Who’s Real?

Drake’s new “Best I Ever Had” video currently has the Internet goin’ nuts (and with good reason; Kanye discovered the real reason that slow-motion was invented and it wasn’t to watch LeBron James dunk a basketball.) But between repeated viewings of Coach Drake’s All-Stars getting crushed by the D, I’ve been glued to the viral videos that surfaced in the weeks before his big debut. The ones from when he was known as Aubrey or Wheelchair Jimmy instead of Drizzy that feature him hopping over puddles with his BFFs and arguing with his mom about tuna fish sandwiches. My initial reason for watching the throwback clips was to laugh at how corny the apparent prince of hip-hop used to be, but the more I watched, the more I got to thinking…

Is Drake the realest dude in rap right now?

Hear me out. The past decade, we’ve all had to suffer through the lies and subsequent exposures of rappers who put more work into their image than their rhymes. The list of fake thugs, Bloods, and king pins is too long to type, plus, I’m not trying to get “Ethered” in a YouTube-diss by any of these Internet gangsters or super-fans for naming names. So instead, I’ll just say that it’s kind of refreshing that a kid who used to get his spending money from Bar Mitzvah checks instead of alleged hand-to-hands actually has the loudest buzz in the game right now.

He’s not getting clowned for pushing a wheelchair and rocking a noble negro (YouTube it) cut on Degrassi because he’s not trying to act like that’s not him. We’ve all had some level of lameness in our pasts (granted, some of these videos are extra lame, and the preteen freak fest during his BET Awards performance still has me scratching my head.) But because he’s acknowledging it all instead of acting like he busts his gun, it doesn’t look like he’ll be getting Young Berg’ed anytime soon.

I realize that his realness may come from the fact that he has no choice in the matter. Unlike other former child stars who desperately beg for street cred when they decide they want to be grown (I said I wasn’t naming names) and gangsta rappers who think that their pasts of dating shows or law enforcement aren’t floating around somewhere in the Interwebs (no names!) Drake came into this knowing that he had to be himself. We’re well trained in seeing right through the Judas’s in the rap game these days. So there was no way that a Nickelodeon soap-opera star from the suburbs of Toronto could have made it this far if he wasn’t nice.

I’m not the biggest fan of Drake’s music, and others like Maino and Slaughterhouse also deserve credit for keeping some level of authenticity in the game, but I have to admit that I respect Drizzy’s grind and am glad that hip-hop’s next big thing realizes that it takes more swag to be yourself than to play a thug on a record. – Calvin Stovall

  • Black

    Good shit, i’ve always said that niggas like Drake and Kanye while soft are the realest niggas in the game. If your looking at the definition of real. However Slaughterhouse? The nigga joe budden pops so many imaginary guns in his raps and u can’t give him a pass cuz it’s “lyrical”. I’m a fan too but sometimes i listen to dude and think GTFOH!

    • ojthetruthman

      that bol byron crawford needs to take notes. real shit with no hating, just real talk. good drop.

      • dontworryboutit

        word his shit is always negative. that still my nigga thoug. but this is blog was like he said drake was: refreshin.

        nice post.

  • Chris Cash

    Ok but he’s not the only new cat that’s “real”
    what about guys like B.O.B, Fashawn, J.Cole or Kid Cudi. So the buzz to me is around his pop sound and the fact females like em.

    All these kids are being influenced by Kanye, because he was the first mainstream artist of this generation to become popular by being a so-called Gangter or Trap rapper. When you mix that with the ego and a fasion sense you got a whole grneration of ppl tryna be like him instead of a Common,Talib,Qtip.

    • Chris Cash

      Correction

      *by not being a so-called Gangster

    • Chris Cash

      Correction

      * by not being a so-called gangster

      • pe schola

        all those rappers you just named arent that good!!

