In September, Drake released a 12-minute music video for “Child’s Play.” The video finds the OVO rapper getting into a fight with Tyra Banks at The Cheesecake Factory (just like in the song!) after being caught texting another girl. He later goes to the strip club to blow off some steam (read: drown his sorrows). It’s a totally plausible scenario for a guy like Drake and maybe the most authentic-to-his-own-life music video he’s released (ok, he isn’t dating Tyra Banks, but he is obsessed with Cheesecake and would definitely turn a fight with his girl into a short film).
The moment you think you’re getting to know the real Aubrey Graham, however, is the moment you forget this guy is a rap game Animorph, a highly skilled shapeshifter who talks about hitting licks in a Lexus one minute and wishes for apologies for Christmas the next.
Yesterday, Drake released a new video for “Sneakin',” his collaboration with Atlanta rapper 21 Savage that will appear on his upcoming More Life playlist, and it might be his most ridiculous video yet.
Within the first 20 seconds of the video, Drake wears a mink, fiddles with his oversized pinky rings and does that dumbass wink that he does as if he’s aiming down the sight of a gun (you know, the replica ones from his “Hold On, We’re Going Home” video). He looks like he’s going to a Halloween party dressed as Frank Lucas.
The most Drake-doing-non-Drake-things part, however, is when he shows off a double cup of lean to the camera. Drizzy seemed to have a regular appetite for dirty Sprite a few years ago, but you know damn well he isn’t sipping every day with the way he’s been working lately. We never actually see him drink any of it in the video, which is a good thing. But something just doesn’t feel right about an artist as big as Drake using liquid heroin for cool points—especially when Gucci Mane is out here painting the painful realities of drug addiction.
You get the feeling Drake wouldn’t be doing a lot of the stuff he’s doing in this video if it weren’t for 21 Savage. A product of Atlanta's Zone 6 who was shot six times in 2013, the self-proclaimed Slaughter King is one of the scariest rappers right now. He’s not intimidating in the same way 50 Cent or The Game is; 21’s fear factor lies in his unflinching realness. When he snarls stuff like, “Pull up on you, tie your kids up / Pistol whip you while your bitch naked,” you believe him. Drake probably bought 21 Savage a Ferrari just so he wouldn’t shoot him.
Unfortunately, 21 Savage comes off as more Welven Da Great than the Grim Reaper in the “Sneakin’” video. Every one of his cameos is awkward to watch: when he’s sitting on the hood of his car not sure where to look; when he’s getting swallowed whole by a girl giving him a lap dance; and most painful of all, when he tries to copy Drake’s swaying arms grandpa dance but lacks the natural pizzazz to pull it off. 21’s scariest moment is when he squares up to the camera and says “shut the fuck up,” and even then it’s not that scary.
Maybe it’s because 21 Savage is so far out of his comfort zone—Drake’s Calabasas mansion is a far cry from his Atlanta neighborhood—or maybe the video just doesn’t make Drake and 21 Savage appear all that scary. The grainy, VHS-style aesthetic is the hallmark of Gab3 (aka Gabe of UZi), the artist, director and human Tumblr who’s previously collaborated with Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, and Travis Scott. The whole lo-fi thing seems to be en vogue amongst cool, young creatives right now, but is it really that creative? To me, it’s just the equivalent of 19-year-old rappers wearing ripped t-shirts of rock bands they’ve never heard.
“Sneakin’” is a sinister song about silencing enemies, and it deserved a music video of horror film proportions. Unfortunately, we got Scary Movie instead of Scream.
By Andy James. Follow him on Twitter.