Last year, while hosting Saturday Night Live, Drake sadly crooned that he is "more than a meme." And he's right — he's an actor, a rapper, and a burgeoning television producer. Aubrey Graham does a lot of things. But he's also a meme. Drake is actually many memes. And that is totally OK, because memes are a form of cultural currency that allows us to relate to one another by pinpointing moments that all we experience in otherwise isolated moments. Plus, they're hilarious, no matter how deep they go.
2017 couldn't end without gifting us a brand new Drake meme, and bless us all for this pop culture gift. At yesterday's Toronto Rapters game, he was seen on the Jumbotron screen anxiously pouring a can of Perrier soda water into a a plastic cup. As he realizes he's being shown on the screen, his eyes dart around nervously — clearly, Drake was not prepared for this moment to be seen by the entire stadium (and of course, now, the entire planet).
Drizzy, in this sense, is all of us, caught in a moment of unplanned broadcast, before we've had a chance to blot the oil off our face. He is us when our name is called over the loudspeaker at school. He is us when we're at a party and someone starts talking to us while we're huddled over the little food table. There are a million ways we can relate to the latest Drake meme, but it represents only one moment in his life.
What makes Drake such rich meme material? Without a doubt, it's his pure earnestness. In his SNL song, he acknowledges that his face is particularly expressive. Drake flashes a huge smile that could light up a room, he claps for his beloved Raptors with unmatched enthusiasm. It's a strange quality for a Scorpio, but Drake has never shied away from the fact that he is a wellspring of emotions. October's Very Own is mysterious, in that we rarely get a glimpse of the "true" Drake, but we almost always know how he's feeling about something.
In 2014, comedian Desus Nice pondered this very question. He told Ray Downs at Noisey that Drake "started as an easy target for memes, realized the social value of being a piece of content, and started creating situations/photos that he knew social media would devour." Our world is now explained back to us via endless content, which is fine — that's not a criticism, it's an observation — and memes are one way that things, particularly emotions, are relayed back to us.
When we weren't looking, Drake has embraced corniness as an aesthetic value and made it into a rapper's vibe. He doesn't care that he's been called the softest rapper in the game because he's from a land where their politeness is a worldwide punchline. Drizzy embraces it. He looks at us, with that signature pout thing that looks vaguely unnatural on his face, and says "you can't taunt me with my feelings, because I already taunt myself."
By playing the part of the tortured, emo everyman in a turtleneck, he opens himself up to our projections. The Perrier pouring meme calls to us because the journey on Drake's face mirrors everything we're grappling with in Trump's world. Nervous? Uh, yes. Disoriented? Very much so, especially if you follow the news. Slightly panicked? Only every day of our lives. In the end, Drake memes say a lot more about how we're all feeling these days.