    • SCRIZZ

      b.o.b. and j. cole should definitely get mentioned.. kid cudi on the other hand is simply a corny ass nigga a straight goofy but yea its a new era in rap niggas was talkin about that torch bein passed and now its officially happenin drake just happens to be the ringleader.. i remember on fade to black when jay said “u see this.. these niggas scared to be theyselves.” if you got skills forreal, grind and keep it 100 you gon blow

  • Tony Grand$

    I thought everyone knew that his career was over. I ethered him in the letter I wrote to him on my blog so I know that no one will be buying his CD now. I may have misspelled every other word on my blog, but I know that Drake read it and has retired since. You haven’t read it yet? You really should read my blog about him. Please tell me that you have read it. It is over for him.

    • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

      Y’all cats know who Grand$ is.

      But, he sure is giving my blog exposure today. Damn, on Rick Ross levels! Ha. This is like the second/third time today. First a shout out on Ron Mexico’s podcast, now this. A nigga couldn’t pay for this type of free publicity.

      Thanks homie. That’s most definitely what’s up.

      • Tony Grand$

        Seriously it is the best blog on the internet. I just got an e-mail from Young Money saying that Drake is despondent and depressed since reading the letter I wrote him full of my hate and jealousy due to the fact that he is making big money while I am begging people to read my world famous blog. Its only a matter of time before me and Pierzy are officially married, uh, I mean running this site too.

      • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

        “Let’s start with the (lack of) facial hair. I don’t know how many uncles you have, but it only takes one to tell you that people don’t trust a Black man without any.”

        ^^^ i thought i was the only one. thanx 4 clearing that up. u really gave him some ‘constructive criticism’ though. he could use some of that advice, i dont see why he’s depressed. he SHOULD send u a check & hire u as his manager, consultant, or something… i know ya’ll gone be doing BIG things in the future.

        • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

          @SOUTHSIDE

          Ha!

          Good looking, fam.

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com P!∑rzy

    He’s not the realest. He’s a pop act – no more, no less.

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    He’s not the realest. He’s a pop act – no more, no less…

    • Pierzy

      The only pop acts I like are Elton John and Moby

      • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

        and Dave Matthews Band!

        • Pierzy

          and Boy George of course

      • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

        Culture Club…definitely.

        • Pierzy

          Come on self, lets not forget how much we love Queen too, cuz we know we are the champion

  • donnyhustle

    yooo this shit is funny right here. its real as shit too tho. cats need to recognize that this rap shit is like the WWE most of the time and that the realest ones are the ones who aint yellin all that gangsta shit.

  • HNIC

    My name is HNIC, and I approve this post.

    Real talk! Cats are always complaining about how rappers never keep it real. Well, when we have a dude who isn’t trying to be the hardest drug dealing kingpin or gangsta extraordinaire, then we complain about that, too? Most of his detractors/haters have only heard his single; “Best I Ever Had” (Great video, aesthetically, by the way) & they immediately write him off, without listening to the man’s entire catalog, before dissing him. No, I’m not a Stan, but I do respect his hustle & his music. To me, it’s refreshing to see a young brother (even with him being Half-Rican), who can articulate clever rhymes, without “dumbing down” his cater to an audience who have the perception that to receive their approval for authenticity, you have to move weight or do a bid, behind bars. As if that was the measurement process to determine manhood.

    Kanye is one of the top selling artists, to date, & not once has he rapped about busting his guns &/or moving narcotics. So, apparently, there’s an audience out there whose reality transcends the confines of everyday hood life. There are many facets of being a young person of color in this country. So, we shouldn’t try to pigeon hold every rapper/entertainer into fitting a particular mold that was strategically created to cause the demise of our population, specifically. I know that we’re smarter than that.

    I’ll end my diatribe by saying that all of Drake’s naysayer’s should at least listen to his “So Far Gone” Mixtape, before hating just for the hating’s sake.

  • FLOSS

    Good drop and I agree it the one thing thats refreshing about the nigga cuz Brand New his Closer Freestyle and etc. is all some real shit if you disagree then fine but i fucks with Drake although i do agree with Syk that he got a momentum built by his labels before he even signed but the nigga is still a good artist.

