Anna; XVIII, ENFP
"And we swagger because we do not know how to part with our rage, which we cherish and press cutting close, but we learn to swagger — or rather, we’re swaggered, briefly, while the wind blows and things burn and our hands are full — because we know it darkly all the same."
Command pilot Neil Armstrong seen through the window of Gemini 8 just before liftoff, 16/3/1966
mythology meme → five of eight mythological creatures
LAMIA – In Greek mythology, Lamia was a Libyan queen loved by the god Zeus. When his jealous wife Hera learned of their affair she stole away her children. Lamia went mad with grief, and tore out her own eyes. Zeus then transformed her into a monster allowing her to exact her revenge by hunting and devouring the children of others. Nowadays, Lamia is often considered a bogey-monster, a night-haunting demon which preys on children and is sometimes depicted as having a serpent’s tail below the waist.
[2/7] KOREAN GODS AND GODDESSES | SEOKGA
Seokga (석가) is rebellious trickster god in Korean mythology. He and Mireuk were responsible for the creation of the world. His name is also used to refer to Siddhartha Gautama in Korean.
According to the Changsega, the deity Seokga attempted to usurp Mireuk, the initial creator of the world, in three contests. In the first contest, which judged who could stretch their ropes across the East Sea, Seokga’s silver rope broke, but Mireuk’s golden rope did not. Thus, Mireuk claimed victory. In the second contest, the deities had to make the Seongcheon river connect to all other rivers in the universe. Seokga called on rainstorms, but he could not make the Seongcheon connect with all other rivers. Mireuk called on winter ice, and made the Seongcheon connect with all other rivers, as water expands when frozen.
In the final contest, Mireuk and Seokga grew a magnolia flower. While the two deities were sleeping, the deity that the magnolia reached for would be the winner. The magnolia reached for Mireuk, but Seokga severed the magnolia and put it in his lap. The angered Mireuk cursed the earth, creating imperfections of the world. Seokga, the injust victor, then imprisoned Mireuk. In three days, Mireuk fled his prison by transforming into a musk deer. In response, Seokga led his three thousand priests to kill Mireuk. While he was successful, it was futile venture: the earth was already left in a flawed state.
SOAP OPERA RAP: DRAKE LISTENING 101
“So it’s gone with Drake, hip-hop’s current center of gravity, his success a reminder of so many of the victories hip-hop has won in the last couple of decades: the right to be decadent, sure, but also the right to reimagine any style of music, the right to be emotionally complicated, the right to be unusual. He confounds expectations. He raps about soft things, sings about hard things. Thanks to his versatility, he is the glue that binds together all of urban radio.”
- Jon Caramanica, “Drake Pushes Rap Towards The Gothic”
so a while back shakespeareandpunk asked me for a list of song recs to help her get into drake. i agreed enthusiastically and then forgot all about it until she poked at me tonight. i’d say that’s why i went completely overboard in this effort: to make up for the wait, but let’s be real - this is exactly the amount of effort i always put into talking about drake. by which i mean all of it. all of my efforts. (at the same time, this is just meant to be an introductory overview; it is by no means exhaustive, and i’m sure i’m going to forget something).
UNIT 1: BACKING UP ALL THESE QUEENS - EASING YOURSELF INTO THE DRAKE EXPERIENCE
let’s start with some of the drake songs or songs with drake in them you probably already know, to acclimatize you to the genre we’re working with here. drake is probably best known as that ‘soft’ canadian rapper who says things like ‘i’m looking for a strong female counterpart to share all these experiences with’, so in particular let’s start with some of the songs he’s done with the ladies we all worship:
- beyonce ft. drake - mine - drake doesn’t make any secret of being as massive a fan of queen bey as the rest of us, but what i find interesting is the fact that that admiration must be reciprocal even without any declaration from beyonce: it’s obvious in the structure of this song and the aesthetics of the video that they share certain tastes and probably influence each other.
- nicki minaj ft. drake - moment 4 life - nicki and drake are both part of the young money crew so it’s no surprise that they collaborate a lot, but what’s important to me with this video is how very clearly nicki’s (feminine) vision the whole thing is, with drake just slotting into it. (please see also: make me proud, best i ever had, and up all night; these two always produce quality when they work together)
- rihanna ft. drake - what’s my name - drake’s rihanna situation is pretty well documented, and also amazing, because honestly who doesn’t have a rihanna situation? but i love this song so much; songs about women being sexually satisfied by dudes are always great. when they include math-based cunnilingus puns they’re even better.
