This past weekend, our favorite Canadian champagne loving papi debuted his latest EP, Scary Hours. Not exactly Take Care Drake, but more of the vibe of a rugged Nothing Was The Same. I say this because Drake is reflecting on his legacy and what that means to himself, those that admire him and the critics. On his latest track "Diplomatic Immunity," one line that stuck out to me was:
“Billboard awards, I claimed 13 out in Vegas like Sureños , Black excellence, but I guess when it comes to me it’s not the same though, all goodie”
Drake’s claim that his accolades go unnoticed is one that we are all used to hearing from him, however, I was taken back by his grievance within the black community. Why would Drake feel as if he’s not #BlackExcellence? Does he have a point? If we, as a culture, removed Drake from the category, I have to ask, why?
If you’re a longtime listener of Drake’s collection, you’d know his friction within his career has been feeling as if he is not black enough. His classic line from “You and the 6” rhymes:
"I used to get teased for being black, and now I'm here and I'm not black enough cause I'm not acting tough or making stories up bout where I'm actually from”
So, is the problem that the community isn’t accepting Drake as one of our own? Is that a valid enough argument? Yes, Drake’s masculinity, “light skinnedness” and street cred have been used as insults to not take him seriously as a rapper. However, numbers don’t lie; Drake has won BET, NAACP Image, Soul Train and Young Artists awards. He also has been nominated for a plethora of awards that celebrate black excellence within the arts.
So when he says that black excellence does not come as easy to him, what is he asking us, the community, to do?
I saw a tweet that wrote, “Drake underrates his standing in the black community…”
And here lies the talking point I am leaning towards.
Drake underrates his standing in the black community lol
— Give up football, Marcus Williams (@REHAB_) January 21, 2018
If Drake’s vexation is that his blackness is questionable because of the hue of his skin or his suburban upbringing, wouldn’t he have lost the culture war against Meek Mill?
What do I mean by that? Meek Mill, fits the rapper trope. He’s from a city whose violence is sensationalized, he’s been a victim to the criminal justice system, he’s an American and both of his parents are black. Yes, we all are familiar with how the beef went down, Drake won at the end. The culture, at that moment in time, chose to side with him. Remember, the once-framed Drake critic Charlamagne The God even sided with him.
One could argue that it's because Meek was disloyal and a bully, but isn't that what we want in a rapper?
Another interesting piece to Drake winning the culture over was his beef with Kid Cudi. Don’t remember what I’m talking about? Kid Cudi went on social media explaining that Drake and Kanye were not treating him fairly. Drake went as far as mocking Kid Cudi’s mental health.
“My numbers out of this world, No wonder they got me feeling so alienated, You were the man on the moon, Now you just go through your phases, Life of the angry and famous”
— from "Two Birds and One Stone"
Drake remained victorious in that beef and went on to release his next successful album, More Life. His black card remained intact.
Yes, Drake has been teased and called every inanimate object that represents a light melanin, but his record sales don’t lie. I also thought about the #BlackExcellence movement, Diddy’s frequent black excellence Instagram shoutouts and Drake’s history with Diddy. Yes, this could be a reach that this was a sub for the hip-hop mogul, but it's Drake. If he wasn’t subing a rapper, then making peace, just to then sub them again, that wouldn’t be him. Just ask Future and Chris Brown.
So I ask again, what is Drake asking from us? Maybe he wants us to discuss his accolades the same way we discuss Kendrick and J. Cole?
He expands this frustration with the lyric:
“I would have all of your fans if I didn't go pop and I stayed on some conscious sh–”
— from "100” feat. The Game
Do we really need Drake to follow the conscious rapper trope? I don’t think so, because it's not authentic to him. We love “Hotline Bling" Drake, Nothing Was The Same Drizzy and other vulnerable entities of Champagne Papi. We love that he is attracted to women that are representations of #BlackExcellence (shout out to Rihanna and Serena). We love his blackness.
So, what is #BlackExcellence? To me, it’s any positive representation of an individual who identifies with African/African-American descent. Drake’s vulnerability, his pride and ability to market himself to show different dimension of black, without being typecast into a stereotypical trope, is admirable. Drake has become a household name and has opened doors for himself that inspires black culture.
Drake , if you’re listening you are #BlackExcellence.