I’m Just Sayin’, We Can Do Better: Why People Should Stop Questioning Drake’s Masculinity

October 11, 2013  |  

Ever since the release of Drake’s Nothing Was the Same album, the Internet has been awash with memes calling his masculinity into question.

You might have seen one or two – or several: There are the various memes making light of the NWTS album cover art, which features a split illustration of Drake as an afro-headed child and as an adult rapper (the original), but set it against a blissful blue sky with Care Bears and some rainbows in the background. Don’t forget about the other memes, which have superimposed Drake’s head onto a box of tampons. Just about everyone has a joke about how NWTS is the equivalent of taking bubble baths and writing old flames “miss me” letters. And then there are the personal favorites, the Drake is the type of dude/n*gga…:

…If You Say Your Exes Name 3 times in the Mirror, Drakes Appears and Cries With You

…to Get Nudes from a Girl, photoshop them with clothes on, send them back to to her, talking about, “I’m jus saying you can do better…”

…to eat two gummy bears at the same time so they don’t have to die alone.

…who cries on Maury because he is not the father.

It’s funny to people because Drake is soft, thus less of a man. At least, that’s what the people who make these Drake-is-soft jokes and memes are trying to insinuate and want us to remember. For all intents and purposes, the album has been hailed by critics as his most “self-aware” to date. The album itself, particularly its artwork, hints at some serious introspection about his evolution from boy into manhood. This introspection makes the self-proclaimed light-skinned Keith Sweat of rap atypical of the rough and tough, mean mugging, gangsta leaning, ho-smacking, “real ni**a,” which makes up the Hip-Hop landscape. For all intents and purposes, this should be a good thing.

However, it is clear that the general public still has an aversion to rappers who talk about their feelings and emotions. It’s clear, based on the tone of the laughter from these memes, that rappers are not supposed to go through heartache or understand unrequited love. Real dudes aren’t supposed to cry. Real dudes aren’t vulnerable. Real dudes have many uninvolved emotional conquests. Those who step out of the mold are instantly disregarded as effeminate or gay. We stifle the free emotional expression of men to the point where more gentile and homosexual men aren’t even included in the definition of “masculinity.”

In a community where men are desperate to be seen as masculine and hard at all times, we help to perpetuate these narrow ideas of what is acceptable masculinity. And we, as the general consumers of this music, cynically pass around those memes and say these jokes, as subtle but definite ways of reinforcing destructive ideas that the only love worth sharing is for money and Maybachs.

However nothing is further from the truth, as illustrated by this interview with Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World:

The thing that really disturbs me is that there are so many wonderful dads, who want the best for their sons, who aren’t having conversations with their sons about healthy relationships or acknowledging that they will fall in love. Falling in love in high school is a huge adrenaline rush–it’s got intense highs and lows. Your heart can break, you can be betrayed. It’s horrible, and you don’t know what to do, or you wonder if you’ll ever have a girlfriend. These are things that all boys struggle with, but even really good dads don’t have conversations that acknowledge that experience. And then there are a lot of other fathers whose relationship advice is limited to this type of scenario (told to me by the boys themselves):  A very attractive 18-year-old woman walks by and the dad nudges his son and says, “Go get that.” Great young men want to have rich emotional lives, but everywhere they turn, people are forcing them to live the stereotype of being a sexist, not-caring, emotionally disengaged, superficial guy. It’s amazing because we turn around and get angry with them when they go over the line, without acknowledging what we do as adults that stifles and silences and shuts boys up from being emotionally engaged people.”

Honestly, I wouldn’t at all call myself a fan of Drake. Artistically, I’m just not that impressed outside of a tune here or there. Likewise, some of his themes, while spoken in more gentile ways, are equally problematic as his more aggressive rap counterparts. With that said, I can also appreciate the emotional rawness he is willing to reveal and bare on his tracks. Sometimes a dude just gets into his feelings. And as a society, who is interested in curbing the more destructive aspects of repressed masculinity, we should kind of be more open to that. Otherwise, we are chastising rappers for being degrading and violent, even when we give them so little space to express anything else.

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  • Brooklyn_Beauty_Danni

    See this is the problem now…lets all take this beyond rap and speak about being human. Why the hell must men be so “hard” all the time. I don’t know about any woman but i’m pretty confident that no woman wants to be called b***hes and h**s. I don’t want to hear that in my music (this is the main reason I don’t listen to this rap crap nowadays anyways) and I don’t want to hear that in my day-to-day either. Men are human…i’m not saying that they should be extra but they are human! It takes a real man to realize a feeling/emotion and vocalize that emotion. That’s a real man! Life gets rough and I don’t expect anyone to put on the tough front every day all day. That isn’t normal.

