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Drake Rides Too Short's Wave on "For Free"

Drake once again finds himself in that grey area between theft and tribute by quoting Bay legend Too Short on his new song.

At this point it's a game, hip-hop's version of Guess Who? Every time a new Drake song drops, you try to name the new wave he's riding. Is he making sure his name rings out in the clubs alongside the club's current king, Future? Is he remixing "Cha Cha" without actually remixing "Cha Cha"? Is he making sure his Toronto credentials go unquestioned by naming a song after Weston Road while simultaneously name dropping Warriors players to hitch his wagon to the NBA favorites? 

The Wave Game ended quickly with Drake's new song "For Free," which is technically a DJ Khaled song featuring Drake, but you know how that goes. Right off the bat Drizzy drops some lyrics that, using Twitter as a national poll, a lot of people assume he wrote, but anyone from the Bay Area or who was listening to national hip-hop radio circa 2006 instantly recognized as Too Short's "Blow the Whistle." 

I go on and on / Can't understand how I last so long / I must have super powers / Rap 225 thousand hours" - Too Short's "Blow the Whistle" 

I go on and on / Can't understand how I last so long / I must have super powers / Rap 223 thousand hours" - Drake "For Free" 




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It's such a small tweak I can only laugh. Did he do that intentionally? Or did he just misremember the Too Short quote? (According to Genius, Drake says 223 thousand hours instead of 225 because he’s literally two short from Too $hort’s 225. Makes sense.)

Either way, Drake didn't necessarily jack or steal these lines, not in the technical sense. This is a song off a major album so Too Short's going to get paid some publishing money from that quote. Will all praise due to Max B, I think the appropriate term really is wave riding. He's using someone else's momentum to propel himself forward by dropping references that a few people will get and probably love him for - every city likes to see their local legend acknowledged by a huge star, and this comes after Drake already quoted Mac Dre on "The Motto." Everyone else who didn't know it was a Too Short quote will just assume Drake made up something dope, it's a win-win for Drizzy and the grey area between stealing and tribute that can really only be called wavy. 

Of course I haven't even mentioned the song's title and theme come off of Kendrick's wave, as he acknowledges: "Like your boy from Compton said, you know this dick ain't free." And I doubt Kendrick will get paid anything for that, it's more of a reference than a direct quote. But the world doesn't need another article about Kendrick Lamar's influence. It does, however, need a reminder that Too Short is hip-hop's original independent king, the man that essentially invented selling CDs out the trunk of your car, and if it takes a Drake reference to get people talking about him, so be it. 

What's my favorite word? 

UPDATE: Brendan reminded me of the time Drake settled a potential lawsuit with Rappin' 4-Tay for using his "Player's Club" lines on YG's "Who Do You Love" without credit or a publishing split. That Too Short quote here is so obvious I assuming the business was handled properly, but if not, there could be a similiar lawsuit on the way.  

By Nathan S, the managing editor of DJBooth and a hip-hop writer. His beard is awesome. This is his Twitter.

Photo Credits: Drake (Instagram) and Too Short (Instagram)



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