    How can anyone call him pop if you aint heard So Far Gone then Pierzy i hope you doits cool music homes.

    • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

      I’ve heard it…I’ve given it a few listens and wasn’t impressed. No hate, just honesty…

  • latino heat

    i kept saying he was a goofy looking dude but after watching those videos now i know he really is a goofy ass dude. like if he really approached Meagan Good she would laugh and keep it pushing.
    if he would have came out with some gangsta shit someone would have exposed him asap and he would have been laughed right out of the game, Rick Ross style. he has no choice but to “keep it real.”

  • FLOSS

    @ Pierzy

    I can respect that my dude im sure theres artist that you like that i aint feeling but atleast you gave it a listen , now listen to it agian nigga LOL!! nah just fuckin wit you my dude LMAO!!!

    • Pierzy

      Its ok, I never really listened to it anyway. I just hate on all the new artists

  • thelonious

    I’ll admit, I hated on him first well because the affiliations with lil wayne. But I slowly realized the kid is real hands down. Artist don’t go into the studio saying, “I’m going to make a mainstream record” Damn sure they know what the media is going to portray it, but artist like Drake go into music with an approach the shows that the music is beyond real, my hat is off to him and the others in his class, J.Cole, Wale, Tanya Morgan, etc.

  • Tony Grand$

    I still think my blog on Drake was better. Oh well

  • http://whatwouldwesleydo.wordpress.com wrob4343

    For real I wish more cats did what he did on this. Like If you a thug be a thug, if you not then roll on out your normal ass nigga carpet and be normal. all this fakeness ruins everything

  • TQHR

    Well shit, if all it takes to be the realest man in hip hop is to not lie about your (well documented) past, then I’m getting ready to drop a record tomorrow. It’s true, there are alot of fake thugs in rap selling an image. Drake is still selling an image, though. Just because it’s the same image he’s been selling since he was a spoiled 13 year old doesn’t make him realer than anybody else. Respect is due for not trying to change his image, I suppose, but in no way does it make him the realest man in hip hop.

    Charles Hamilton is the realest man in hip hop, by those standards, because he has more embarrassing videos up than just about any other rapper, but he owns up to them all. He’s still doing the embarrassing shit, and still keeping it real about it.

  • Jamal7Mile

    Personally I was offended by the blatant exploitation of women in Drake’s video. I would have liked to have seen more of Drake instead. He has a real sweet voice

    • http://Xxl.mag Boitumelo makobela

      Hey sweet dis is de real world.,.dem gals chose to be in de vid no explotation took place..drake is de best rapper since mankind…al de way from south africa

  • vhingrhamesonyo’momma

    who the fuck likes reality? I don’t wanna hear bout no regular everday shit.I want a compelling story and a climatic ending and a suspenseful plot in my hip-hop coffee.I don’t pay for WWE royal rumble tickets to see the Big Show mash ere’body and easily take the belt, nooooo! I want teeny, tiny, shawn michaels to choke slam that sonofabitch! I pay for entertainment, so if a nigga wanna shoot a thousand mutha’fucka’s, duck indictments, fuck whateva loose vajay-jay is walkin and rap about it, bring it on! ENTER-FUCKIN_TAIN ME! We all need an escape from the mundane grips of our own reality so though I know these niggas is lyin’ like president bush possesed by president nixon we all to a certain degree want that fake shit.I applaud Drake for his authentic satire but I could really give a shit about him cryin over some lost mean vagin feel me? The music is okay but where’s the dramatics? If i’m lyin then why would you pick up 50′s,eminem’s,jay’s or anybody else’s shit?

  • vhingrhamesonyo’momma

    damn xxl fix this comment shit man! ain’t ya’ll gotta enough universal,interscope,atlantic bread to make shit at least work right? WTF?

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

    In the same vein as the “keeping it real” aspect, I think it would be easier to dislike him as a rapper if he was more like Wayne, i.e. “I’m the best rapper alive!”

