All it takes to break into the hip-hop game is one hot guest appearance or a buzzworthy mixtape track. The difficult thing, however, is maintaining that sort of energy and interest. [artist id="2545682"]Drake[/artist] proved that he was up to that task in 2010, and the fact that “Fancy” — which comes in at #7 on MTV News’ Top 25 Songs of the year — was not even a single and still managed to have the impact that it did is a testament to the 24-year-old Canadian’s skill and prowess.
When he first became the man of the moment in hip-hop, it was uncertain whether or not Drake would manage to keep up the buzz after the surprise success of “Best I Ever Had.” But Thank Me Later turned out to be one of those rare hip-hop albums that appealed to just about everybody. If you like sharp lyricism, you like Drake. If you like smooth R&B sounds, you like Drake. If you like gritty production, you like Drake. If you like dancing in a club, you like Drake. He’s everything to everyone, and yet somehow still a unique talent as comfortable with crooning as he is with freestyling.
Produced by Swizz Beatz and featuring guest vocals by Beatz and T.I., “Fancy” may just be the definitive Drake track. It takes a hypnotic, radio-friendly beat and crams in some killer couplets (“I’ve always liked my women book and street smart/ As long as they got a little class like half days,” and “Time heals all but heels hurt to walk in/ But they go with the clutch that you carry your lip gloss in,” for example), a catchy chorus (the line “Oh, you fancy, huh?” has become a catchphrase) and a little something for the ladies.
“It’s like preparation rap,” explained MTV News hip-hop writer Jayson Rodriguez. “It’s like when the girls are in the mirror and getting ready, and this is the soundtrack to that moment.”
The song is especially unique because it becomes almost a completely different song just before the three-minute mark. The beat slows down to a hazy crawl and Drake shifts into his disarmingly sweet baritone for some seductive crooning. By the end, all that’s left is the hum of the keyboards and Drake’s heartbreak. What begins as a triumphant club jam becomes something of a mournful dirge, and Drake manages to pull off both at the same time.
“Fancy” had its big moment at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, where Drake channeled the Rat Pack and turned the stage at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles into the Copacabana for a few minutes. It zeroed in on Drake’s main export: Sharp, undeniable cool.
“Fancy” happens to be the clearest expression of everything great about Drake.
“['Fancy'] encapsulates the Drake swagger that girls love so much,” points out MTV News pop writer Jocelyn Vena. Swagger is something that a lot of rappers talk about, but few walk the walk as well as Drake. For a song called “Fancy,” the message is pretty simple: Drake is unblinkingly cool.
Where would you place Drake’s “Fancy” among the top songs of 2010? Let us know in the comments!
MTV News’ Top 25 Songs of 2010 countdown continues. Make sure to keep checking back to see what song we’ve named #1, and don’t forget to share your picks with us in the comments below!