After a false start, Drake and 21 Savage released their collaborative album, “Her Loss,” on Nov. 4.
I had hopeful expectations for the project, excited to hear how both rappers would cohesively blend their distinct sounds. Instead, “Her Loss” essentially functions as a solo project for Drake, with his collaborator sidelined. Drake's main character moment, however, shows him at his best and worst — talented but insecure.
This project isn’t the pair's first rodeo at collaborative albums. 21 Savage previously released "Without Warning" with Offset of Migos and producer Metro Boomin, and Drake’s 2015 mixtape was a collaboration with Future.
You would think these projects primed the two on how to share the mic. But, clearly, Drake wanted the spotlight — a decision 21 Savage may be grateful for, given that it’s landed Drake in the hot seat.
Before I was even four songs into the album, I opened Twitter to find that it was already embroiled in controversy. Users were calling Drake out for dissing Black women, particularly rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
In verse one of the song “Circo Loco,” Drake raps “This (bitch) lie ‘bout gettin' shots, but she still a stallion.” Listeners noted that this line seemed to be dissing Megan Thee Stallion, who has publicly claimed that rapper Tory Lanez was the gunman who shot her in the foot in 2020.
In an interview earlier this year, Megan said she didn’t inform the police immediately after the incident to due to her fear it would escalate the situation. Her initial explanation for her injuries was that she had stepped on glass, but she later exposed Lanez as the shooter and expressed that he and his team were trying to silence her. Lanez has pleaded not guilty to the shooting and stoked skepticism about his involvement.
Drake possibly using this instance as a punchline only adds more skepticism and invalidates her experience as a victim. It's a shameful act, especially given the recent loss of rapper Takeoff due to gun violence.
Rapper Lil Yatchy, one of the song’s co-writers, addressed the rumors and stated that the line was not about Megan Thee Stallion or the incident with Lanez. Instead, he said, the line is about women lying about getting plastic surgery. Unfortunately, this meaning is no better — the bodies of women shouldn’t be a man’s business, let alone a line in his song.
Either way, it was a misstep written by men at the expense of women.
The ego of a commercial male rap artist hinges on his perception of success. This often revolves around three things: money, women and legacy.
Women often operate as accessories – no different than a gold chain, cars or designer clothes – as they signal that these men are sexually successful as money indicates that they are materially successful. The longer a rapper can maintain this image of sexual and material success, they ensure their legacy and can defend it against anyone who says otherwise.
This has always meant that women, especially Black women, are used as props in rap music — they are continually sexually degraded and called “bitches” and “hoes.” This is a consequence that women who love rap music and Hip Hop have long had to contend with. It’s a phenomenon that female rappers like Megan Thee Stallion try to turn on its head in their own music.
While the misogynoir that Black women face at the pens of male rappers is habitual at this point, it’s clear that this line may have been too far — regardless of its actual intention.
I feared that the drama would overshadow an otherwise amazing project, but upon my completion, realized that it was instead part of a pattern.
On “Her Loss,” frontman Drake exposes himself as insecure, obsessed with proving his talent to his haters and showing us that he’s still on top of his game, both in the bedroom and on the charts. The fact that he’s so talented only makes it more annoying.
His 16-year career has been nothing short of successful, with chart-topping albums and songs, awards and being one of the highest-paid rappers in the music industry. Having people want to tear him down is part of his climb to the top, but his focus on proving them wrong is only futile and repetitive.
Additionally, despite calling himself a “feminist” in one song, Drake talks about not listening to female rappers and calling the husband of legendary tennis player Serena Williams a “groupie” for supporting her at games. This is the same Drake known for being “in his feelings” and crooning over women who got away, from strippers to superstar ex-girlfriend Rihanna. The same Drake with a collection of Birkins in his house waiting for his future wife to claim them.
What appears to be an overcompensation over his talent as an artist and attraction as a man really are his insecurities shouting for validation. This attitude has been simmering for years, but as he approaches middle age, they might be getting louder.
As an avid Drake fan, I was disappointed with “Her Loss.” Sonically, it is well produced, but a slower listen to some lyrics highlights a more interesting story of a rich but perhaps lonely man still in search of himself. One nearly forgets that it’s a collaborative project with 21 Savage’s contributions outdone by Drake’s overpowering narcissism.
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