    I do think he’s pop-ish, but there’s hundreds of dudes who are worse than him. On top of the fact that there’s no escape. Hip Hop as a whole tends to turn away from force-fed product(s).

    Now, he has notoriety, fame, money (I assume), so he can afford to show any naysayers that he deserves his spot.

    Time will tell.

    • Tony Grand$

      Besides I found out Drake never really did read my letter. It was only Pierzy pretending to be Drake to cheer me up

      • u a riot son

        jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa..stop mayne, u b crackin me up wit dese fake posts tho….r u g-unot killa?

  • Max Mack

    You know, I really don’t like Drake all that much. His most recent mixtape was boring, and he’s okay, sometimes sounds like an educated Lil Wayne, but after reading this, you do make a good point. He deserves some respect for being real about his past. Nothing gets me more steamed than seeing some fake ass motherfucker reppin his hood, when he probably grew up in some town that was a couple miles away from the inner city. You never get a respectable rapper from Canada who used to be on Degrassi nowadays. Or ever really…

  • VdotTdot

    Now Im far from Drake’s biggest fan…or even a fan for that matter…but I do respect the guy because, like you said, he’s real. He might not be the most talented cat out there right now, but the dude stays on his grind and stays tru to himself. Its nice to hear rappers RAP. The kid is raw at this point, but I can see him having a nice career when its all said and done.

  • Courtney Renee Harris

    I agree, its kinda refreshing to see someone who is just like everyone else, not trying to be something they arent or being the typical gang banger, hard, rapper. Hes real and I think thats why the people appreciate the music so much. Good Job Calvin ;-) Keep Doing Your Thing…

  • http://thetopaztimes.blogspot.com Topaz

    This post embodies why rappers should be thankful for people like Drake and Ye. Hip Hop music and the culture in itself sadly revolves heavily around trends, so it’s great to see the artists of this generation being pioneers. By using their approach to music they make being yourself cool and allow other rappers to try new, more creative things. Honestly these days it’s hard to respect rappers who limit themselves to speaking about guns and drugs. I’m glad to see others who can appreciate the modern “Great Awakening” of rap taking place.

    ~Topaz Jones~

  • Cannnonnn

    that byron dude needs to take notes, this is a real blog. great read. and youre right.

  • CL

    Go download Drake’s Mixtape “Comeback Season” and holla back…the dude can spit.

  • El Tico Loco

    I appreciate cats like Drake and Kanye and so on being true to themselves not taking anything away from that, after all they do represent a group of kids that at one point wouldn’t have been hip hop fans, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that they still douchebags.

  • Coshon Chill a. Chill

    ive paid a lot of attention to drake’s pre rap career. it just makes me skeptical on whether to credit him as a good multi-talented rapper, or di-credit him as a lame. agree with me or not, but its hard to decipher these things these days.

  • Coshon Chill A. Chill

    and i appreciated the comeback season mixtape. i feel like it was the “realer” drake.

    go download the ” room for improvement ” mixtape.its tough.

  • SOUTHSIDE A-TOWN

    i like this post. i agree with about everything u said up top. except for saying he’s the, REALEST??? but he’s definitely being himself, & it seems to be paying off. he should stick to dis script & stay in his lane. & he will reach success (but not that much, too much’ll kill ya). lol.

  • http://xxlmag.com Ben

    XXL bloggers suck, Drake is pop he is not hip hop, he uses hiphop as his vehicle, but he is pop, pushed by the machine period, get off his dick.

    • HNIC

      No disrespect, Ben, but, just because he doesn’t subscribe to your brand of “real hip hop”, doesn’t make him any less hip hop. The pioneers who founded this rap shit were undoubtedly party rappers/entertainers, first & foremost. In fact, Will Smith/Fresh Prince won the very first Grammy that was given to this genre. Is he not hip hop?

      • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com Tony Grand$

        Co-sign HNIC.

        Hip Hop is a way of life. Just because he doesn’t represent some one-sided POV doesn’t mean he’s not part of the culture/generation that comprise it.

        Rap is a genre of music. Hip His is the cultural surroundings based off of said music (& another 4 elements).

        Pop-rap is obviously a legitimate & viable sub-genre. Just look around us.

        • HNIC

          Good lookin’ out, Grand$! Great minds, man… great minds.

        • $ykotic

          But check this out:

          What Ben is saying is pretty much what the majority out there is saying on the ‘net.

          Canada’s new man is suffering from OVEREXPOSURE.

          You can’t force feed veggies on a kid that likes jolly ranchers and Pepsi.

        • HNIC

          I can understand your analogy. Point taken. However, kids are meant to eventually become adults who form more mature tastes. As an Adult, I can now respect the nutritional values contained within broccoli & carrots, when, as a child, I couldn’t. Ya dig? I’m not trying to get anyone to convert/conform to my train of thought, that’s tiresome & futile, in most cases. I’d never be accused of being anyone’s martyr.

          I’m simply saying that if your thought process is rational (as a consumer), you should consider every aspect of something, before making a final decision on that subject matter. Our ability to think critically & reason separates us from primates. (And, of course, our opposable thumbs.)

          In hip hop, you’re required, or at least you should be required, to be able to decipher the meaning/nature of the artists prose, beyond what is presented on the surface. Otherwise, we’re just making the nonsensical noise that our elders & people in opposition, outside of the genre/culture, perceive it to be.

          I can agree that his marketing campaign has been on overdrive, the past few months. But, that’s also a testimony on how talented Drake is. No? If they (Industry Execs.) didn’t believe in the marketability & future profitability of what Drake is producing, I’m certain that they wouldn’t be promoting him the way that they are. Again, you can subscribe to any point of view that you choose to have. I can respect that. I’m simply suggesting that you give him a fair listen, before concluding that he isn’t hip hop. If you’ve done that, and if you still don’t like him. That’s cool. Life goes on.

      • El Tico Loco

        HNIC

        While the earlier rappers were party rappers that just happened to be the only lane at one point and not what program directors felt we needed to hear. Many styles have evolved since those days, so why the machine is only pushing the subpar party rappers? Will Smith used to tour with Public Enemy and LL so nobody’s taste was left out, that’s hiphop you gonna like it or hate it, now is all so divided and us fans did not create that division. Plus the whole issue here too is that everybody was trying their best, and you can feel when somebody is trying their best or just cruisin (that goes for this crop of rappers too). So you can’t be throwing the older rappers or “real hiphoppers” and make it seem like is bad thing cuz is not, all forms of hiphop should have the same shine cuz is all good, but Drake is a pop artist that happens to rap, if you give him a pass Fred Durst should get a pass too.

    • NAWLEDGE

      I seriously dont see what makes Drake so lame or fake. The dude was an actor. SO WHAT??

      Fredo Starr was on Moesha, Will Smith did a multitude of movies not to mention The Fresh Prince, 2Pac was in several movies and did BALLET!!

      Pac aint real now?!

      I cosign the author of this blog. Drake aint hidin his actin past and thats some real shit to do.

      • El Tico Loco

        Everybody you mentioned have paid dues in the rap game, they just didn’t come outta nowhere all big. We know what Will, Pac, and Fredro have done in and out the booth, there’s no fakin in that, Drake was an actor first big deal, so was Mos Def and Lauryn Hill (Guiding Light), but they broke into the industry, in Drake’s case the industry broke him so is not about real or fake but who brought who out and his case is very transparent.

  • Courtney Renee Harris

    I wrote this sooo long ago and it didnt post.

