Drake - 'Over'
Modern hip hop is a strange beast, is it not? Still a divisive force among music fans, still pushing at the outer reaches of what is sonically acceptable, and still scaring the bejesus out of anyone who wishes to take each lyric at face value. And it has made even stranger beasts of the rappers who would be kings.
Once upon a time, your rapper's main job was to express one thought, in a kaleidescopically different series of ways, and that thought was "I AM BETTER THAN YOU."
He (or she) could do it scarily, or thuggishly, or funnily, or happily, or grumpily, or bashfully, or even dopily, but that's really all he had to try and say.
(Here's the video, which seems to have been filmed in a hotel room in a cinema.)
Nowadays there's a lot more to get out there. You can't just beat people over the head with your astonishing wonderfulness, you need to show them you're a real person too, and this has forced rappers to write and say things which cross the line from bragging into maniacal self-obsession.
Drake knows this isn't really real. He knows it because he's a clever man, and he also knows that if you want to beat your rivals, you've got to act like you've already won. This is why he's making songs which detail how thankful he is for the astonishing talent he has. How he knows everyone else would like to be as fantastic as he is, but they're not, he is. It's not something he likes to go on and on about, but basically he's better than us, and as a result of which, we're clearly all [a rude word].
But being this fantastic isn't plain sailing. Drake wants us all to understand that he's a bit overwhelmed, that he keeps meeting people who just want to tell him how brilliant he is, and he can't really be expected to keep tabs on all of them, can he? Yesyesyes, apart from all of the hot ladies, naturally.
So, here's Drake, rapping about his strengths, but also his weaknesses. He's a powerful force - possibly the MOST powerful force - but he's as caught up in his own talent as everyone else is. He's active and passive at the same time. And as listeners we're expected to worship him and feel sorry for him, and all the while he's calling us names. See what I mean about strange beasts?
Just as well Boi-1da and Al Khaaliq's regal, sweeping production makes the journey such a pleasant one, or this is one Drake who'd find himself back in the duck pond before the third verse drops.