Drake Continues His Sensitive-Guy Act On "Make Me Proud"

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"Make Me Proud," the new Drake track that premiered on Funkmaster Flex's show last night, is virtually guaranteed to be a hit. It's a song about and for women, who have been a crucial part of the Canadian MC's fanbase since "Best I Ever Had." It's got a distinctive sound—clean, deep drums and bass, a synth effect that simulates a landing strip—thanks to Toronto's T-Minus, one of the few young locals Drake's relying on for his sophomore album, Take Care. And it's got a catchy hook and a verse from fellow pop-rap icon Nicki Minaj, bragging about the condition of both her real estate portfolio and her vagina as only she can.

It's also got all of the things that make Drake the most loathsome pop star of the current moment.

Drake has mastered marketing like few other rappers; he knows exactly what people look for in the songs he drops, and he rarely delivers anything else. "Headlines" is an aggressive first single that manufactures a world in which one of the world's most popular rappers "fell off" and is "back," allows those who sing along to pretend that they, too, are "too strung out on compliments," and positions the Degrassi veteran as a person who can credibly put money on a head. It's silly, but that's because Drake, a star of sorts for over a decade, knows exactly how silly fame can be and how appealing it is despite that encumbrance; he's a vessel for the generation that doesn't "(have) it like that" but wishes it did, and he makes sure to acknowledge how good he has it just often enough to be a walking, frowning humblebrag in a sweater.

"Make Me Proud" is the song written by that guy for the stripper he's proud to have put through college ... except the song sounds like what's going to be playing at the strip club when he finds the next stripper du jour. The title's a command; Drake's verse begins with the tweet-ready "I like a woman wit' a future and a past" and then devolves to the laundry list of what Drake seems to need in a woman to be proud of her. "Runnin' on a treadmill and only eatin' salad"? Check, and blech. "Sound so smart, like you graduated college/ Like you went to Yale," he appraises, correcting with the cynical "But you prob'ly went to Howard, knowin' you." And of course, there's the work ethic to do homework over a weekend in Miami, much as exactly zero typical college students do. ("You got it" for Drake, means that they (read: dudes) are "lookin' at you everywhere you go"; it's almost funny, because women who turned down Yale for Howard might have been trying to avoid the male gaze, considering the school's massive female population.)

If it surprises you that Drake is aiming directly at the coed from "Best I Ever Had," two years and a bachelor's later, you're not paying close enough attention. "A girl whose opinion I respect greatly hit me, and she was like, 'There's nothing on the radio for us right now. There's nothing to make women feel good like they did when we had 'Best I Ever Had,'" Drake told Flex on Thursday. "She was just like, I just wanna feel good. So I just wanna let you know, this is your time, man. And the song's called "Make Me Proud," so, you know, go out there and make me proud, baby, you know what it is. Any girl, anybody, doing anything for yourself." Making Drake proud: Now something you do for yourself, apparently.

Drake can't get over himself, can't talk with instead of to a woman, and makes lame stretches for feminism like this: "That's why you wanna have no sex/ Why you wanna protest, why you wanna fight for your right/ 'Cause you don't love them boys/ Pussy run everything, fuck that noise." That it will probably work on women who don't stop to consider the objectifying and sexualizing nature of the phrase "Pussy run everything" is dispiriting, but there's obviously a market for music for women as far from Betty Friedan as Drake is from Jay-Z.

It's okay, though: Those women could still enjoy Drake's whirling dervish of a co-star. Nicki's still playing with the hashtag construction—"I'm a star, sheriff badge" and "Double D up, hoes, Dolly Parton"—but is bragging about what she does rather than how she looks. Who brags about having the best legal team, a ledger's worth of ventures, and a schedule so busy that she can only say hi and bye? A woman who will never need to hear "Make Me Proud" roll into its disingenuous "I'm so, I'm so, I'm so, I'm so proud of you" hook, perhaps, because she takes pride in things more valuable than Drake's esteem.

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7 comments
nobelius_rainbow
nobelius_rainbow

About to make a beer run, but I wanted to ask first: must this be limited to fiction?

