The Soapbox: Don’t Let Drake’s “Sensitivity” Fool You – He’s Still A Misogynist

We the Internet recently got a kick out of Drake’s new song “Hotline Bling” and its subsequent video. It did all the things it was supposed to do. Generate some controversy? Check. Sprout a bunch of new memes? Check. Leave me absolutely confused by his tacky ’90s parody wardrobe and that struggle two-step? Double check. All of this chatter drums up the hits, the demand, sustaining Drake as one of today’s most popular rappers.

This is as far as the Drake dissection typically goes, right? He makes some song with a catchy beat and a hook that lodges itself in our brains, feeding off our life force like some sort of parasite. Article after article comes out declaring Drake as hip hop’s “unapologetic movement of femininity” and We the Internet have fun giggling at how ‘sensitive’ he is, how he’s literally the juicy butt of all jokes. I’ve even seen a think piece that went so far to call Drake a feminist, and you know what? I can’t take it anymore. I don’t care how much he worships the ground our lord and savior Serena Williams walks on. Drake is neither feminine nor a feminist in any matter.

Drake is a misogynist.

How do we all not know this? It’s right in our faces! Drake isn’t “regular ol’” hip hop misogyny. He’s hitting levels of narcissism usually associated with a movie trope of some fraternity-bro-douchebag named Chad.

Listen, “Hotline Bling” is an incredibly salty and self-centered rant about an ex having the courage to move on. Drake laments:

Ever since I left the city
You got a reputation for yourself now
Everybody knows and I feel left out
Girl you got me down, you got me stressed out
Cause ever since I left the city, you
Started wearing less and goin’ out more
Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor
Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before

It’s a good laugh on a tertiary level, isn’t it? Here, Drake is being ‘so sensitive’ again. Except these verses are the absolute opposite of sensitivity. Drake’s entire gripe with his ex is that she has a life? He goes about his business “leaving the city” and girlfriend goes straight “slut” because she’s wearing “less clothing” – that little succubus most likely engages in the dreaded sexual of activities which will inevitably earn her a reputation as a harlot because vagina, and on top of that, has the absolute neeeeeerve to get new friends!

At one point, Drake even reveals that girlfriend has almost run out of pages in her passport because she’s been traveling so much. Who the hell does this girl think she is? She’s supposed to be at home counting the days until Drake comes back to the city so she can continue to call his phone late at night and beg for Netflix and chill. Drake has absolutely zero empathy for this girl and her happiness. She is not allotted any unless it’s with him.

Misogyny galore! I’ve gone through my mental Rolodex of Drake music, and found example after example of Drake praising good girls while simultaneously being victimized by bad ones—and these defining characteristics are at best fickle in Drake-land. The lyrics for “Hold On We’re Going Home” praise a woman for being a “good girl,” but also cajoles, “just hold on, we’re going home” which I don’t know about you, but sounds a bit like date rape to me. And then there’s Drake’s feature on 2-Chainz’ “No Lie”:

Chances are if she was acting up then I fucked her once and never fucked again
She could have a Grammy, I still treat her ass like a nominee
Just need to know what that pussy like so one time is fine with me

In this song, Drake objectifies and degrades a woman for … uh … sleeping with him? Her bad, Drake! Her bad! She’ll never open her legs again, okay? What’s even more despicable about this verse is that Drake supposedly wrote this about Rihanna after their alleged relationship went sour, and my goodness, has Rihanna not already been through enough?

This is the Drake persona. Possessive and controlling lyrics, public feuds with women/about women/for women and so on, all those breasts and butts there for him to build his platform upon as he relentlessly pours his music onto the radio and into our hearts.

What’s so insidiously dangerous about Drake’s misogyny is how manipulative and conniving it is. No matter how blaring his message of possessiveness and immaturity is, Drake’s awkwardness, the fact that he for all intents and purposes came from a middle-class family, his goofy smile, his complexion, his homage to his Jewish background, Drake’s entire ability to revel in his feelings is the very thing that obscures our vision of him.

Drake may be selfish, but he has feelings, and gosh darn it, that’s so girly because Black men have no feelings. Black men are animalistic, hyper-masculine; they gobble up our supple female bodies and pick their teeth with our bones. That’s why Drake’s non-threatening. That’s why so many pictures of him next to basketball players circulate the web, calling him “the girlfriend,” and we all laugh because “haha,” he lacks that “cool” swagger Black men must perform; nevertheless, Drake still performs.

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I will admit that I never really got Drake. I never was able to suspend the disbelief that Jimmy from “Degrassi” could possibly rap about “starting from the bottom” (maybe the upper bottom or the lower middle? But not the bottom, dude), and yet I neither have to love him nor hate him to despise his lyricism towards women. I neither have to love nor hate him to understand that he perpetuates a threatening message towards women while being preyed upon for daring to show a wounded heart.

It’s enough for me to acknowledge that sexism is pretty adept at abusing men consequence free, and in some ways it pulls on my sympathy strings, but not enough to absolve Drake from his willing contribution to misogyny itself.