With the release of his recent album(s), “Scorpion,” it’s clear Drake has a lot on his mind. Already one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Drake’s recent beef with Virginia’s very own Pusha T only served to amp up the anticipation.
Drake responded somewhat to Pusha T’s surgical “The Story of Adidon” by stating “I wasn’t hiding my son from the world / I was hiding the world from my son,” which sounds like an understandable, albeit insufficient, response. But perhaps, there is something telling in Drake wanting to protect his son from the world that has simultaneously given Drake the acclaim he brags about, while alienating him to the point of crooning over trivial slights.
Pusha T’s diss track has, by far, dealt the most crushing blow to Drake as a public figure, perhaps not enough to lose fans, but enough to justify viewing Drake in a negative light. Although the track seemed to shine a spotlight on Drake’s secret son, “The Story of Adidon” was accompanied by a jarring photo of Drake in blackface. The photo was revealed to be real and forced Drake to explain himself via Instagram.
Now, the complexity of how a biracial man from Canada is seen as a black man in America is something I cannot speak to. However, I can speak to alienation. As an Asian-American, I am (oftentimes) perceived as the perpetual foreigner because of my outer appearance. Drake, as a black Canadian, has come across colorism in America.
“That’s a very American thing as well, light skin and dark skin, like I don’t even notice that.”
The irony is that this is the most vulnerable we’ve seen Drake. Although he’s dropped a few lines about race in his songs, there has been nothing of depth or substance. It was more acknowledgement than grappling. If he sang about the complexity of being a biracial man from a country that doesn’t share the same complicated racial history as America rather than a girl who hasn’t responded to his texts, perhaps he’d be a Nobel Laureate.
Kidding aside, it’s here that we realize that despite all the hits and relatable lyrics, Drake is actually a foreigner himself. He comes from one of the most diverse cities in the world, Toronto, which he describes as a “cultural melting pot.”
“America, I come here sometimes and I witness, like, real segregation. Like when you go to LA and it’s like, ‘This area’s Mexican, and this area’s white.’ That’s crazy to me because in Toronto we have cultural areas… but it’s not segregated.”
Perhaps, this is what Drake wants to shield his son from, the alienation and hurt that can result from being neither here nor there. It’s even likely that his son will face a harsher level of scrutiny due to who his father happens to be. And if so, Americans, especially minorities, can empathize with Drake on a deeper level.
I remember trying to fit into the mold of America. I wasn’t white or black, but those were the options presented in pop culture and I had to choose between them. I was neither accepted here as an American nor there in my parents’ homeland of Korea, but wanted to belong somewhere. The truth is far more complicated as I’ve learned to accept that I’m both here and there.
Drake seems to embrace his identity as a renowned rapper at the height of his powers even if he may not want to deal with the complexity of his skin, at least for the time being.
But as his son grows older, it’ll be harder to avoid the topic as they both learn that their public perception is more than skin deep.
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Written in VA. An MFA graduate in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.