It’s not hyperbolic to say that I love Drake. Like, I love Drake. I love Drake in the way only a millennial, Toronto-adjacent, Canadian woman who has requested “Nice for What” 10+ times on repeat at the club can. I love Drake for a lot of reasons: his humble beginnings on Degrassi, his catchy tunes, his mama’s boy attitude, the way he unabashedly reps Toronto (a city I was born in, didn’t grown up in, but will now rep wholeheartedly—because of Drake), putting places like Weston Road on the map, and his industry-paving ways for Canadian talent. Before Justin Bieber, before The Weeknd, before Daniel Caesar, there was Drake.
Oh, and he’s not *that* hard to look at, either.
I love Drake, but I’m over him. Or more aptly, I’m over his seriously problematic behaviour—and I’m finally ready to admit it.
Recently, a 2010 video of the 32-year-old rapper, a.k.a. Aubrey Graham, resurfaced. In the three-minute clip, the then 23-year-old is joined onstage at a Denver concert by a young woman. After asking the crowd to “make some noise for Tia from Denver, y’all,” Drake proceeds to slow dance with the concert-goer, before commenting on the smell of her hair and kissing the back of her neck. The crowd goes wild. Later in the clip, the rapper wraps his arms around her chest from behind before commenting that he’s “getting carried away,” saying, “I’ll get in trouble for shit like this,” then asking her how old she is—to which she says that she’s 17.
Drake’s response? “I can’t go to jail yet, man!” the rapper exclaims, before incredulously asking the underage teen, “Why do you look like that? You thick. Look at all this.”
TBH, the video felt weird in general, with the crowd cheering as Drake pulled down the back of the 17-year-old’s top to kiss the base of her neck. (Hey Drake, remember when Madonna clearly kissed you against your will onstage at Coachella?) But it’s the rapper’s reaction to finding out her age that’s really troubling, and makes the situation straight-up creepy. Addressing it, Drake says, “I don’t know if I should feel guilty or not, but I had fun. I like the way your breasts feel against my chest,” before kissing her on the cheeks and forehead.
While people in the crowd cheered in 2010, people on the internet in 2019 are not pleased, and neither am I. It’s clear from Drake’s reaction that he knows there’s something at least a little off with the interaction, and the age of the concert-goer. But not only does he trivialize the nature of the situation—joking about going to jail and getting in trouble for “this shit,” he essentially victim blames the girl, telling her that she doesn’t look her age and chastising her for her curves.
But we shouldn’t be surprised, because Drizzy has been problematic for awhile. In 2016, Nylon ranked his most disappointing moments of that year. In 2015, The Establishment, an online media site funded and run by women, critiqued his categorization of women as either “good girls” or “bad girls.” The distinction between the two is easy, characterized by their level interest in Drake. Good girls sit by the phone, waiting for the rapper to call, with no agency and no lives of their own, while bad girls—like the unnamed woman in “Hotline Bling,” who goes out, dresses sexy and parties with friends—make non-Drake related decisions and are therefore untrue to themselves. It’s a categorization that further perpetuates the long-held Madonna/whore complex.
While some argue that the rapper’s most recent indiscretion (or, at least, the recently resurfaced video evidence of it) wasn’t *technically* illegal—the age of consent in Colorado is 17; in Canada, Drake’s home country, it’s 16—it’s unarguably creepy, and troubling considering the rapper’s now frequent “friendships” with underage girls, including 14-year-old Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown. The duo met backstage at a November 2017 concert in Australia, going from strangers to BFFs in a hot sec and documenting their newfound bond all over the ’gram.
In 2018, Brown elaborated on their relationship, telling Access Hollywood that the pair often text each other, with the 32-year-old rapper providing advice about guys. “I love him. We just texted each other the other day and he was like ‘I miss you so much,’ and I was like ‘I miss you more,'” Brown said in the interview, “he’s great.”
Millie Bobby Brown revealed to @AccessOnline that she and Drake text about boys: "I love him. We just texted each other the other day and he was like 'I miss you so much,' and I was like 'I miss you more,' he's great.” pic.twitter.com/UVBO0u97XD
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) September 18, 2018
Brown’s latest comments on Drizzy occurred around the same time Toronto’s very own was rumoured to be dating 18-year-old model Bella Harris (whom he initially and fittingly met on his Summer Sixteen tour in 2016, when she was 16, and started hanging out with again just after announcing the existence of his son). And according to Nylon, in 2016 Drake—then 29—was reportedly dating a 19-year-old Hailey Baldwin, who he’d known since she was 14.
Which honestly, seems kind of like a pattern. Is it believable that the Canadian singer could be friends with Brown and Harris? Sure. But as some Twitter users pointed out, his actions—and these relationships—are kind of… gross.
when we found out drake, 31, is texting millie bobby brown, 14, talking bout "i miss you so much" pic.twitter.com/YkPdIdg4EK
— hunter harris (@hunteryharris) September 18, 2018
Ok but Drake texting Millie Bobbi Brown about boys is very gross pic.twitter.com/IXrNkfj2X4
— sry i dipped (@colourpill) September 18, 2018
They’re also akin to grooming, the insidious process of manipulating a person with the intention of victimizing them—which often begins as friendship and is characterized by a power or age imbalance. “Drake is OBVIOUSLY grooming Millie Bobby Brown,” one Twitter user wrote, “…no 30-something year old man should be in a 14 year old girls text messages giving her… “dating advice”.”
