From R&B Rapper to the 6 God

Drake is not considered the most hardcore rapper in the game, but multiple beefs, the weight of fame, and his Toronto roots has sparked a notable evolution in his style as his reign continues.

Initially making his breakthrough with his 2009 mixtape So Far Gone, Drake turned the heads of hip hop fans with his R&B-influenced sound and sentimental lyrical content atypical of the materialistic or violent themes common in rap music up to that point. He vowed to ignore diss tracks towards him and said in an interview with Rap Radar that making full blown R&B music for girls is “wavy,” disregarding any criticism of his music as being too emotional. Nevertheless, there’s been a notable shift in his persona into a cockier and aggressive attitude as he controls his status as the alpha male in hip hop today, dealing with beefs against rappers such as Pusha T, and bringing his hometown of Toronto into pop culture prominence.

The Transition

An early indicator of this transition would be the track “The Resistance” from his 2010 debut album Thank Me Later. He raps, “Maybe it was the fast pace switch up, or the two guns in my face during the stick up/ Maybe cause a girl I thought I trusted, was who set the whole sh*t up,” referencing a 2009 robbery in Toronto in which he was a victim of. This incident, which occurred during his rise to fame as an artist, is a harsh reminder of his vulnerability as a public figure and target in a city known as “the Screwface Capital” for its hostilities between artists.

Another early sign of this change would be on the Rick Ross collaboration “Stay Schemin”, in which he raps “It bothers me when the gods get to actin like like broads, guess every team doesn’t come complete with n*ggas like ours/ That’s why I see no need to compete with n*ggas like y’all, I just ask that when you see me you speak up, n*gga, that’s all.” The significance of this song is the fact that this is Drake’s first overt response to a diss, that being “Sweet” by rap legend Common. Drake’s blunt claim of softness from his rival exudes a disgust similar to that a kingpin would make towards his rivals in a war.

A significant track which almost single-handedly marks the full change is his 2013 track “ 6 AM In Toronto”, in which he raps “The part I love the most is they need me more than they hate me, so they never take shots I got everybody on safety/ I could load every gun with bullets that fire backwards, probably wouldn’t lose a single rapper/ n*ggas make threats can’t hear em over over the laughter, yeah that’s cause I’m headed to the bank, n*gga.” At this point, Drizzy is the king of the rap game with two #1 albums in Thank Me Later and 2011’s Take Care, so he relishes the opportunity to flex on his opposition. He also raps “Cause I show love never get the same outta n*ggas, guess it’s funny how money can make change outta n*ggas/ For real some nobody start feelin himself, a couple nobodies started killin themself/ A couple albums dropped those are still on the shelf, I bet them sh*ts would have popped if I was willing to help.” That nobody he’s referring to is alleged to be R&B singer The Weeknd, who collaborated with him on Take Care and declined a deal with his label OVO Sound. In an interview with Complex, Abel denies any beef, explaining, “The thing about Drake is I told him what my decisions were going to be. And he was down with it from the beginning.”

The 6 God

With the release of his project If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late in 2015, Drake adapted his sound to fit his throne. With dark and trap-influenced production by long-time producer Boi-1da and lyrics about having enemies and dying as a legend, it seems as if he’s not afraid to keep his foot on the rap games’ neck. On Know Yourself, he raps “Reps Up is in here/ Got P Reign and Chubby and TJ and Winnie and whoa.” At this point, Drake starts to openly rep his Toronto roots, including the norm of having a crew around like other rappers. In particular, he shouts out his longtime friend P. Reign and his group Reps Up. Reign has acknowledged the group’s upbringing in the ghettos of the city and past hardships such as drug dealing and gun possession.

In subsequent projects, Drake has continued to flex his affiliation with street-based figures, especially in times when he’s faced with serious hostility from other rappers. In Mob Ties off Scorpion, he raps “I f*ck with the mob and I got ties/ Knock you off to pay their tithes”, a reference to his associate and famed Houston rap mogul J. Prince whose story sounds like a mafia story within hip hop and interfered in the feud with Pusha T and Kanye West in 2018.

