Hints of F***boy—Why Drake's Album Could Have Used a Final and Necessary Edit
You are hiding a child.
Let that boy come home.
Deadbeat mothafucka' playing border patrol.
—Pusha T, Story of Adidon
It's hard to listen to Drake's latest release, Scorpion, without feeling the weight of Pusha T's Story of Adidon diss.
For those not familiar with Pusha T or the Story of Adidon—where have you been?! The takeaway is that Drake got bodied by Push and was accused of being a deadbeat dad to a secret child he had with a former adult film star. Push also compared Drake's father to Steve Harvey, made fun of the fact Drake's mom never found love again after his dad left her, alluded to Drake's deadbeat dad status being the result of his father's abandonment, and went so far as to target Drake's longtime friend, collaborator, and producer Noah Shebib's battle with Multiple Sclerosis.
Scorpion is familiar in that it includes a thematic who's who of all the usual suspects of themes that have become typical of Drake albums such as—not getting respect, demanding respect, not wanting a serious relationship, being sad about past serious relationships, tough-guy posturing, good-guy posturing, and, of course, peak-level (Drake-level) introspection.
What the album could use is the polished finish that has become the standard of Drake's music. The project feels unfinished and sloppy in a way we would not expect of a Drake release. It's nearly 90 minutes long, and the flow of the album often feels conflicted and contradictory. It's almost like we're given a look into the brain of a person who is arguing with themselves about their identity in a mirror.
In Survival, Drake talks about how he has "Malis" (people of Somali descent) willing to "pop" his enemies. On 8-10 he raps—
Never a matter of "could I?" or "should I?"
Kiss my son on the forehead then kiss your ass goodbye
As luck would have it, I've settled into my role as the good guy
I guess luck is on your side
The problem with this is that he literally rapped that he "can’t go 50/50 with no hoe" on I'm Upset, which is placed immediately before his "I've settled into my role as the good guy" claim on 8-10 and, ostensibly, is a jab at the mother of his newly-acknowledged son. I sometimes feel a little old when listening to music by Sound Cloud rappers and am starting to creep towards entering my thirties, but, I mean, come on; calling the mother of your son a "hoe" can't be considered a "good guy" move in any normative sense of what it means to be "good."
And this begs the question: is Drake actually an asshole and fuckboy?
Which is it? Is Drake the Degrassi child-star good-guy whose unreciprocated love for Rihanna got crushed when he was friend-zoned by the pop star on national television? Is he the guy who shoots a video that revolves around him thanking God while giving away one million dollars to complete strangers? Is he the guy who can be heard rap-singing on the 808's & Heartbreaks-esque beat as he pines over a woman who played games with his emotions (some believe this is a reference to Rihanna) on Summer Games—then proceeds to pine over another woman (who some believe to be singer Jorja Smith) on Jaded?
Or is he a guy who's not to be fucked with, has "Malis" that will pop you, and has street cred and what not.
Are these even mutually exclusive things? My take is that Drake is what some people have described as the "Fuck boy who says sorry" or the "softboy."
What Pusha T's Story of Adidon did was expose Drake as a softboy. I'm not sure where, exactly, the term originated, but I'm going to credit the term to Amanda Ross who published an article entitled, Beware the Softboy, the most sinister type of fuckboy. In the article, Ross explains:
"The Softboy is the most sinister breed of fuckboy because he thinks he's nice. Eventually, when woman after woman exposes him for the snake he is, he'll retreat into the shadows of Reddit to learn all about Red Pill theory and scold himself for being such a beta all these years. He'll blow up your phone with screenshots of the new guy you're dating, accompanied by texts that say things like, "So this is him, huh? LOL thought you were better than that. Guess not. You're like the rest." How dare you spurn him, a Nice Guy™ with his vinyl records and horn-rimmed glasses?"
Drake's been accused of being a softboy for years, but I think Pusha's diss confirmed what had been hearsay, speculation, and what was written-off as hating on the guy because he's rich and successful.
Reflecting on Drake's album, I'm reminded of an episode of How I Met Your Mother I once saw (full disclosure, I never finished the actual series because who has that kind of commitment, and it just wasn't my thing and didn't re-watch the episode—so apologies to true fans if I misremembered the episode) entitled Spoiler Alert. The general gist of the episode was about how there are certain things we all do that are annoying that can't be un-experienced or forgotten once they are pointed out by someone. That's basically what has happened here.
On the March 14 track Drake casts himself as the true victim in the tragedy of becoming a father. The song basically comes off as an "I never meant for things to happen like this" woe-is-me take on fathering a child with a woman he is not only no longer involved with but, per Drake's account, only slept with twice; the entire song really just comes off as inadvertent scapegoating for something the dude literally was at least fifty percent responsible for (arguably more than fifty percent, you know, because condoms).
He raps about being a single father, then he raps about talking to the child's mom and hearing how fast his son is growing, how he wishes he could see him more, and how his son hasn't met his grandfather yet—thereby implying he's not really a single father in the normative sense of what that means because he's not really raising the boy and, presumably, doesn't see him very much, which I think is fair to assume given that the song laments that he doesn't see his son more.
Meanwhile, Drake subliminally called his son's mom a "hoe" on I'm Upset, and later implied it again on a song about his struggles with fatherhood, where he also says he hopes that he'll be able to see his son more. The tone of the songs where Drake references fatherhood comes off as obtuse as it comes off narcissistic.
Prior to Pusha T's release, Drake's tracks, excluding the references to his son, would have just been taken as typical Drake songs about the plight of being rich and having lots of women who want to sleep with you because of your wealth.
They now listen as one dude's attempt to convince everyone that he isn't a deadbeat—while rapping about things that imply he is. While Drake is talented, no doubt, a final edit of his album could have helped his persona on this one.