Peanutbutter
Peanutbutter

i would just laugh off your opinion as just that...and as Andre 3000 says on the Drake track "let me take you to a place you can stick that in". Well. Your name is Andy. You gonna tell a bitch what is anti-woman and what isn't? Please get back to me when you grow a vag. Alanis was on You Can't Do that On Television, Tupac went to the Fame school. Britney was on MMC. Drake is the man, he has an amazing producer and he is the real deal. end of story. -peanut butter

Jonathanlbrowne
Jonathanlbrowne

well that was just stupid as hell. 

but funny.

It's a pop song yo, not a nuanced letter about his beliefs and feelings toward women.

But as far as your analysis, its pretty damn absurd to say that because someone is talking about making them proud they are saying that their approval is the most important thing in the world. The song is basically a compliment to nikki. I'm pretty sure if you, the writer of this article talked to nikki and presented this bs she would both laugh at you and probably knock you out if you pushed it, for dissing her friend. It's pretty obvious she values Drakes opinion and esteem.

As for your comment about prices on peoples heads....

What the hell do morons who make those kind of comments no understand about reality that makes them say stupid things like that. 

You think that putting a price on someones head is only available to somebody who makes gangsta rap or something?

Anybody with enough money can put a price on someones head.  That being said that phrase catch a body like that can be used to refer to knocking someone out/beating them up.

I don't know why people think just because someone makes R&B music they are no longer credible as someone who might knock you out.

You can never really tell what someone is capable of.

Matt
Matt

Your analysis of "Make Me Proud" is well off the mark. While I'm certainly not ready to lay the oppression of women generally on Drake, I am even less prepared to lay it on "Make Me Proud." Your article proceeds as if a superficial analysis of Drake's lyrics is sufficient to support your thesis. However, your emphasis on the straightforward meaning of the lyrics as text undermines your interpretation of the song. First, Drake's lyrics that you mention ("...probably went to Howard," "pussy run everything," etc.) present as sexist, if merely read, but take on a different light when one actually listens to the song. In general, every time Drake talks about a stripper, or all of his women, it comes across to me more as self-deprecating than offensive. His delivery in "Make Me Proud" belies the dubious sexism of the words, to my ears. I mean, can you honestly take the whole "Howard" line seriously? It's transparently ridiculous. His voice and intonation instruct the listener not to take the lines seriously. Second, the structure of the song indicates that it does not oppress women. It is a Nicki Minaj song. Drake introduces Minaj, and then recedes into the background. Minaj occupies the front and center of the song. She begins with a rap of her own and then goes into a hook that is different from Drake's. It becomes her song. Drake and Nicki split the song 40/70; she's not just there for the hook. And did you watch the SNL performance?  Third, "Running on the treadmill and only eatin' salad" seems less like a condition for Drake's approval, and more of a ridiculous line in a rap song. Do you have a similar problem with his line: "Over double pump lattes and low fat muffins"? Is that sexism? Really? And what's this nonsense about the "male gaze?" Give me a break! Where did this even come from? This is empty rhetorical posturing. Of all rap artists in the world to criticize, you choose the one whose new album's penultimate song ends with a voicemail from his grandmother? Is that just a "sensitive-guy act?" Are we ready to place responsibility for gender inequality on Drake? 

Drake is self-consciously working within the hip-hop and R & B tradition, and, "far from hood but understand[ing] the streets," Drake does more to re-invent its tropes than just mechanically repeating them. Rather than relegate the female vocalist to the hook, like so many other popular songs in this genre, Drake employs a different gender distribution in "Make Me Proud."  Finally, it is more problematic to me that you so cavalierly trash an artist with such a flawed analysis. How can you, in good faith, analyze a song by only discussing the lyrics? And, really, a hip-hop music journalist is offended by a misogynistic rap song? Drake is a complex and polarizing figure, to be sure, and he deserves a more nuanced critique. For goodness sake, he covers "Back that A** Up" on his new album! How sexist is that, right?

#TeamNicki&Drake <3
#TeamNicki&Drake <3

Man shout outs to Nicki Minaj and Drizzy Drake I really love y'all and young money cash money records y'all doin y'all thang out there keep up the good work #TeamNicki&Drake <3

Shea Serrano
Shea Serrano

"It's also got all of the things that make Drake the most loathsome pop star of the current moment."

I guess I feel like this is right, but still, I like him. I mean, he's so, he's so, he's so proud of me, I hear.

Also, man, Nicki Minaj is getting terrible fast. 

S

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