Last week, Drake dropped the video for a new song with 21 Savage called “Sneakin’,” and ultimately morphed into Wes Bentley in American Beauty as he screened footage of that godforsaken plastic bag.
I can see it now:
Drake: “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in this world, I feel like I can’t take it.”
Pizza delivery guy: “That is really super cool, man, but your total is $16.50 and I gotta go.”
Because I’ll be honest: “Sneakin’” does a phenomenal job of capturing the magic of a high school senior’s passion project. It embodies Dawson Leery levels of self-seriousness, and while I’d like to think there has to be a knowing wink somewhere in his exploration of lo-fi film quality, you and I both know this is merely another exercise in Drake’s ongoing side career as a visual artist. It is Aubrey’s latest attempt to break into film, or at least to leave another breadcumb on the trail of him proving to us that he “gets” cinema.
So here is what I believe he’s been trying to teach us in the wake of his videos, his acting, and his abandonment of narrative for the sake of novelty film quality. Here, my friends, is Drizzy Drake’s Guide To Film.
Keep It Dark
Aubrey Graham seems like someone who has a Pulp Fiction poster on his bedroom wall. At least once, I’m sure he’s suggested that a friend “Go to the mattresses” without any reference whatsoever to You’ve Got Mail. He probably owns The Wolf of Wall Street on Blu-ray and DVD, and watches it to get inspired. I can surmise this from his videos, yes, but it’s also obvious from Please Forgive Me, the short film he dropped this autumn. From the lighting, the smoldering stares, the murder plot, and everything else that unfolds over the short’s 1,244 minutes (that’s what it felt like), it’s safe to assume that Drake believes that more is more, drama is hot, and the darker a production can go, the more likely it will become this generation’s Scarface.
Also because he has
directly ripped off paid tender homage to Scarface before.
Uphold the Legend
But just to add to the myth of Scarface for a second: Drake primarily stars in videos in which he pines over a woman, fights over a woman, or has been wronged by a woman, so we can assume that he prefers characters and films that follow roughly the same narrative. Namely, according to Drake, Drake is the hero. Drake is always the hero. Drake is a jilted hero, a tragic hero, a masculine hero, and an excessive hero. He is Netflix’s Movies With A Strong Male Lead™ — surely his favorite category to scroll through.
Act Like You’ve Never Acted Before
If his years on Degrassi hadn’t given him away, Aubrey’s penchant for emoting should’ve been obvious upon the 2011 release of “Marvins Room,” a video that sees him battle his inner demons while exchanging more than a few smoldering stares (at one point with himself).
Drake has feelings that he would like you to know about. Drake has facial expressions that he would like you to recognize. Drake heard the word “angst” once and has worked very hard to embody it as a performer. Drake wants you to know his characters are tortured, and that they’ve “seen a thing or two.” Drake is waiting for you to say, “I don’t know where Drake ends and Aubrey Graham begins” so he can laugh nonchalantly and knowingly like Leonardo DiCaprio did during his Oscar campaign for The Revenant and you can say, “Wow, he’s so down to earth.” Drake would like you to give him an Oscar one day.
Keep the Persona Close
On the other hand, Drizzy’s tendency to play the same characters while also playing himself (all puns intended) tells us that Drake respects actors who maintain a sense of self within their roles. Think Robert De Niro until the late 1990s; Al Pacino until the late 1990s; Arnold Schwarzenegger until ... well, Arnold Schwarzenegger now; Liam Neeson circa Taken; Jason Statham until he showed up in Spy and made us laugh a lot.
So while Aubrey’s always had a flair for drama, his tendency to intertwine the person he wants us to think he actually is with the “characters” he plays has amped up over the last couple of months. Enter: “Sneakin’,” the cherry atop an intricately iced PR cake. Because think about it: Who is he in this short film? Is he Drake the Rapper? Is he Aubrey the Person? Is this his life, or what we think his life is? Is this an extension of his larger mythos? We will never know (until he starts doing romantic comedies).
Abandon These Dramatic Endeavors
Drake is not a Leo. As in: He will not work his whole life for that tiny gold man while giving interviews about eating bison liver. Instead, he is a man of quantity. He releases projects, videos, and music at a rapid pace, using them to build a path to what he believes is Oscar glory. But this pace isn’t sustainable. As evidenced by Jude Law in the 2000s or Benedict Cumberbatch back in 2013, it’s exhausting to see the same actors in the same type of roles until they give us a break and go away for a while, choosing projects that are as fun for them as they are for us. And while Drake may be pretending to have fun drinking out of a chalice, even Liam Neeson needed to voice a villain in The Lego Movie after years of keeping it tough.
What I’m saying is that we are about six years out from Drake smoldering and smirking his way through his star turn in a Nancy Meyers film. And if you dare doubt me, obviously you already forgot how sharp he looks in a neutral-toned turtleneck.