This week we celebrate the musical stylings of Aubrey Drake Graham, whose latest album has dropped into our hearts after what feels like months of marketing, rumors, and tweets directly from me to him, flaunting our friendship for all to see.
But while we could go on about the artistic merit of Views or debate his choice of cover art, we’ve got bigger fish to fry today. In the course of the last six years, Drake’s style has evolved into that of the coolest dad. Which is an incredible feat, considering he isn’t one.
A few years after we met him in the role of high school basketball star Jimmy on Degrassi, Aubrey reemerged in 2007 alongside Trey Songz in the video for "Replacement Girl," clad in a style we can best describe as mid-noughties H&M chic.
Bless. Wearing sunglasses, a sweatshirt, and baggy gray denim, Aubs epitomized a muted-yet-OTT brand of millennial style through loud prints and accessories in neutral colors. In short, he dressed like a 21-year-old in a music video: looking casual, cool, and also like he would for sure meet you at the mall later, right across from Auntie Anne’s. (Hi!)
From there, Drake continued dressing like an early-20-something-year-old man who was desperately trying to figure out how an early-20-something-year-old man should dress. In 2010’s Kanye West–directed "Best I Ever Had" video, he appears as the coach of an all-women’s basketball team and spends his minutes clad in varsity gear adorned with "D." (Cute.) After that, he grew up a bit. "Successful" saw him invest in a proper leather jacket and fancy gold watch, while in "Forever," he and Eminem coordinated their hoodies for a night on the town.
Little did we know that in those four-ish minutes, Drake found his true self.
Since 2010, Drake has dressed and presented himself as a man of comfort. Whether engaging in a romantic entanglement in "Find Your Love" or lamenting his fame in "Over," Drizzy’s affinity for fleece, sneakers, t-shirts, and track pants rivals his love for any of his other song subjects. His style can best be seen at the Home Depot on a Saturday afternoon or while grilling a few burgs on the back deck on a brisk June eve. While his lyrics may allude to a life of glamorous madness, there’s nothing ostentatious about Drake from a style perspective. His clothing is almost strictly functional. Except for this:
At some point, Drake looked at those Nike gloves, that printed button-up, and that varsity jacket, and said, "I want all of them together in my music video, please."
We can assume that after the "Headlines" video in 2011, either Drake was told never to make aesthetic choices on such a public platform again, or the video’s stylist was fired immediately. The video for "The Motto" saw the return of his gloves — arguably the most dad move of all — paired with a South Pole jacket and a neutral wardrobe. Clearly Drake was back in the thick of dad functional realness. Even at his re–bar mitzvah in 2012, he kept it office-appropriate with a classic black suit and white button-up; the following year, "Started From the Bottom" saw him don an all-white winter-appropriate ensemble.
Which, for the record, is exactly the type of outfit you’d get mad at your dad for wearing for the family picture. ("Just wear jeans, Dad! God!")
This is just the tip of Drake’s fleece-coated iceberg. As his alliance with the Toronto Raptors grew (and he eventually became their global ambassador), he established himself both as the most enthusiastic fake-coach alive (like a father cheering for his dozen-or-so sons) and as a man with a penchant for warmth, since most of his courtside appearances were defined by a sweater game years in the making. (Papa!)
Before long, Drake was capitalizing on his parent-friendly approach to style. At the end of 2014, he opened an OVO Store in Toronto and then went on to release a line of Raptors/OVO clothing that was one-upped only by an unofficial sweatshirt created in his honor this past Christmas.
Granted, all of the above pale in comparison to the "Hotline Bling" video itself, a three-and-a-half-minute PSA for both winter-appropriate clothing (showcasing everything from a puffy coat to an oversize turtleneck) and for Drake’s emergence as the spokesman for Father Chic -- or, more accurately, his destiny:
Which may also explain why he’s bundled up so well while braving the breeze of the 6ix on his new album cover. It’s "Function Over Fashion: The Aubrey Drake Graham Story." After all, a guy that busy needs to dress for comfort after a long day of writing, recording, and overseeing Ontario’s capital.
Just pray that he never stumbles upon velour.