Music and Masculinity: An examination of Drake's work

The album cover for Drake's "Views."

“Bro, do you even lift?” The musical equivalent to this question is, “Bro, do you even listen to Drake?”

Like the first question, it is meant to insult men of their masculinity. Music in the world of males is funny in the way that men hold a certain standard for other men in regards to what they should listen to, instead of respecting their of individual taste.

A man gets ridiculed by other men if his choices in art are not masculine enough. It essentially comes down to, “If you don’t listen to Drake, then you’re not as cool as me.”  

On Drake’s new album, “Views,” Rolling Stone said it was, “increasingly shallow in his thematic concerns, and ultimately slender in the scope of his creative ambitions.” Countless other reviews of “Views” have similar convictions. Pitchfork said, “Views is what happens when venturing turns into whining. Spanning an obnoxious 82 minutes, the record goes through several musical and thematic phases, but the overall atmosphere is bitter, petty, worn-down. It confuses loyalty and stagnation, wallowing in a sound that is starting to show its limits.”

Also HipHopDX said, “What could have been a carefully curated display of pop-sensibility and hit-making turns out to be an elongated crawl through the desolate psyche of a man whose previously endearing introspection has been eclipsed by self-absorption.”

Despite these reviews, the commercial success of “Views” has been spectacular. In the United States, “Views” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with 1.04 million equivalent album units, selling 852,000 copies in its first week of release, and achieving over 245 million streams. As of July 17, the album has spent 10 weeks at No. 1 on the charts.

So the question is, if Drake’s artistry on this album falls short then why is it so successful? The answer is his popular brand/legacy of masculinity. Drake’s image and lyrics on “Views” is largely related to him having women.

In a hit off the album, “Hotline Bling,” there’s a section of the song where he says, “Doing things I taught you, getting nasty for someone else/You don’t need no one else/You don’t need nobody else.” This song implies that he was so “good” that he was taken advantage of, especially when he says, “You used to call me on my cellphone, late night when you need my love.” This type of confidence/masculinity in relation to having women is one of the things that attracts men to listen to Drake, because they want to be him.

Other references to him having women are the endless sexual innuendos. In a hit off of “Views”, is the song “One Dance,” where Drake raps, “Got a pretty girl and she love me long time/Wine it, wine it, very long time/Oh, yeah, she steady on grindin’...”

Another hit off the album is “Controlla,” where in one of the lines Drake says, “She love when we do it all night/And she make it clap when she ride my bike/She cock it up on the private flight/For me to lace her up like my brand new Nike…” This reference to sex in these lyrics is ultimately an attempt to try and sound masculine, powerful, whatever. The same goes for when he references money, because he mentions that he can afford “brand new Nike”.

In the same song, he references money again when he sings, “Them girls, they just wanna take my money/They don’t want me to give you nothing…” This line implies that he has girls lining up tio take his money.

There is no doubt that men have a certain standard when it comes to music. Drake is just a mere example of the underlying issue that men judge other men when it comes to music and masculinity.


Genevieve Luce is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at genevieve.luce@uconn.edu