Another notable reference is in War on Dark Lane Demo Tapes with the line “Feds wanna tap up man and wire up man like Chubbs did Detail.” This is a nod to his bodyguard and Reps Up affiliate Chubbs, who got into an altercation and legal battle with producer Detail in 2014. 

It is quite clear that we’ve come quite far from listening to Drake rapping about his favorite look on girls to keeping a pistol by his side for the opposition. We may still feel familiar with his sentimental side, but he reminds us he’s not someone to mess with.

Written By: Kristian Gonzales

Photo Source: Vibe




New Electronic Music Discoveries

Check out these tunes if you like electronic dance music.

In this blog, I’m going to highlight electronic music that has recently been released, as well as those that are soon to be. Mark your calendars and open your music libraries because you will definitely find some good music in here!

Upside down (feat. Grouplove) – Whethan, Grouplove

I love Whethan and I love his new song! It’s definitely a happy beat to listen to.

Get By – Medasin, Cautious Clay

This was the first single released from Medasin’s upcoming album. I really love the vibe of this song, and how Medasin and Cautious Clay combined their sounds into it.

“Es Isso” – Habstrakt, Asdek

If you like bass house, you’ll love Habstrakt’s new song! It definitely gets you hype.

Free Your Mind – Big Gigantic

I really love Big Gigantic’s new album! It is so pretty and highlights Big Gigantic completely. Definitely give it a listen!

“Every Color” (with Foster the People) – Louis the Child, Foster the People

I really liked this song. I like the collaboration between these two artists, because they fit together! Foster the People and future bass are an awesome combo.

“Never The Same” – STRFKR

This song is definitely a chill vibe. One of my new favorites.

“Ghosts” (feat. Hana) – Tchami, HANA and “Proud” (feat. Daecolm) – Tchami, Daecolm

Tchami is one of my all-time favorite house music artists. Both of these songs are so good and I’ve listened to them nonstop! Check these out if you love house music vibes.

RIPPLS – Medasin (album released March 6)

Medasin comes out with his new album RIPPLS on March 6! I read other people’s tweets reacting over his listening premiere and they have only good things to say about it. I am excited to see his creativity and soul projected in this album.

“The Difference” – Flume, Toro y Moi (song released March 11)

For those of you that don’t know, Flume is my absolute favorite electronic music artist. I am so excited to see what he has to show us with this new song — I heard it was drum and bass!

I hope some of these songs have expanded your music library! Check out these artists for some awesome new music.

Written by: Alexandra Gex

Time to Read

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” This quote by author and activist James Baldwin has altered the way that I view reading. What was once an activity that I lost passion for after being overwhelmed by reading for school, became essential to the path of developing greater compassion for others and myself.

Slow Down and Read

For many people, especially students, reading can feel like extra work that’s adding to our already busy schedules. We are used to moving fast in a world that’s filled with instant gratification, so taking part in the slow process of reading can be difficult. When I finally forced myself to read during my free time, I learned about how rewarding the experience can be. I have connected with characters who have very different lives from my own, which allowed me to figure out that one does not have to have the same life as me in order for us to understand each other. Through reading, I have gained more compassion for people living with mental illness, incarcerated people, the lonely, the afraid, and those who are confused about their place on this Earth. These circumstances and feelings are often not talked about, which can cause us to forget about people who experience them or if we are the person experiencing them then we feel like we’re alone in our struggles. Reading helps us recognize others while feeling known.

