Actually, Drake Has A Long History Of “Nice Guy” Misogyny

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images.
On Friday, November 4, Drake threw the timeline into a tizzy with the release of Her Loss, a 16-song joint project with friend and fellow rapper 21 Savage. What could have been a conversation about Drake’s lyricism and chemistry with almost everyone in the rap game (the guy knows how to collaborate, I’ll give him that) turned into a necessary discourse about his observed history of being problematic towards Black women, spurred by an uncalled bar at Megan thee Stallion’s expense. Even though his target is new, this is textbook Drake, and we can’t afford to keep letting his brand of petty misogyny slide. 
Her Loss sees Drake pivot back to rap after making a brief (and controversial) stop in the house genre with Honestly, Nevermind. If you’re a fan of the Toronto rapper’s discography, from the rookie hunger of So Far Gone to the familiar sad boi tears of Take Care, you’ll probably like this new project; Drake is completely in his bag as a rapper. But being in that pocket means that the toxicity that we’ve come to expect from the Nice Guy of Rap is also inevitable. Drake doesn’t waste any time with the disrespect on “Circo Loco.” Before we can even get into the song, he kills the vibe with a strange and very callous line that many are identifying as shade to Megan thee Stallion. “This bitch lie ‘bout gettin’ shots, but she still a stallion,” raps Drake. “She don’t even get the joke, but she still smilin’.”
In 2020, Megan made headlines after being involved in a high profile shooting in Los Angeles Hills. During a verbal altercation with former friend and musician Tory Lanez, she was allegedly shot in the foot; later, Megan revealed that Lanez was the assailant. The incident led to an intense legal battle as the Los Angeles district attorney’s office charged Lanez with felony weapons and assault charges that could land him in prison for up to 23 years. In the time that followed the shooting, Megan has been candid about the intense emotional and mental toll that the experience has had on her, heightened by the disbelief and victim-blaming from both her peers in the music industry and the public alike.
After initially assuring fans that Drake’s verse was not about her, Megan returned to Twitter with a strongly worded message for him and anyone else who wants to speak on the shooting, pointing out how unfortunate it was that so many rappers made light about it.
“Stop using my shooting for clout,” Megan tweeted just hours after Her Loss dropped on streaming platforms. “Since when tf is it cool to joke abt women getting shot!”
Knowing what we know about the shooting as well as the bevy of unrelated issues that Lanez has found himself in following the incident, it’s hard not to support Megan. Yet Drake still thinks it's appropriate somehow to poke fun at what could have been a fatal situation. Let Team OVO tell it, the bar is no big deal. They’re claiming that he’s rapping about his latest paramour getting butt injections so that she can become a stallion, the southern slang describing a woman who is both tall and thick (like Megan). But we know better — this is Drake picking a side. And, as usual, the side isn’t the woman’s.
Her Loss is just the most recent example of who Drake is; the album’s title itself suggests that Drake believes himself to be the prize, a gift to any and all women who should live with remorse for losing him. He’s always been like this, a self-described certified lover boy who can easily become a hellion on a whim if he doesn’t get his way. Lovebombing and gaslighting are his signature moves, evident on tracks like “Diamonds Dancing” (“Ungrateful…I’m too good for you”) and “Jaded” (“Low, down, dirty, shameful, crazy”) where he is more than eager to put women in their place. And he’s weird in real life, too. Remember his over-the-top declaration of love towards Rihanna at the 2016 MTV VMAs, a moment that should have been all about her that he chose to make about himself? Or the disturbing reveal that he had been texting Millie Bobby Brown and Billie Eilish, who were just teenagers at the time? Or his continued obsession with Aaliyah while also crediting her abuser? Or, on Her Loss, calling Serena Williams’ devoted husband Alexis Ohanian a “groupie” unprovoked despite being the real groupie himself? (The North remembers, Aubrey.) 
I’ve been a Drake fan since Take Care because his heartbreak and moodiness spoke to me in the midst of one of my most trying romantic relationships; Stevie Wonder’s soulful harmonica on “Doing It Wrong” was the soundtrack to my freshman year of college. More than the music being good, there was something delightful about his command of pop culture, and of his awareness of his place within the cultural zeitgeist. He knows who he is and who we want him to be, and he owns it all. So yeah, I stuck by Drake when the crowds turned against him, when people consistently (and rightfully) called him “corny,” when Pusha T broke the news of his secret child, when he was beefing with Meek Mill and Kanye West — even when he started growing out his S-curl. But the older I get, and the more I know about the world, I can’t listen to his music without a gnawing discomfort in the back of my mind. Try as I might, I can’t separate myself from the numerous exes he’s berating or from the good girls gone bad that he’s personally tasked himself with “saving.” In running up his streams on Spotify, I’m co-signing those antics, telling Drake that what he’s doing and saying is perfectly acceptable when it isn't. 
The idea of “cancelling” Drake has been brought up in light of Her Loss and his history of nice guy misogyny. Unfortunately, like many in his industry and in the world at large, it isn’t actually that easy because people will always make excuses as to why Drake’s behaviour doesn’t warrant being thrown into the cultural void and forgotten. Even if there are some willing to put him on no-stream list alongside people like R-Kelly, Kanye West, and Trey Songz, it’s bigger than just him; it’s about a culture that seeks to diminish and demean Black women by any means necessary. There’s a reason why the biggest male rappers are also known for having some of the most misogynistic lyrics and why the culture tends to look the other way, but at the same time be so critical of the women in hip-hop (like Cardi B) fighting back against hate by demonstrating agency over their lives. The culture is quick to call female rappers liars, sluts, and gold-diggers, hating them while simultaneously desiring them, pitting them against each other, trying to bring them emotional, mental, and physical harm — it’s all part of this sick, dangerous game. That’s what makes Drake’s brand of misogynoir especially vicious. This is a guy who’s calculated about his persona in every single way, someone who’s projecting a character. Whether it’s via Drake the Nice Guy or Drake the Demon, the behaviour is intentional. He knows better but just doesn’t want to be better. 
There’s no denying it: Drake is a star. But he’s also kind of a supervillain using his powers and his platform to constantly attack women, the very same women that he claims to love so much. We have to be honest about who he is and the level of damage that his actions may have caused over time — and why we’ve looked the other way for so long. If Drake has always put out misogynist music, what does our continued support of him despite those antics say about us?
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