What you won't read in Drake's second-ever VIBE cover story
It’s nearly 1 a.m. on a chilly November night and Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena is dead. Two hours ago, the Bobcats’ stomping grounds was bustling as Drake’s Would You Like A Tour? concert sent thousands home reciting their favorite Nothing Was The Same tracks. But now, it's just you and Toronto's greatest rapper tucked away in a Drakified team locker room for the encore presentation: A first-listen of Drizzy's new collaboration with Beyoncé, “Mine,” which he finished recording last night.
He’ll allude to the the track a few times before finally pressing play on a song that’s definitely not Bey. From the two seconds that slip, it sounds like Jet Life artist MaryGold, who makes a quick cameo at the end of his “Worst Behavior” video. Fingertips suddenly sweaty, you brace yourself as he reassesses his cluttered MacBook Pro desktop. And then it hits. Slow and somber, the opening stanza erupts from dancing piano keys to nimble percussion. He’ll narrate as the instrumental blooms. “Sampha’s on this, too,” he informs. When you mention that her lyrics have that signature Drake transparency he chuckles and offers a modest thanks.
“I had fun with it. I always wanted to write for her,” says the singing rapper, careful to embargo the then-untitled track from Bey’s hush-hush fifth solo LP. “She never really sings that minimal... We’ll see where that goes.”
Drake has been chatting for quite a bit longer than the scant 40 minutes allotted by his management for this cover story, but he doesn’t seem to be in a rush. There's none of the “Get the fuck up out my dressing room confusing me with questions” bitterness that he expresses on “HYFR.” He wants to deconstruct his new album as thoroughly as possible, while his security, managers, father and OVO fam members shoot the shit outside. He smiles big and often, punctuating and tenderizing his more confident or abrasive statements. We’ll go on some tangents, but after an hour-and-a-half interview there’s a bit more goodness than there are pages to print. From whether he’d ever record a concept LP to Mase’s resurgence to NWTS's follow-up, here’s the best of what was left on the cutting room floor. —John Kennedy
VIBE: You start the song “Furthest Thing” with the line, “Somewhere between psychotic and iconic.” What does that place feel like?
Drake: It’s just forever hanging in the balance of knowing in the far-off distance there’s this vision of being as legendary as Hov, Pac, Bob Marley—who knows what the possibilities are? I’m not sure what I mean to this generation; I won’t understand until the story plays out. But there is that vision of the legacy. There’s also so many opportunities to plummet and not reach that. I keep pushing forward, but sometimes I glance back like, Damn, that shit’s crazy back there. Look at all those guys back there. That shit’s scary. That shit can drive you crazy. That’s what that line means to me. There are two directions you can go. It’s up to you.
That song is one of a few where the beat evolves as you listen. That’s always been a musical theme for you, but it’s a bit more conspicuous here than in your prior works.
I gotta give the credit to 40. He wouldn’t just let a beat sit. I would leave the studio and by the time I came back the next day, he’d be like “I added some shit.” Even this Beyoncé record that we did (“Mine”). It’s kinda like ever-evolving, but I felt like we were working on an album and sitting on it for so long. We played [songs] for people and I started hearing that formula on other people’s stuff, too. That’s nothing to coin, to say we started that. But I think 40 does it the best out of everybody. He’s just been so amazing at making a piece grow or shrink, but it was all credit due to him for that. He was the mastermind behind the music.
You experiment with different flows on this one, too. Was that a conscious thing?
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