People of Color have Stories too

As a person of color, I often felt frustrated by reading stories about people of color but told through a white lens. Although people of color have our own individual experiences, we have more personal insight on issues that people outside of our communities do not have. I recently began to read books by Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. Their books didn’t simply tell me that “racism is bad,” something that I already knew, but they put words to the pains of being a Black woman, they guided me to feel my resilience that was sent down to me from past generations, and they helped me to know that I exist beyond oppression. Angelou and Morrison are two important figures who made room for other writers of color to tell our stories, but our stories are often still placed in the shadows. In order to prevent this from continuing to happen, we must uplift writers of color, which is what Noname’s Book Club is doing

Noname’s Book Club

Noname is a rapper from Chicago who started the book club to elevate the voices of people of color. Each month, two books by writers of color are selected and participants in the book club are strongly encouraged to access the books through libraries and local bookstores, rather than supporting large and exploitive corporations. The book club has an online community, but the goal is to have in-person discussions and to build chapters in various communities, including prisons. I have been the owner of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis book, but I never took the time to read it until I saw that it was selected by the book club. Before reading Persepolis, Iran seemed like a distant place that I would never know anything about. After reading Persepolis, I began to care deeply about Iran and the people who call the country home. This shows another reason, and possibly one of the most important reasons, for the necessity of reading: in a world pervaded by apathy, reading forces us to care. 

Written By: Maya Dixon
Photo by: Catapult

Peep This Joint: Royce Da 5’9” – The Allegory Album Review

After reflecting on his life in the highly introspective, soul-baring album, The Book of Ryan, in 2018, rap veteran Royce Da 5’9’’ focuses his newest effort, The Allegory, on looking outwards and providing philosophical commentary on society at large. 

In an interview with legendary Los Angeles radio host, Big Boy, Royce explained the origins of the album title, revealing it as a direct reference to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

“The album speaks a lot about perspective, I’m intrigued by perspective these days,” Royce said. “It’s amazing to me that two people could be looking at the same thing and seeing two totally different things, and each thing being their respective truth.”

With this project marking his eighth studio album, the Detroit emcee enlists a myriad of rappers to help push the album’s focus on perspective. The Allegory runs for a little over an hour with 22 tracks total of dense lyricism and philosophical messages meant to question the listener’s current perspective on reality.

In the rap game, Royce is best known as a top-tier lyricist and storyteller. But in this project, he switches things up by producing every track on the album. Considering that he has only recently started producing beats with his first credit on Eminem’s newest album, this is an ambitious feat that deserves its own applause.

The album opens up with the song, “Mr. Grace (Intro)” where a sample of a a father teaching his daughter financial literacy is played. Lines such as “If I gave you a million dollars right now, would you buy candy or a candy store? A candy store,” and “If I gave you something for 500, and you flip it to the next man for 2000, what is that called? Upselling” indicate Royce’s invitation to listeners to question their perspective on America’s lack of financial curriculum for its children.

He confirms this later on in his verse the repercussions of this lack of literacy rapping, “But this is America, where credit is for the privileged and profit is not my amenity.” In this line it’s clear to see that Royce is targeting the oppressors, namely rich white businessman who maintain the racist status quo of oppressing minorities.

A standout track of the album is the song, “Upside Down feat. Ashley Sorrell & Benny The Butcher.” As the fourth single of the album, Royce and rising New York rapper Benny The Butcher lay down a lyrically he avy tirade against the aforementioned oppressors. With Royce rapping, “White kids graduate to relationships with a ton of perks / Black kids, just aggravated and had to take a ton of Percs,” it’s clear to see the frustration he holds over the lack of equity in today’s status quo. Benny The Butcher voices similar frustrations rapping, “Young heathens clap tools over VVS jewels / White kids pull heaters at school, wanna CBS News.”

For a rapper with one of the most sharpest pens in the game, the production throughout the album never seems too boring or stale, despite the heavy reliance of sampling and boom-bap drums. The eclectic use of a wide range of samples such as Kool & the Gang’s funky hit, “Sunny Madness” in the song, “Dope Man” or the soulful crooning of The Linton’s “Lost Love” in “Overcomer” shows the hard work Royce put in before showcasing his work to the world. It ultimately pays off with an impressive production quality not typically found in rappers who decide to dip their toes into beat-making, especially one capable of such high caliber lyricism.

Overall, The Allegory proves that Royce’s pen is still sharp as ever and showcases his new production skills in this self-produced album. If you’re itching to hear some hard hitting bars that’ll have you reflecting on your own perspective, I suggest that you peep this joint out!

Rating: 8/10

Written by: Johann Oribello