(Header image via YouTube)
Despite having just dropped his mixtape Dark Lane Demo Tapes in May, Drake is staying busy with his new album Certified Lover Boy, rumored to release in mid-September. With the influence of 2Pac and a return to Drake’s earlier music style, he released his song “Laugh Now Cry Later” (language) as the album’s precursor on August 13th.
How might this influence my teen?
Drake has a knack for producing catchy songs. He was recognized earlier this year as the artist to have the most songs hit the Billboard Hot 100 charts. But what message does his music carry? What influence is Drake having on his fans? On the one hand, Drake is no stranger to substance abuse, drama, or strong language, and often raps about these things in his music. On the other hand, he has a good sense of humor and isn’t afraid to explore difficult subjects, something Gen Z appreciates in artists.
Drake has been a prominent figure in pop culture, and will be for quite some time. So, when discussing this song with your teen, we encourage you to embrace what’s good while also recognizing what isn’t. When we’re quick to jump to the negatives, we shut down opportunities for discussion with our kids. It’s our goal as parents to try to understand the culture our kids are living in because in that genuine effort, we find incredible moments of connection.
Tired, but still fighting
Tired of beefin’ you bums,
You can’t even pay me enough to react.
Like many artists, Drake has had his fair share of public drama, and at times has used his music as a weapon against his rivals. Nevertheless, he expresses how he’s tired of fighting with other artists. It may seem like Drake is choosing to stay out of drama with the line above, but then he gets right back into it with the line:
Distance between us is not like a store,
This isn't a closeable gap
Drake has long-standing beef with artists like Kanye West and Pusha T. Rather than leaving this toxicity behind, Drake adds to the drama by calling them out. This lyric criticizes Kanye West’s recent 10-year contract with the clothing store Gap. Although Drake is not the harshest mainstream rapper out there, he also still brags about his riches, casually references substance abuse, and swears periodically (mainly the n-word) in this song.
Embracing the positives
Drake has earned respect in the music industry through his ability to rap/sing well and continuously make hit after hit. He also gains respect by supporting lesser-known artists by collaborating with them in his songs—like Lil’ Durk, the featured rapper on “Laugh Now Cry Later.” Drake could have easily collaborated with a famous artist for more revenue, but decided that uplifting lesser-known artists was more important.
Drake uses his status to prop up others in Hip Hop instead of using already established pop icons. You have to respect that. It’s good for the culture.— 🎹 (@Dr_Sweets23) August 14, 2020
Yet the music video isn’t without its cast of A-listers. Drake joined sports stars like Kevin Durant, Odell Beckham Jr., and Marshawn Lynch at Nike headquarters to shoot the music video, along with social media influencer Aggy Abby and comedian Druski2Funny.
Sometimes we laugh,
Sometimes we cry,
But I guess you know now, baby.
In the music video (language), Drake appears in a scene crying alone in a room. Druski2Funny enters the frame and asks Drake “What are you doing!?” After a few comedic moments, Drake explains himself by saying, “Nah, nah. It’s just been a long fight. It’s been a long fight, and I just have to have a warrior spirit. That’s all.”
Without any further explanation, Drake wipes away his tears and carries on with the music video. The joke with Druski2Funny is that usually these kinds of emotional moments are avoided among men, which is why Drake’s willingness to show emotional vulnerability is noteworthy. In showing his pain, Drake breaks down the stereotypical assumption that celebrities and men should always uphold their image and avoid weakness. In reality, It doesn’t matter how successful or masculine you are, we all experience pain and moments of vulnerability.
Similarly, Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3-4 says,
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...
Taking the time to both laugh and cry are essential for our mental health. God made us emotional beings, and ultimately wishes for us to be emotionally whole under Him.
Drake has sparked some controversy over his song and upcoming album. Some believe he’s too lighthearted and meme-minded with his constant use of the line “baby” and comedic breaks throughout the music video. Others focus on his musical talent and the potential of his new album. Here are some good questions to spark a meaningful conversation with your teen.
- Do you like Drake’s new song? Why or why not?
- What resonated with you the most? The least?
- What does Drake’s song reveal about pop culture?
- Will you listen to Drake’s album Certified Lover Boy when it's released? Why or why not?
- Do you respect Drake as an artist more or less after listening to “Laugh Now Cry Later”? Why?
- How does culture affect the way we communicate with others?
- How does your relationship with God affect the way you express your emotions?
- Is it important to be vulnerable with others? Why or why not?
- When was the last time you were open about your true feelings?
- What is the biggest obstacle you face when communicating your emotions?