It’s Finally Time for Drake to Get Political

He's dedicated his career to avoiding it, but Drake has a responsibility to use his fame and influence for good.
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Last week, an overwhelmingly contentious, bitter and all-consuming election ended in the ascendancy of Donald Trump, who promptly answered the media's calls to "wait and see" what he would as president do by naming a man celebrated by the KKK and American Nazi Party as his Chief Strategist. What a time to be alive indeed.

Millions of Americans searched for answers in the wake of the election, thousands took to the streets in protest, and Drake celebrated his win at the MTV Europe Awards.

To say that Drake isn't political is to say that rocks aren't made of butter.

Aubrey Graham isn't just silent on matters of politics and society, he is obsessively focused on ignoring the world outside his own eyesight. All of Drake's music is always completely about him and his personal experience—he's almost never rapped from someone else's perspective or touched on an issue or topic he isn't the primary figure in—a quality which has enabled him to become the most popular rapper of the Selfie Generation.

Aside from a moment in mid-2015 when he briefly acknowledged the existence of an epidemic of police shootings ("Charged Up" and "30 For 30"), Drake's exhibited an unceasing, Riff Raff-ian dedication to living entirely in a world of his own making, and now, finally, it's time for that to stop.

When I've previously floated the idea that it's time for Drake to become a true leader (aka I tweeted about it) I've been met with a surprising amount of resistance (aka angry people in my mentions). The primary pushback seems to be that Drake shouldn't be expected to become the kind of artist he's not and make the next To Pimp a Butterfly as if the only two options are "Hotline Bling" or becoming the next KRS-One.

I don't want him, or anyone, making music that's not authentic to themselves, although it's perhaps even more disappointing to believe that one of the most honest, emotional and heartfelt rappers of all time doesn't have any authentic emotions and thoughts about the condition of the world around him.

We've seen that side of Drake, once. We know it exists. Is it really so unreasonable to hope for more?

Especially in the age of social media: Drizzy could easily keep his music entirely as it is and still be obviously, openly and actively engaged in the larger world, and it's worth noting just how profoundly alone he is in his insistence on remaining this isolated.

With the exception of Drake, all of the top-selling rappers of all-time (Jay Z, Kanye, Tupac, Eminem, DMX, OutKast, Ludacris, Lil Wayne and yes, even Nelly) have all, to varying degrees, used their fame as a platform for advocacy. That list extends to the vast majority of Drake's contemporary peers as well (Kendrick, Cole, YG, Nicki Minaj, Chance The Rapper, Mac Miller, G-Eazy, etc.). Even Rae Sremmurd, whose party credentials can never be questioned, got political, albeit in the service of a meme.

Even if we think of Drake as a pop star and not a "rapper," his silence is still an anomaly. Putting aside Beyoncé as the blueprint for making socially engaged music that sells out arenas worldwide, it's hard to find a pop star who's maintained radio silence over the last week (and beyond) as completely as Drake. Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, and many more uber-celebrities have made it clear that they're against a Trump presidency. Hell, even Justin Bieber has at times made vague statements about his support for tolerance and equality, and despite deserved criticism for refusing to condemn Trump, Taylor Swift at least urged people to get out and vote. Drake, in comparison, has done even less, unintentionally confirming his narcissism by only tweeting about Drake Night in the immediate aftermath of the election.

The only precedent I can think of in terms of someone with the same ballpark of fame and wealth in the hip-hop sphere is Michael Jordan, who reportedly said that he refused to talk about politics, society or race because "Republicans buy sneakers too." If Drake carries the same philosophy as his hero it would make sense, as like Jordan, Drake's meticulous about building a brand that turns away no potential customer, but I would also point out that Lebron, Curry, and Kevin Durant, all with hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements on the line, have all spoken out repeatedly with very little, if any, impact on their bottom line.

The simple truth is that it's hard to think of anyone with Drake's level of cultural influence and power who's remained so steadfastly silent as the world around him goes through dramatic upheaval, and I refuse to think that's because he's unaware, uncaring or greedy. On a more micro level, he routinely supports charities and helps those in need, which I can only believe means he's afraid to do the same on a larger level.

So while I'm obviously critical of his silence, and believe it's a warranted criticism, I want to be clear that by no means am I calling for a boycott. You can't harass someone into doing the right thing; there's no crucifixion coming. But I do think it's completely reasonable to want Drake to show that he lives in the same world as the people who buy his albums and purchase his concert tickets, get over his fear, and use his enormous platform for change.

It is, of course, naive and dangerous to look to celebrities to shape our world. We don't need Drake, or anyone, to tell us how to think or to give us permission to take action. I'm certainly not pinning my hopes for the future of my children on Aubrey Graham's shoulders. But it's also naive not to recognize the enormous influence celebrities can have. Pusha T recently helped register 30,000 new voters in Virginia, just imagine the numbers a Drake-fueled voter drive could do.

With or without Drake, we'll be marching forward, just as resolute in our resistance to Trump as Drake is in his silence (so far). We don't need him, we only need us—but it sure would be nice to have him on our side. 

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