emotional breakdown that has cut across the fabric of our lives, that if not addressed will eat at the core values that traditionally served as the glue that connected the genders in our homes. We are of a generation that is underexposed to quality connections, and overexposed to quantity relationships, hoping the turns in life will deliver an escape in the form of an intimate perfect we have not worked toward within ourselves. It seems the flaw of our era is a loss of personal responsibility for happiness, for no one can ever truly save you from yourself other than you. So, the question begs, are we a society of serial monogamists hoping for a perfect fantasy, or are we more? In the end the process that has resulted, which Drakism describes, is not a sound resolution, the hope is at the least we realize it and can make a change and keep “Holding on Cause We’re Going Home.”
Antonio Moore is a Entertainment Attorney in Los Angeles, CA. He is also a Contributing Blogger on Huffington Post – Read More