  • Alexandrea Desteny Gray-Corujo

    People don’t make fun of Drake because he’s not a tough dude. People make fun of Drake because he pretends to be thugged out and be hard but then turns around and whines and cries in his songs. I understand people have dimensions but he’s a bit of a hypocrite. I never tire of Drake memes they’re beyond hilarious. To those under me Drake has plenty of songs about Strippers, hoes, cars, alcohol, and money. There are plenty of rappers who have a variety of topics they rap about it’s your own fault if you choose not to seek them out.

    • Starcru

      Lol true,but i still like him. I won’t mind being with a guy like drake.

      • Alexandrea Desteny Gray-Corujo

        True but I don’t think he’s the sweet guy he’s portrayed as. He dates nothing but hoes and strippers. What nice guy does that? I guess I shouldn’t judge.

  • Herm Cain

    Oh sthu women don’t have a say in the content or direction hip hop is going because you don’t genuinely listen unless y’all feel the artist is cute or you hear it in the club there’s plenty socially conscious artist street artist etc yall wont pay it any mind unless chris browns on the track the problem is not this soft b***h a** dudes persona he’s always crying some sucker s**t over some shared h0 hip hop was never about catering to y’all so he got his label rightfully so

  • “If You Say Your Exes Name 3 times in the Mirror, Drakes Appears and Cries With You”

    Now that is just hilarious. To get to the point, Drake was freakin Wheelchair Jimmy on Degrassi and is from Canada. He ain’t about that life and never claimed to be. As highlighted by the 1982 Bill Cosby sweater in the pic, he don’t care about looking ‘hard’ or gaining street cred. He was raised middle class and went to a good school what’s wrong with not rapping about all that garbage? It’s different and apparently its working for him. Record sells don’t lie.

  • Tonyoardee

    This is the reason why we have alot of fathers in these past generations that couldnt show love to their sons or hug and hold them. Folks would consider that weird or homosexual.. smh

  • Kenedy

    I actually would love a man that does all the things above, including eating two gummy bears at the same time.. Call me crazy

  • Chey

    Charing’s articles are becoming so predictable. I always know exactly which ones are hers.

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  • ChiTown Princess

    This is what’s wrong with young men out here, you have to be a thug, disrespect women, have money, jewelry, drugs and have s3x with lots of women to be considered masculine instead of having an education and HUMAN FEELINGS! I like rappers like Common, Drake, KRS-One and Tupac (I’m an 80s baby 90s child) because rap music was better and it ain’t nothing wrong with rappers having emotions and being poetic in their music and it’s sad that when I go on Facebook I see memes about how soft Drake is and lightskin n***as this and that, GTFOH and grow up!

  • doesn’t matter

    Frankly I have had enough of the ridiculous rap where its Ok to talk about the same stuff over and over and over….Sex, Drugs, Money, and women (and not in a good way). If theses rappers were true artist and poets as how rap started out to be then they would grow and evolve and express other thoughts and feelings beside the items mention above. This is why people think hip hop is dead….Cuz it all sounds so cookie cutter

    I commend Drake…I like his music because he chooses to be a bit different. I wish more rappers would follow his lead….But questioning someone masculinity because they express their feelings and thoughts on true real world scenarios and not made up crap that they wish they had gone through….*cough* most rappers….Then maybe I could take some of this rap a little more seriously.

  • bluekissess

    People need to get a life.

  • Marie De Salle (IvyNoLeague)

    I must admit the drake jokes we’re funny at first, but now it’s really annoying.I guess you have rap about money,cars, clothes, and ho*s in order to be consider “masculine.People wonder why you have these young men out here “acting” like thugs, because they believe that’s the only way to show masculinity. I like Drake,and the fact he doesn’t change who he is to fit in with the rest of these rappers.It’s nice he shows his feelings which makes his music more relatable.Maybe if he was talking about fu****g bytches and getting ho*s it will be better ?

    • bigdede

      The Drake jokes do get annoying but once in a while there are some funny ones. Like the one about Drake is the kind of n*gga to hold an ice cream cone with both hands. LOL. But I love Drake and I’m glad he’s not trying to change to fit in with anyone. That’s why he’s still successful. All those jokes are just from haters who are jealous. His album leaked and it stilled sold extremely well when released.

  • JMO

    So I guess all male rappers should be all hard by calling women b*tches and hoes, s3x, talk about money, drugs, liqour and talking about materialistic crap so people think they’re straight. Now when a male rapper talk about feelings and poetry now he’s soft? This is why I stick to old school rap, most of them talking about real life stuff and not about s3x, women, money and materialism!

    • Tonyoardee

      most of those rappers talked about sex, drugs and money… name one biggie song that wasnt about sex, drugs, or money. his era is the reason Mister Cee has his problems today