THIS IS MY JAM: Drake- “Furthest Thing”

by on October 4, 2013

Posted in: Hip Hop, R&B / Soul

In the summer of 2012, I saw Drake in concert. In the middle of his set, he knelt in the middle of the stage as all lights went out, save for a single spotlight that shone from the ceiling/the heavens right onto Drake as he proclaimed that he made music for “women who were destined to be women.” I have a grainy picture of it on my phone and someday I’ll probably get it framed.

Cut to November of 2011.  I’m a freshman and my transition to college is predictably horrific. I’m making sad mixtapes that I never send to my long distance boyfriend as our relationship starts to nosedive in a way that is nearly comical. I’m complaining about the social scene, my workload, the dinging menu selection- anything I can get my hands on. I’m getting cozy inside of all of my warm, fuzzy self-indulgent sadness and, just as I’m starting to feel a little complacent with all of my shoegaze and sap, Drake comes down on on the wings of an angel saying, “Oh just you wait” as he hands me a copy of “Take Care” before blasting off into heaven.

I listened to that album with a nearly religious fervor for months. I ran, cried, partied, broke up, broke down, and built up to that album. But, as it often happens, when you have an affair that intense with an artist, it can drain you of the ability to care about them in a similar capacity once you come out the other side. When I found out that “Nothing Was the Same” was going to be released I was excited enough- “Hold On We’re Going Home” played at regular intervals in my headphones- but I didn’t have many expectations for it. How could Drake strike that kind of kindred gold twice?

And “Nothing Was the Same” hasn’t swept me up in the same way. But the track “Furthest Thing” is getting close. It’s gorgeous and syrupy in that way that Drake tracks are, thanks to Noah “40” Shebib. The lyrics are also typical Drake, autobiographic and sensitive enough that you could make fun of them if you wanted to. But mid-way through the second verse kicks things into over-drive and I lose it, with Drake barely stopping to breathe as he admits :

I can’t help it, I can’t help it
I was young and I was selfish
I made every woman feel like she was mine and no one else’s
And now you hate me
Stop pretending, stop that fronting
I can’t take it
Girl don’t treat me like a stranger
Girl you know I seen ya naked

These aren’t the lyrics of someone who makes music for “women who are destined to be women.” This is music made for Drake, the guy who’s constantly messing up with women, treating them like girls; a guy who can’t realize he’s still acting young and selfish. Or can he? He’s made a career off of self-awareness. Drake’s often mocked for directing his music at women but what woman wants to hear this? And yet, I can’t run away from that stupid kernel of truth in there and I know there are plenty of women who will relate to hearing this. “Don’t treat me like a stranger” he begs. That’s often the way it is; None of us want to be vulnerable, to make mistakes, to admit them, and then be treated like we never happened.

The core of the song is Drake admitting that he’s still “the furthest thing form perfect.” After the fame and the accolades Drake is still putting his most vulnerable out there, and he wants us to do the same. What we get may not be appealing and I sure don’t think he does it for “women” but I think Drake knows that too. Confession and relation.That’s the basis of literature, of poetry of art-and of Drake. As the song spins and opens up into something grander in its final third I’m still holding my breath. When Drake cries out “This the shit I want to go out to” I can exhale again. Drake is telling his stories and he’s holding them up with all of their ugliness with pride. I love a good story and this is no exception. That it punches me in the gut with its honesty? Even better. This the shit I want to go out to too.

 

ALSO for a cool read on this song, check out this NPR article: http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2013/10/01/228235377/the-making-of-drakes-furthest-thing