A quick Google search will result in thousands of Drake memes from Twitter to Instagram to Reddit and more. Most of them have something to do with the famed Canadian rapper being “too soft,” “girly,” or “gay.”
Why, though? Just because a man is sensitive and unafraid to share his feelings, does that make him soft and worthy of ridicule?
What if Drake is doing society a service by popularizing introspection and outward sensitivity? In a world fueled by patriarchal ideals, men often feel pressured to feel, act, and be a certain way. Or not feel at all. The patriarchy isn’t just damaging to women. Men can end up trapped in this idea of “traditional masculinity,” but Drake is trying to break out.
In his new album, Views, Drake’s focus is split between typical rap machismo and getting into his feels. On the tracks that feature Drake’s feelings, like “With You,” “Controlla,” “Fire & Desire,” and “U With Me?” the rapper talks mostly about women and his complicated relationships with them. However, on tracks like “Pop Style” and “Still Here,” he boasts about his success and wealth.
While he strays from violence in his lyrics, he still raps about all the sex he claims to have and and brings in touches of misogyny here and there. In fact, he gives those traditional themes just enough attention to keep his masculine, “hard-core” persona credible. This allows his male fans a publically acceptable excuse to listen to his music as a whole, including more emotional songs that they might usually avoid for fear of being deemed “girly.”
How do these shifts between sensitive and “hard” work together on this album? While it may seem disjointed at first glance, Views as an artistic work is a commentary on the state of popular music and masculinity in today’s world.
Drake comes into play as a masculine figure in the traditionally male-dominated industry of rap music and a much-needed reprieve from the overwhelming misogyny and violence offered in rap of decades past. His genre of “emo-rap” is diverse and emotional, much like the psyches of the men listening to it.
Men are not feelingless brutes stomping around looking only for sex and food. Unfortunately, though, that’s the picture that traditional media has painted. Because of this, that is the ideal that men strive for, hiding all emotions and any part of their personality that could be considered feminine.
Much of mainstream media has dubbed Drake, and his fans, girly or feminine for giving attention to their feelings. Radio DJs, music critics, and memes have all scrutinized the rapper and his music’s subject matter, going as far as questioning his sexuality. In our society, we should be more aware of this kind of repression of masculinity. Allowing space for Drake, other rappers, and men of all other types to broaden our ideals of what men “should” be like can only be good for our generation.
Drake is the manifestation of a shift in these gender roles. His popularity shows that this generation of consumers is becoming more and more open to changing ideals.