The Revolutionary Paideia 2011 Person of the Year & December 2011 Person of the Month: Drake

Although many other people were strongly considered for The Revolutionary Paideia 2011 Person of the Year, Drake was finally selected.  With Drake’s recent impressive sales on his sophomore rap album, Take Care, he deserves to be recognized as The Revolutionary Paideia December 2011 Person of the Month.  Drake embodies the “unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing” spirit that found this site.  Drake is a rapper who does not try to fit the traditional rap mold.  He doesn’t try to be a gangsta rapper or act all “hard” just to appease those who expect all men, including male rappers, to be hypermasculine.  You won’t find Drake talking about gangbanging and dope dealing in his art.  What you will hear, however, is a truly one of a kind rapper who is not afraid to challenge the status quo in rap music and in Hip-Hop in general.

Take Care sold over 630,000 copies in the first week it was released (Take Care’s First Week Sells).  The early success of the album is evidence of Drake’s serious commitment to continuing to ameliorate his craft.  Drake is simply not another rapper and Hip-Hop artist—he’s a talent reconceptualizing the way we think about rap music, Hip-Hop, masculinity, success, and much more.  If you’re looking for a positive example in rap music and Hip-Hop, Drake is one of the best examples of rap music and Hip-Hop at their best.

Because Drake has elected to not be a gangsta rapper and be “hard,” he has come under attack from many people.  Even someone who I deeply admire, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, expressed that he hates Drake.  For someone who does not know him personally, that’s certainly too strong of an emotion to have.  Those who claim to be “thugs” find Drake to be too “soft” to be considered a real rapper, and they argue that he is more of a pop singer than a rapper because he sings on some of his rap songs.  Why hate on this man’s ability to sing?  So do you have to be a “thug” to be a real rapper?  Do you have to be gangsta rapper to be a true rapper?  Do you have to have been in jail, sell and use dope, grew up poor, and have lyrics permeated with violence to be a real rapper?  The answer to the three aforementioned questions is no.  Getting that answer across to many people is a difficult task, however.

It is with great pleasure that I name Drake The Revolutionary Paideia 2011 Person of the Year and The Revolutionary Paideia December 2011 Person of the Month.  With so many unsubstantiated attacks on Drake that one can find on the internet, including Twitter and Facebook, it is my hope that this piece will offer a refreshing and positive look into one of the greatest rappers, artists, and Hip-Hop figures to ever live.  These awards given by Revolutionary Paideia are small tokens of love and appreciation for this great man and artist.  Continue to do spectacular things and continue to be who you really are.  Congrats, Drake!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Marc Lamont Hill’s “Hate” for Drake: A Respectful Response

Marc Lamont Hill

Although I have the greatest respect for Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Columbia University professor, published scholar, and Fox News contributor, I have to respond to his most recent article, “I Hate Drake. There. I Said It” (http://www.theloop21.com/society/i-hate-drake-there-i-said-it). I am such a fan of Dr. Hill. I have read his academic publications, follow his writings on his website (www.marclamonthill.com), have permanently linked his website on my blog, and I follow him on Facebook and Twitter. I posit that Dr. Hill is one the brightest minds and great public intellectuals of our time. Having said all of this, I am quite unsettled and unnerved by his comment that he “hates” Drake. The purpose of this article is to express my problems with Dr. Hill’s promulgation of his “hate” for Drake, and to respond to his problems with some of the current artists on the hip-hop scene.

First of all, the word “hate” is a powerful word to direct at a person. Dr. Hill is a scholar and social justice activist who fights against past and postmodern “hate” and discrimination in his work inside and outside of the academy. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “We who seek justice will have to do justice to others.” While I certainly support and embrace Gandhi’s statement, Dr. Hill’s recent comments about Drake do not reflect that he supports and embraces this statement in its totality. He has to understand that his investment in elucidating and illuminating the value of hip-hop is significantly undermined when he uses such language to attack one of the leading hip-hop artists, Drake. Marc makes me wonder if he has a problem with the reality that Drake is half Canadian and the fact that he is one of the most prominent faces on the current hip-hop scene. Although Dr. Hill argues that this is not the case, the fact that he does not give his reader a strong understanding as to why he “hates” Drake makes me really curious (at best). Now, Drake’s music alone cannot cause Marc to legitimately hate Drake. I would love for him to offer his readers a more thorough explanation for why he hates Drake.

Dr. Hill tries to make the argument that Drake’s lyrics lack substance. I would like to encourage him to engage in a deeper exploration of the powerful messages communicated by Drake’s “Over” and “Successful.” When you listen to these two songs, Dr. Hill, you cannot honestly say that Drake is just a “pop song writer.”  Dr. Hill, even some of the greatest rappers attempted to sing parts of their verses; therefore, Drake should not be penalized because he can sing. If Drake does have a proclivity to resort to the superficial instead of the substantial in his work (as Dr. Hill asserts), then it is more of a reflection of how artists are conforming to the cultural logic of late capitalism and not simply something Drake should be held solely responsible for.

Dr. Hill seems to want rappers to be in the mold of Nas. He will not consider a rapper a true MC if he does not reflect the rap tradition of rappers like Nas. I find this to be highly problematic. For hip-hop to be true hip-hop, it does not have to fit Marc’s limited definition of it. It does not have to simply be highly reflective of rappers like Nas. One of the dimensions of hip-hop that people have grown to love is its ability to accommodate new artists and their particular expressions within hip-hop. Hip-hop, at its best, is about tolerance. Drake’s style of hip-hop, which I do not see as departing from traditional hip-hop in any subversive or meaningful way, respects the tradition of hip-hop. Drake is a serious hip-hop lyricist and MC—no matter what Dr. Hill says (no disrespect).

Marc said that Drake has a fake Southern-style voice, one that is tailored for corporate interests. Well, Marc, I was born and reared in the South and I certainly do not hear any southern accent in Drake’s sound. I simply need Dr. Hill to be more thorough in his examination of Drake, and to give stronger reasons for his “hate” for Drake. Even when I have disagreed with Marc in the past on issues, I have always understood his arguments and rationales. On this issue, however, Marc has left me (and us) with much to be desired.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison