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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

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