- drake ft. rihanna - take care - watch this video and then watch the bey one, if you’re doubting me about drake being influential. more importantly though, listen to the lyrics. i’ve made a big deal over the years about how kanye’s willingness to be vulnerable is important to me; drake takes that to the next level. part of the way he does that is through not just talking about himself. “we all have our nights though don’t be so ashamed” is one of the most important lines i’ve ever heard in pop music - drake’s not just saying that it’s okay to be him; he’s saying it’s okay to be broken and messy and human, and that you (the you of the song but also yeah you) are still deserving of love and being taken care of
- drake ft. jhené aiko - from time - “i know you’ve been through more than most of us. so what are you so afraid of? darling you give but you cannot take love.” in a lot of ways, this is nothing was the same's sequel to “take care,” focusing more on drake's own issues than on than those of the woman he's rapping to.
- drake ft alicia keys - fireworks - keys’ hook is beautiful and raw, and it works so perfectly with this song about being a little in awe and a little confused over your own success, and how that success doesn’t solve everything inside of you. it’s the opening track of thank me later, and it’s one of my favourite album opening tracks from anyone, not just drake - and not just because it’s a ballsy move to open with something as slow and intimate as this is.
UNIT 2: IT’S HARD TO DO THESE THINGS ALONE - KEEPING WITH THE COLLABORATORS
- the weeknd ft. drake - the zone - these are two of the most interesting and successful artists to come out of toronto in the last few years, so it’s probably no surprise that they collaborate a lot, especially since their work compliments each other’s so well. this song is as smooth as everything the weeknd does is, and drake’s verse adds an emphasis to the beat.
- the weeknd ft. drake - live for - “this the shit shit that i live for, with the people i’d die for”. this is my personal favourite of their collaborations, and i think it’s because it melds their two styles together so seamlessly into something that’s simultaneously atmospheric and energizing.
- drake ft. sampha - too much - sampha has one of my favourite voices of all the people that drake has collaborated with. also, i’ve written about how important this song is before.
- kendrick lamarr ft. drake - poetic justice - this is one of the best songs on a really fucking good album, and i think a lot of that has to do with the collaboration, but even more of it has to do with the janet jackson sample lamarr uses. all the same, both artists are completely on point here, and the hook is perfect.
- dj khaled ft. drake, lil wayne, and rick ross - i’m on one - “i’m just feeling like the throne is for the taking - watch me take it” - of course drake throws some of his best shade in a song that he’s guesting on. this song is an absolute triumph in every way imaginable, and drake’s verse is a huge reason for that. there are so many good lines from him here - “all i care about is money and the city that i’m from”; “i don’t really give a fuck and my excuse is that i’m young”. this song also showcases a side of drizzy’s persona i haven’t talked much about yet here, and that’s the hip hop swagger that he’s more than capable of bringing when he feels like it.
- drake ft. birdman - we’ll be fine - look, this is a really good song, and it charted based on digital sales alone, but the most important thing you need to know about it is this lyric: “heard nicki just bought a brand new crib, goddamn, man, she’s beauty and the beast (lord)”. fucking amen, drake.
- drake ft. jay-z - light up - jay doesn’t completely phone it in on his verse here, but even if he did, the sonic structure of the song, and the hook in particular, would make up for it. drake is really, really good at hooks, if you haven’t noticed yet. but actually, there’s a great moment where jay goes “drake, here’s how they gon’ come at you” - not quite passing the torch, but a recognition, on his debut album, that drake is probably going to be big.
- drake ft. lil wayne - ransom - you can’t talk about drake’s collaborators without talking about his mentor and label head lil wayne. ransom came out back out in 2008 and you can really hear weezy’s influence on it (and, tbh, i am underwhelmed by his actual verse), but it was still a great introduction to what drake was capable of when it comes to spitting.
- drake ft. lil wayne - hyfr (hell ya fuckin right) - this is a way more impressive effort from the both of them; it’s one of the best tracks off of take care, which is an incredibly solid album. it’s a testament to what happens when two artists feed off of each other’s efforts and push one another to be even better.
- drake ft. lil wayne and tyga - the motto - yeah, drake coined ‘yolo’. and thank god, tbh, because this song fucking goes, and any irritating meme-speak is more than worth it for the pumping quality of the hook; in ten years, ‘the motto’ is gonna be a classic along the lines of ‘mo’ money mo’ problems’, you just watch.
- drake, kanye west, lil wayne, and eminem - forever - to be honest, this song falls really flat with me - every verse of it. but at the same time, i feel like i can’t not include a song by all four of these guys, if only because what?
