Posted tagged ‘drake’

Drake’s Letter to Aaliyah – Letter Review

August 31, 2010

I know way too many people here right now who had songs on the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack. What am I doing?

Last week marks nine years since the death of sultry songstress Aaliyah. Moved by her body of work in life and in the years following her death, rapper Drake (AKA “Wheelchair Jimmy”) publicly expressed how much the singer meant to him in a way that touched some and offended others. He writes:

Dear Dana,

I’ve never lost a parent, a friend, or a lover but I will never forget this day for the rest of my life. I remember getting the news that you had passed and it connected with my heart like a clean shot from Muhammad Ali. I was crushed. Not only was I one of your biggest fans but I was truly in love with you. I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed passion and relationships in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life just like you. I am pained that we will never get to connect now that music ended up being my career path. But you should know, we all listen to you everyday and we remain inspired and moved by all that you’ve given the world. I hope I make the right life choices so I can end up in heaven where I know you rest your head. I’ll continue to make music in your honor until the day we finally meet. Dinner’s on me!

Love you always and forever,

Drake

Right off the bat he addresses the the R&B Princess posthumously by her middle name ‘Dana.’ Now remember that this kid never met Aaliyah once during his life, and was all of 14-years-old when she died, but feels intimate enough with her to address her by a name that she was never once referred to by any public figure. Balls. He goes on to express that he’s never had to deal with the concept or reality of death at any point in his life, so we might as well be reading Drake’s letter about his time playing water polo with dinosaurs in space. Yes, the death of a celebrity he’s never had any interaction with or connection to is the absolute worst thing to ever happen to Drake in his life, and he’s about to tell us about it.

Or is he?

The next line, where Drake actually uses the word “like” in a simile, suggests someone else may have written it for him. If you’ve ever heard a Drake song, you know he’s somehow incapable of using this word and instead substitutes it with a dramatic pause. (SIMULATED DRAKE LYRIC: “Haters be all up in my ass (dramatic pause) colon / they need to get up off my dick (dramatic pause) foreskin”) Lucky for us, we’re soon reassured Drake’s holding the pen by his hyperbolic high-school heart hemorrhaging the sentence “I was truly in love with you.” At the risk of sounding cheesy, Drake fell for the girl on TV. He then states how his inner-turmoil for never having an Aaliyah to his own is compounded now that’s he’s wound up in the music industry. This is followed by him adding a royal touch by suddenly jumping to the first-person plural perspective, stating “we all listen to you everyday and we remain inspired and moved by all that you’ve given the world.” I know age ain’t nothin’ but a number, but I’m pretty sure most would agree that numbers are, in fact, numbers. So either Drake is suggesting both he and Aaliyah’s ghost are still listening, inspired and moved by HER OWN MUSIC or he’s returning to the writing device that can now only be referred to as “Drakeperbole.”

Aren't you that somebody from the wheelchair from that kids' show?

The letter closes by proving Drake really thinks he’s (that?) somebody. He states with no real certainty or confidence that he hopes he “made the right life choices” so that he could end up in a lower-case “heaven” (must be the generic off-brand afterlife) where he knows she is. He then dedicates the rest of his career to her and asks her, CEO Dame Dash’s dead fiancee, to dinner. Again, balls. Not only does Drake believe that when he’s truly so far gone he’ll wind up somewhere that isn’t a proper noun BUT it’s a place where even despite his celebrity he’s expected to pay for food.

Best I Never Met.

While the sentiment is strong, the numerous errors and overindulgence within the letter really takes away from any beyond-the-grave quality or impact it might have. Furthermore, it’s troubling that this letter is eerily similar to one I wrote to early 20th-century bluesman Blind Willie McTell earlier this year:

Dear Bill,

I’ve never lost a parent, but I have lost grandparents, close friends, a choir teacher, a gerbil, a hamster, and a beta fish. Still, I will never forget the day I found out you died twenty-six years before I was born. I remember getting the news that you had been very dead for a long time and it burned me like a George Foreman Grill. I was smushed. Not only was I one of your biggest fans but I would use your name as an inarguable trump card when hooking up with guitar-enthusiast music snob girls in college. I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed beating your triflin’ woman in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life to know her southern can belonged to me. I am pained that we will never get to connect now that music ended up being what I’ve convinced my former high school classmates I’m doing with my life. But you should know, we all listen to you everyday and we remain inspired and moved by all that you’ve given the world. I hope I make the right life choices so I can end up with you where the good lord sends women down. I’ll continue to make music in your honor until the day we finally meet. Hope you like Taco Bell!

Yours in dated misogyny,

Chaz

We give Drake’s Letter to Aaliyah a Two out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

VH1 Hip Hop Honors 2010 – Reporting Live!

June 4, 2010

Best 2010 Hip-Hop Honors Ever!

It’s the early morning of Friday, June 4th and I’m writing this having just returned home from the 2010 VH1 Hip Hop Honors event. This year’s theme is The Dirty South, honoring such legends as Master P, J. Prince (founder of Rap-A-Lot), 2 Live Crew, Timbaland and Jermaine Dupri. Thanks to the homie Adam Bernard, I was invited to witness the festivities firsthand and let me tell you what a rare treat this was. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota and would spend my weekends hopping from music store to music store. Due to the North Star state’s geographic location, rappers from every region eventually had their material matriculate back to us. I got a fever for several simultaneous flavors and really learned to love rap music for its various variants. Now was my first opportunity ever to see many of my heroes in the flesh, so of course I had to be there.

