Dissecting “How About Now” And The World’s Ongoing Obsession With Drake

On Sunday night, something incredibly unexpected happened for the second time in two months: A track rumored to be off Drake’s upcoming album Views From The 6 found its way online through a source other than the rapper and his management team.

The song, titled “How About Now,” was first uploaded to the internet by a 17-year-old fan from Georgia, and as far as I’ve found, no explanation for how he came to be in possession of the unreleased material has surfaced, aside from a comment that it was an “exclusive leak.” It doesn’t really matter at this point however, because once it hit the net it was available for anyone who felt like grabbing a free mp3. Drake’s team leaped into action, but the damage was done.

2014 has not been that great of a year for hip-hop, which has given Drake an amazing ability to capitalize on his popularity at a time that could be considered an easier year compared to those prior. He’s had no album release, but he’s delivered a number of free singles, as well as several high profile guest appearances, that have kept him a regular fixture in music headlines. There was also his summer tour alongside Young Money boss Lil Wayne. More importantly however, he’s one of the only people in mainstream hip-hop doing anything the least bit interesting with his sound. He’s had half a decade at the top, something proven by the numerous chart-topping singles he’s appeared on, and he’s still constantly trying to challenge the rest of the industry – not to mention his own fans – with something new. Something real.

“How About Now” is classic Drake as told through the mind and voice of a man with many more life experiences than the boy who gave us Comeback Season. The things he once spoke of have become reality, and while that happened his dreams grew more ambitious. They say if you teach a man to fish he will never go hungry again, and in a similar way those men who learn that achieving your dreams is 90% getting over whatever hesitation you have and devoting yourself fully to the pursuit of your passion have a hard time ever considering their work complete. There is always another mountain to climb, another song to write, another band to discover, another pie to bake, another lap to run, and so on. That pursuit of something that has no real end point is what has driven the best of Drake’s material, and here it comes front and center once more to be juxtaposed with talk of past lovers who never had the patience to handle a man with ambition.

“You changed up,” accuses a female voice at the beginning of the track, which informs us of everything we need to know before Drake speaks his mind. He’s always responding to something, and here it’s thinking about the sacrifices made for someone who wouldn’t do the same for him. He probably didn’t see it at the time. No one ever does. In the mind of the one putting in everything they’re far too busy trying to make the other person’s dream a reality to think all that much about whether or not that person is doing the same for them. The drawback to these situations is that all too often the other person is not doing their part, and if they are it’s not to the same extent as the other. As the relationship carries on, there are societal expectations that come into play, and it’s not uncommon for that to force one – or both people – to change their pursuit in an attempt to fit more in line with cultural norms. That’s not the kind of thing Drake is trying to do with his life, but it seems at a time there was someone capable of having that impact on him.

So where did she go? What changed? Drake doesn’t go too in depth, but the lines about how it’s crazy how it’s gotta be dark out to know who is really with you makes it clear enough. Drake was chasing his passion and the pursuit came with up and downs. His girl may have been there for the highs, but when those lows came around she wasn’t, or at least not in the way Drake needed. He may have been able to forgive that at first, but as his highs grew greater, the lows grew deeper, and suddenly that lack of a reliable woman to fall back on eventually came to a head. Looking back now, Drake cannot help wondering where that same girl is now, and it’s clear he’s doing his best to downplay anything she may still mean to him. Let’s be honest though; if he’s willing to put these feelings to digital tape all these years later it’s safe to say she still crosses his mind from time to time. That, and the fact the track samples the Jodeci classic “My Heart Belongs To You.”

It’s tracks like this where Drake showcases what has truly made him the music mainstay he became in recent years. Any creative mind can string together egotistical phrases about greatness and share fictionalized tales of excess, but it takes another level of intelligence to craft detailed songs based on your own life experiences that draw parallels to situations everyone goes through in life. Drake has the ability to make you miss people you never knew, and “How About Now” is one of the finest examples of that talent he has delivered to date. There are only a handful of people in the world who know the girl at the center of the track, and even less know the story behind this material, but sitting alone in your car or tucked away somewhere with headphones on you’re pulled into Drake’s world and forge a connection to the people in it. You’re given a front row seat to his journey, which humanizes his high level of celebrity in a very ‘average Joe’ and manipulates your personal memories of love on the rocks through vague descriptions of dramatic sequences while exploiting them for commercial success. It’s genius. Perhaps somewhat evil, but definitely genius.

Drake is not an originator in this effort, but he’s one of the few mainstream artists tapping into that skill today. Drake’s music is as much about what he says, as what he doesn’t say. This song tells us about a girl who seems perfect on the surface, but unfortunately fails to grasp the concept of how two people are supposed to support one another through thick and thin. We’re given just enough information to connect this female with any person we have been romantically linked to and let down by, which I would wager is not all that difficult for most people over the age of 18. Once we forge a connection between the story Drake is telling and someone we interacted with in our own lives there is almost no chance we’re getting out of the track without feeling something. Drake doesn’t need to make us feel good, but he also doesn’t need to make us cry. He just needs to make us feel something other than the endlessly repetitive command to dance demanded by the thumping bass of every EDM song currently nestled in pop’s top 40. Drake goes above and beyond the bare minimum, of course, but that simply speaks to his desire to be better than anyone else in music. He could do the same with less, but he doesn’t, and that’s just classy.

Written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell
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