Drake is OBVIOUSLY grooming Millie Bobby Brown.. no 30-something year old man should be in a 14 year old girls text messages giving her… “dating advice”.
— YT: Wesley Lindsey 🎥 (@Zeitwes) September 18, 2018
At the time, Drake and Milly BB’s friendship just didn’t sit right with me. Perhaps in large part, because it—along with his rumoured relationships with Harris and Baldwin—seems at odds with the rapper’s image as a wholesome mama’s boy and feminist. (Although it’s easy to see how all three women could fit his definition of “good girl.”) But if we’re being honest, I continued to shrug this feeling off. As many of us do with our problematic faves, I gave him a second chance, and a third, and a fourth, in the hopes that he would prove me wrong—or rather, prove me right and further validate my unwavering support.
And for a while, Drizzy was saying all the right things. In October 2018, he opened up about his son, and the less-than-ideal relationship he has with his son’s mother—former French adult film star and artist Sophie Brussaux—to Lebron James on his HBO show The Shop, telling the NBA player: “I’m still learning to communicate with a woman who, you know, we’ve had our moments. I do want to be able to explain to my son what happened. But I don’t have any desire for him to not love his mother. I don’t ever want the world to be angry at his mother. We have found ourselves in a situation and we are both equally responsible. Now, I’m just really excited to be a great father.”
He later added, “No matter what happens, I have unconditional love for the mother of my child because I want him to love his mother and I have to project that energy.”
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 13, 2018
In the same interview, the rapper opened up about his tumultuous and often idealized relationship with Fenty Goddess Rihanna. The two artists were on-again, off-again from 2009 until 2016, with Drizzy continually professing his love for the singer online and onstage (problematic in itself), firmly cementing them as the Selena/Bieber of the R&B world, the couple fans demand as our OTP—regardless of the pair’s actual feelings or compatibility.
Speaking to James and co-host Maverick Carter about the discrepancy between his situation now and what he envisioned for his family life, Drake said, “As life takes shape and teaches you your own lessons, I end up in this situation where I don’t have the fairy tale, like, ‘Oh, Drake started a family with Rihanna and this is like so perfect.’”
YES. *This* is from the Drake we all know and love. *This* was Sandra’s son. *This* was the 6ix God. *This* was evidence of maturity and personal growth!!
But as it turns out, woke feminist Drake is fake Drake. For someone who raps a lot about love and appreciation for women (*ahem* the aforementioned banger “Nice for What”—an anthem to badass women getting it done and revelling in their financial independence) his personal actions don’t entirely align. Just one day after his appearance on “The Shop,” the rapper continued his ongoing “bros make up tour” by bringing all-around trash human Chris Brown on stage at his October 13 tour stop in L.A., where the two performed Brown’s 2017 hit “Party.”
For a quick refresher, Brown and Drake have been in an on-and-off beef since 2010. In 2009, Brown was charged with felony-assault of his then-girlfriend Rihanna, after he physically attacked the singer the night before the GRAMMYs. (Brown, the gentleman he is, has since essentially blamed Rihanna for the incident.)
“I got the utmost respect—I think this guy’s one of the most talented human beings on the planet,” Drake said to the crowd when introducing Brown. To see Drizzy, the espoused feminist and professed romantic, throw his support behind a man who horribly assaulted the alleged love of his life? It felt like a betrayal, not only to Riri, but to women everywhere. Drake doesn’t support all women, just the ones that serve his needs. It would appear that by dumping him, Rihanna has landed herself in the “bad girl” category, and according to Drake, that means she’s no longer worth his respect.
Drake’s place as my problematic fave made it easier to support him, easier to look for the positives and easier to make excuses: But… he loves Rihanna! But… he’s besties with his mom! But… “Nice for What”!
But… I just can’t do that anymore.
The stakes are too high. As writer Sandra Song pointed out in October 2018, Drake’s interest in impressionable young women is “a systemic issue in a society which has a surplus of men in power, as well as an abundance of women who have ambitions to be seen, to be understood, to attain power themselves within the existing societal structure.” And, she says, it’s a situation that lends itself to varying degrees of abuse. It’s something that can’t be overlooked, especially in the current climate and especially for women who aren’t famous, as Song somewhat prophetically asks: “So what about the other young women this sort of thing happens to who, unlike Brown and Baldwin, aren’t in the public eye?”
Last weekend marked the debut of Lifetime’s Surviving R Kelly, which features heart-wrenching interviews with multiple women who say they were abused by the R&B singer. Over the last 25 years, Kelly has faced charges of child pornography and has been accused of holding women—predominantly Black women—against their will at his Atlanta home in what a BuzzFeed investigation described as a “sex cult.” The six-part docu-series has garnered an average of 2.1 million viewers since it aired, the singer’s lawyer, publicist and an executive assistant have resigned [though his lawyer says it is for reasons unrelated to the allegations], and Kelly is reportedly under investigation in Georgia
Let’s get something straight, R Kelly is arguably pure evil. The allegations against him, and the complacency of those around him—which allowed his predatory behaviour to continue for decades—is horrendous. Drake’s behaviour is not anywhere near that level. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t problematic, and doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed.
For the first time in history, women are finally being heard. Our voices, bodies and stories are being validated. As a result, it’s now more important than ever to call out harmful behaviour wherever and whenever we see it, faves aside. Letting Drake—or anyone else, famous or not—slide would be doing a disservice to survivors, and to anyone vulnerable to abuse. And as we’ve learned, complacency comes at an unforgivable cost.
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