    But I totally agree, its so good to see someone whose real and not trying to be something they aren’t or someone who isnt doing the “right thing”. Nice article. Keep doing your thing! =)

  • Mykal Jaxsun

    I’M TYPING THIS IN CAPS TO GET THROUGH TO XXL. I SHOULD BLOG FOR YOU. I SPEAK THE TRUTH AND IT’S SIMPLE. BEST RAPPERS, COOLEST RAPPERS, BEST DRESSED RAPPERS HE IS NOT BUT 50 CENT IS THE REALEST RAPPER IN HIP-HOP. HIS MOM SOLD CRACK, MAYBE KILLED BY PREME WHEN HE WAS 12. HE GREW UP TO GO AGAINST PREME AND HIS (PARDON ME ja) mpire lol. AND HE BECOME RICH AND HAS MAINTAINED HIS STORY AND MADE A MOVIE ABOUT IT EXACTLY JUST LIKE EMINEM AND ONLY LIKE EMINEM. HE STUCK TO HIS SCRIPT, MAYBE WHY HE STURGGLING NOW BECAUSE THAT DUDE WILL NOT CHANGE WHO HE IS. I DOWNLOADED 50 CENT IS THE FUTURE TODAY BECAUSE I HAD NOT HEARD IT IN A WHILE AND HE WAS RIGHT. HE CREATED MIXTAPES, DUDE JUST IS REAL. HE’S NOT ROSS, OR PLIES OR ALFAMEGA OR EVEN GAYME (WHY GO AT JIGGA N*&%A?) 50 IS THE REALEST.

  • Diligent

    I’m glad that you clarified at the end that he is not necessarily talented, but he is at least not fakin the funk like the majority of hip hop artists around today.

    Very similarly, and some may not agree, but I feel that Jay-Z isn’t a talented rapper anymore. Yet I respect him as a business man (a business… man) and all of the other things he is doing to be classy, smart, and cool with his massive amounts of money.

  • DJRetroJeff

    First off, good read. I do enjoy listening to artists who are themselves like Kanye, Drake, Wale, or Little Brother. I can often relate to what they’re talking about because most if the time its the truth and everyday shit. That’s not to say I don’t listen to Raekwon, Clipse, or Nas when I know that a lotta the stuff they’re talking about they never did or don’t do anymore. It’s hip hop which is entertainment, if someone can tell me a story on some hood shit I’m going to listen.

  • yessir

    XXLMAG, you gotta put this quote as one of your
    STEP YOUR GAME UP.

    Artist: Ace Hood
    Track #: 7
    Verse: “I’m cold like coronas in a case”

  • doc

    ok calvin! i liked this very entertaining man. you gotta a gift and i must say just like all the other “ive been done with drake since degrassi” =)

  • yupyup

    has rap music blinded us so much that we now praise illegal activity? what”sw worse: a rapper that’s done all the negativity that he raps about, or the one lies about doing it? actions speak louder than words. it’s definitely better for the black community that most rappers lie about being drug dealers, pimps and murderers than the ones that “keep it real” in their songs aqnd have actually done it

  • SmokinAces

    What exactly makes Drake pop besides the fact that he’s popular? I keep seeing that word get thrown around but i’m having a hard time figuring out why being popular and making popular music is bad? it’s not like his skills as an mc are diminished because chicks like him. And I’ve never heard of a rapper who had the ability to make big records say they’re rather be broke and “keep it real”.

  • Brooklyn

    Drake is frank about his past because he has to be, there’s a TV show that comes on every Friday night that documents that for X amount of years he was the archetypal non-threatening light skinned Negro that Canadians felt comfortable allowing into their homes. Trust, if dude wasn’t on a TV show he’d be like every other rapper talking about how much drugs he sold on Toronto’s Southside and how many guns he busted. It’s not like only a few people know he was an actor before, this nigga is on a show that airs in like…five countries.

    Furthermore, Drake is popular because of that show, because most of his fans come from the demographic that his show was geared towards. Being a pop artist in and of itself isn’t bad, especially when you had to struggle and fight to get there. Being a pop artist based on the fact that you’re a mediocre musician but you have a fan base where the majority of them like you not for what or how you spit, but because they liked you on some stupid adolescent soap opera is fucked up. The reason why I dislike Drake is not because he’s popular, but because he didn’t really earn his popularity as far as I’m concerned. I listened to several of dude’s songs and I was unimpressed. He’s ok, he’s better than some, but niggas be acting like he’s the second coming of Christ or something.