Seriously.

Before I begin, I want to point out that the entire show was shot “out-of-order” so if anything in this recap happens in a different sequence or doesn’t make it to air, you can chalk it up to the magic of television. I’m going to attempt to avoid spoilers, but knowing VH1’s track record you’re going to be bombarded with commercials of all the surprises so unless you have the will-power to not watch the numerous “What Chilli Wants” marathons over the next 72 hours I’d advise you to proceed with caution.

After hours of standing, the night began with a tribute to Rap-A-Lot Records’s founder J Prince. Rap-A-Lot’s string of releases from 1990-1994 is my favorite period of any record label’s output ever. The medley of the label’s biggest hits began with Geto Boys member Willie D and The Game performing “Mind Playin Tricks on Me.” Say what you will about The Game’s music and penchant for name-dropping, but his love for Hip-Hop really shines through in his live performance as he knocked Bushwick Bill’s verse out of the park. The medley also included Juvenile doing “Nolia Clap” and Drake dueting with UGK’s Bun-B. None of these acts were announced beforehand, so you can imagine how the place exploded when they just appeared on stage one-right-after-another.

We were then treated to the opening vignette and an incredible brief (We’re talking 2-3 jokes tops) monologue from Craig Robinson, best known as Daryll from “The Office.” His dry wit was quite a change from the playfully obnoxious partying of Tracy Morgan in years past, but with the flamboyance of the talent being honored and doing the honoring he made an effective straight man, making the presentation palatable for the not-so-country attendants at hand. Also on hand were comedians Eddie Griffin and “Community’s” Donald Glover, the latter of which’s introduction of 2 Live Crew got the biggest laugh of the night.

I thought it was a smart move to divide the tributes by region, allowing the night to work as something of a crash course in “Country Rap Tunes.” Odd as it may sound, Jermaine Dupri got the biggest reactions of the night. For whatever reason, whenever his name was mentioned, the crowd erupted. Odder still is that he got this warm reception yet his tribute video and performance was the only one audible heckled. The only thing I found jeer-worthy of his segment was Diddy giving the worst performance of the night with arguably the least convincing lip-syncing ever publicly performed. What made it so bad was that during his “Welcome to Atlanta” verse, Dupri was still backing him up with a live mic resulting in awkward audio for all.

As for the second worst performance, it fell in the middle of an otherwise great No Limit tribute. Romeo came out dressed like his father circa-’96 to do “I’m Bout It, Bout It” and his tremendous attention to detail in the attire made it work. Off to a great start, things come to a screeching halt when this transitioned with the smoothness of a parking break into Silkk the Shocker’s “That’s Kool.” Despite being the final “hit” of the original No Limit Records, Silkk gave-up midway through the verse repeating one bar four times and then half-finishing the rest, just in time for Trina to miss her cue, do the second half of the chorus, and exit. Gucci Mane then came out as he and Kid Capri attempted to reenergize the crowd getting them just barely ready for MYSTIKAL to do his “MAKE ‘EM SAY UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” verse, saving the night. It’s really great to see Mystikal back on the scene and as energetic as ever, but his appearance just made the choice of “That’s Kool” all the more baffling. Here you have a chance to reunite Silkk and Mystikal for arguably the label’s third most well known song (“It Ain’t My Fault”) and instead you opt for “That’s Kool,” a song nobody really liked or wanted to hear in the first place?

While Silkk Lupe-ing himself will most likely still make it to air, one thing you won’t see is the Serato breaking down during 2 Live Crew’s performance, resulting in them restarting three times over. Sadly, this means you’re going to miss the night’s most genuinely touching moment. After “Me So Horny” and “Hoochie Mama,” the opening notes of “Banned in the USA” suddenly went silent. With the show stopped and countless technicians rushing the stage to fix the problem, Luke walks out and says “No Music? F**k it then. Let’s do this.” He then goes into the Crew’s old “One and One” routine (their reinterpretation of The Kinks “All Day and All of the Night”) as each member joins in with a “just like old times” look in their eyes. Moments like this are what a show like Hip Hop Honors should be about and it would be a shame if you never got to see it.

With the bulk of this show set to be made in post-production, the lineup’s randomness really drained the crowd. The real star, however, was the tremendous set design and art direction. Every artist had a distinct motif that really captured who they were. It helped give each region a distinct look to match the sound and added a grandiose touch of theatrics. Both VH1 and the artists involved really went out of their way to make the night as comprehensive as possible, from Cool Breeze (the man who coined the phrase “Dirty South” on Goodie Mobb’s 1995 album Soul Food) performing the Organized Noize tribute to Mannie Fresh grabbing the mic in between 2 Live Crew technical difficulties to acknowledge Suave House and other southern icons that VH1 forgot.

While I really have no idea how this is going to look on air, I had a great time. The Rap-A-Lot medley was the best performance and believe me when I tell you it is not to be missed. If you check it out, be sure to look for me. I’m the one white guy who isn’t wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses indoors or has a flat-out embarrassing tattoo. Seriously caucazoids, step your game up!

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!