I never wanted to be a Drake fan.
See, I like my rappers tough and brimming with braggadocio.
When it comes to the age-old question of Tupac v. Biggie — I plant my feet firmly on the East Coast (I’m also Stones over Beatles but that’s an argument for another time).
One of my favorite lines in all of music is from Notorious B.I.G’s Big Poppa – “I see some ladies tonight that should be havin’ my baby, baby…”
Boldest statement I have ever heard and you know no-no-Notorious meant every word.
Our boy Drakkar Noir lays his game down flat but his swag is tempered by his introspection and uncertainty. First name greatest, last name ever? Not with those daddy issues, son.
In addition to straying from the archetype I prefer in my hip hop legends, there were a plethora of reasons for me not to like Drake:
– Degrassi. Dudes, the Wheelchair Jimmy will never be a thing. And it shouldn’t be. Ever.
– He’s Canadian. I love our neighbors to the north but their hip hop legacy starts with Snow and ends with the Swollen Members. There’s just an ocean of mediocrity there.
– His real name is Aubrey. I love this name. I used to babysit for an Aubrey when I was in high school and that kid was awesome. But dude, seriously? Aubrey? To co-opt the words of Harry Burns – an Aubrey can do your income taxes, if you need a root canal, Aubrey’s your man but when it comes to spittin’ sixteen bars of fire? No dice.
– His affiliation with Lil’ Wayne. I know Weezy F. Baby creates some solid club bangers and he knows his way around a sly lyric or two but he is representative of ALL the asshattery.
Then, Take Care snaked its way into my life. Initially, I resisted — fingers flying to the dash to change the station in the car, gritting my teeth and rolling my eyes if it came on overhead and just avoiding it because no. I am not listening to this.
But eventually, it seduced me.
Not gonna lie — this picture helped a lot:
Oh, what? We haven’t figured out just how shallow I am yet?
Straight ladies and gay men? You’re welcome.
Straight men – do this. Do this now.
What bothered me more than the fact that I liked this song was the fact that I liked it so much. I did a little research and figured that the entire track is an interpolation of Gil Scott Heron’s I’ll Take Care of You.
Scott Heron was a jazz/soul poet who gained notoriety in the 1970s and has influenced hip hop in huge ways. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is one of his best-known works and a really interesting piece of writing filled with cultural touchstones. I don’t know much about poetry but something about his work reminds me so much of Ginsberg’s Howl.
Four Reasons I’m In Love With This Song
1. I hate island music. The whole steel drum thing? Never really done anything for me and honestly, I hate reggae.
Yeah — come at me, bro.
Look – I realize the importance of Bob Marley. The man is worthy of his iconic status and if anyone understands the desire to prop up mortal musicians as prophets, it’s me.
But Redemption Song just doesn’t affect me in any way.
Yes, it does get a little nippy living without a soul.
However, the soft, gyrating shimmer of steel drums in this song? Kind of perfect. Take Care is a sparse and airy track. Lots of space and even more room to breathe. However, the steel drums tighten it up a little. Like making eyes at someone across a crowded room and feeling like everyone else has just melted away.
2. The shout-out to Leslie Gore’s novelty hit It’s My Party — “It’s my party/I’ll get high if I want to/Can’t deny that I want you/But I’ll lie if I have to.”
I love stuff like that – references, shout-outs, nods and winks. Any excuse for me to tap my nose and say, “I see what you did there.”
3. The inclusion of Gil Scott-Heron’s scatting at the end of the track.
I am not a religious person in any capacity but I figure if there is a Lord to make a joyous noise onto, you should probably butter him up with a little scatting. Otis did it in Try A Little Tenderness (got-ta-got-ta-na-na-na) and Michael Jackson did it in Wanna Be Startin’ Something (mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah).
Actually, in retrospect – this is probably a terrible idea. Redding died in a plane crash and Michael Jackson — well, I don’t even need to go into what a train wreck that was.
Oh God. God hates scatting.
4. The Twilight Singers do a great cover of Take Care along with Marc Lanegan.
Look, I know it’s a completely different track but I love this band and I will never stop pounding the drum for them.
When Lanegan rasps that he’ll take care of me, I’m immediately on guard — Take care of me? Please. You’re the big, bad wolf and you’ll eat me up…but damned if I’m not going wander deep into that dark forest with you anyway.
Usually, I provide Spotify links to the track I’m in love with but it’s summer, I’m warm and happy and buoyant with good music in my life so behold the bounty:
I’m not feeling Drizzy’s boots, but dude can wear the hell out of a plain black tee. Also, every shot I see of that frozen tundra, I immediately think, “Jon Snow! Wildlings! The Wall!”
I’m never going to be cool, am I?
* Sidebar: Tupac’s line from Hit ‘Em Up about Mobb Deep comes pretty close too – “Don’t one of y’all got sickle cell or something?”
Whoa. Back it on up, ‘Pac. Say what you will about fucking other people’s bitches and murdering people but damn, sickle cell? Really? That’s cold-blooded, dude