If this is a celebration, someone forgot to tell Drake and Trey Songz.
When two hot, young talents collaborate on a song and it’s called “Successful,” well, you pretty much know what to expect: big, coated beats, slinky, treated vocals, and plenty of ephemera (cars, clothes, cash, clubs, chicks, etc.). There’s a formula to these things, after all.
But here’s the thing: “Successful” — which features prominently on Drake’s breakout So Far Gone mixtape and Songz Ready album (which hits stores Tuesday) — is delightfully devoid of any of that stuff. This is a lean, dark, downright ominous song, full of eerie strings, cracking snares and bottomless white noise (the production is courtesy of Noah “40″ Shebib) and lyrics that poke holes through the premise that riches equal happiness.
Drake displays a depth some might not expect, rapping about meaningless sex, empty excess and the bizarre solitude that comes with success. On the hook, Songz is so cold he’s near frozen, crooning about the money and cars and clothes, all while conveying an unspoken emptiness. It’s chilling — deeply, artfully and sadly so.
And in keeping with that theme, everyone looks positively somber in the video too. It’s moody, noirish, full of bleak cityscapes, empty hotel rooms and darkened urban streets. The message is clear, and rather shockingly so: Be careful what you wish for. Drake and Songz have the world at their feet. But if “Successful” cautions one thing, it’s this: Heavy is the head that wears the crown.