Rapping as Network Participation: Drake x Toronto

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 2.45.38 PMAfter Monday’s discussion of how rap songs so frequently situate themselves inside networks by constructing meaningful messages through their connections, I began thinking about how rap songs contribute to the meanings of networks as well.

The relationship is symbiotic; this is exemplified by Drake’s persona which has been built on his identity as a Toronto citizen. This identity then contributed to Toronto international and local reputations, eventually gaining the affectionate nickname of “the 6” and acting as the home to Drake’s clothing line.

Toronto’s citizens gain yet another connection that imbibe them into the network that the city acts as: some strange relationship with Drake. Whether we love him or hate him, it’s rare that any of Toronto’s citizens don’t feel some type of way about Drake. He has established himself as part of Toronto’s culture, and often refers to himself as gaining cultural capital for the city, such as in the lyrics for his song Wu-Tang Forever: “Stadium’s packed, just glad to see my city on the map/I just gave the city life, it ain’t about who did it first”.

Drake’s album “Views” is chalk full of puns of references to the many sights and experiences of Torontonians. As such, he establishes us not only as a network, but as a specific audience. His music likely resonates differently with Toronto fans than others, providing an affective and nostalgic notion of the city. While his audience clearly extends beyond Toronto’s citizens, I can’t help but feel we have a special relationship with his music as he connects with us through his lyrics and the accompanying imagery. Hearing the line “Queen Street visions that nobody believed in on his track Lose You on his most recent album reminds me of the time I’ve spent there and reminds me that Drake and I are connected through the same network.

What do you think? Is it beneficial to artists to capitalize on the networks they belong to? Is it a false romanticism that audiences project unto their favourite celebrities?

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1 Comment

  1. I definitely think that artists need to use the networks that they belong to to navigate their artistic production. Drake has a relationship with Toronto that he has created out of his own experiences. Although we love to forget, Drake’s reign on Degrassi meant that he was raised on the Toronto artistic scene. A large amount of criticism towards Drake stems out of his over exaggeration of his “from the bottom” persona. People love to point out that Drake comes from an upper middle class family, and that his mother is a white jewish woman. However, they rarely question his authenticity as a Torontoian.

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