UNIT 3: HOT LOVE AND EMOTION - SOFT DRAKE
- drake ft. majid jordan - hold on, we’re going home - i know, i know: you don’t need me to tell you about this song. but that’s precisely why it’s on the top of this list. from the second the beat kicks in, this song is an instant and obvious hit with staying power: indicative of drake’s ability to create gorgeous (and sexy) soundscapes
- drake ft chantal kreviazuk - over my dead body - don’t get me wrong; nothing was the same is an amazing album. but take care is my favourite. and this song is one of the reasons for that. kreviazuk is a really odd choice for a rapper to collaborate with, even a canadian one, but the result is stunning. not just auditorally, either - drake has some amazing lines in it, and it’s a perfect opener to the album coming after thank me later and ‘fireworks’.
- drake - find your love - this is one of drake’s more underrated singles. that’s probably because it doesn’t have any rap verses, and it’s a pretty standard club single in a lot of ways. but it’s a really good club single that gets inside you and makes you move. it’s co-written by kanye, and was apparently scrapped from 808s and heartbreak. in terms of drake’s career, though, i think it’s important because song and video both show a direct step in his progression into the pinnacle that is ‘hold on we’re going home’
- drake - best i ever had - drake’s breakthrough single, the first drake song a lot of people ever heard, and the debut of Perfect Boyfriend and Sensitive-and-Caring Heartthrob Drake
- drake - trust issues - this song opens with drake revisiting his “i’m on one” verse, but smoother and with an auditory nod to the weeknd. it’s not on an album, or an official single, but it’s one of my favourites all the same, and the lyrics are quintessential drake.
- drake ft. trey songz - successful - not only is this the ultimate aspirational anthem with an open look at the repercussions and results of massive ambition (“i just wanna be, i just wanna be successful”), but it’s also a beautiful and game-changing portrait of parental relations (before “successful”, the only hip hop song i can think of where a rapper openly discusses his relationship with a parent is kanye’s “hey mama”, and this song has the same level of emotional impact). on top of all that, trey songz’s hook is devastatingly catchy.
- drake - marvins room - arguably, objectively, drake’s best song. his previously-mentioned vulnerability manifests in a kind of self-loathing here; it’s a dark song even as the sound itself is slightly muted and atmospheric, all of it feeding back into the self-doubt and seductiveness at once. it’s a track that gets better with every replay.
UNIT 4: WORST BEHAVIOUR - DRAKE CAN, IN FACT, SWAGGER LIKE US
- drake - worst behaviour - let’s get the obvious song out of the way. nothing was the same is a lot harder and more muscular than take care in a lot of ways, and “worst behaviour: is the most obvious example of that. it’s not a smooth grind in any way, but aggressive and more than a little spiteful. drake’s not trying to be even a little bit nice, and it shows. the song’s success is in its sound though, seeing as a good portion of the lyrics are just quoting mase.
- drake - 9am in dallas - honestly, there’s not much to say about this song beyond ‘this is drake at his lyrical best.’ it’s sharp, and witty, and to the point.
- drake - 5am in toronto - a sequel to the above song and just as good. part of the appeal is drake’s self-awareness: “every song sound like drake featuring drake” in response to the mixed reviews regarding his tendency to mix rapping and singing. part of the appeal is how much he loves his city. part of the appeal is just how good the song is.
- drake - started from the bottom - a straight-up and immediate anthem, that is important not just for how much of a hit it is, but also the way it combines his metropolitan and obviously urban side with an overt canadian-ness - particularly in the video ('MAKIN' IT RAIN SHOPPERS OPTIMUM POINTS' and the sense of humour it has especially). this is important because, as one of the biggest international canadian celebrities right now, drake is constantly articulating and showcasing a canadian experience that we tend to ignore in our whitewashed and pastoralized cultural discourse, and the overt canada references in this video take that to a new level.
- drake - dreams money can buy - the shade in this song takes no prisoners, and the hard-hitting lyrics mixed with the almost ethereal backing track is something else.
- drake - headlines - this was my favourite drake song from the first moment i heard it (and probably still is, with the possible exception of the next track). it’s confident and catchy and the song i listen to if i ever need an assurance boost. the defiance of the lyrics, combined with the almost sing-song delivery in parts, combined with the drumline-style snare beat all come together into a song that is much, much greater than the sum of its parts. ”the real is on the rise”, you know.
- drake - trophies - this song. this song. this song is A Lot. it’s a muscular and aggressive monster with a gorgeous backing horn track that at one point drops into a dubstep moment that just highlights the heaviness of the whole song. it’s not quite a new direction for drake, but it’s certainly an expansion of his sound, and in a good way.
This nice long nap you describe? It’s preceded by a death. Not a coma, we’re talking about actual, physical death. How traumatic an experience something like that is? To have felt the life drain out of you, and then come back from that? To have known that fear, to have felt that cold that changes you. And then to not just live again, but most of the people we’re talking about, they died fighting. For them to go from that, to back to the front lines, sometimes within an hour’s time? Is that something you’d sign up for?