By Eóin Donnelly
“BREAKING NEWS: Today, a young man worth hundreds of millions of dollars handed away the entirety of his one-million dollar budget for his new chart-topping single to the citizens of Miami, Florida. This video will be seen by hundreds of millions of people in the coming weeks and billions more in the decades to come, putting smiles on the faces of anyone that is lucky enough to witness it. In just five minutes and fifty-five seconds, Drake’s ‘God’s Plan’ will imbue its viewers with renewed optimism and hope about the future of our planet, thus reifying the indefatigable imperative of promoting altruistic ideals among the wealthy elite in our divided global society. Even more remarkably, this video was made by a man who alternatively could have spent his day having sex with any woman in the world he so pleases, and all of this from a music genre that adheres to the Holy Trinity of Money, Profanity and Lust. Rap is still evil but we must give Drake his props- now here’s Frank Mitchell with the weather.” Just ONCE, I wish a major news bulletin could open like this… apart from the last two lines, obviously. Instead, they want you believing you’re gonna walk out your front door and get attacked by a rabid, crack-addicted, AIDS-infected pitbull that happened to evade the scrutiny of the FBI watchlist despite repeated infringements of the law.
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Keeping up-to-date with the cesspool of negativity that dominates current affairs coverage is like a form of Stockholm Syndrome. There is plenty of great things, great people and above all great art in the world, and I see it as my responsibility to shine a light on it. Here’s some more. Drake really means business in 2018. Between Drake’s illustrious career really getting off the ground with his 2009 mixtape So Far Gone all the way through to his last album More Life, he wasn’t off the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Not for one single day. It was an era of unprecedented success that looked like it would never end, but on 15 August 2017 that finally changed and Drake’s record 431-week consecutive run on the Billboard chart was over. Maybe he seen it coming. The solipsistic worldview that initially made Drake so intriguing in the hip-hop landscape was beginning to grow tiresome as of 2017, and More Life’s album closer ‘Do Not Disturb’ ended with a final declaration of intent:
“My life is centered ’round competition and currency
Takin’ summer off, ’cause they tell me I need recovery
Maybe gettin’ back to my regular life will humble me
I’ll be back in 2018 to give you the summary”
He wasn’t kidding. Clearly humbled and evidently recharged, the new visual for Drake’s ‘God Plan’- which I covered on the day of release- is the culmination of what has been a rip-roaring start to life in 2018 for Mr Aubrey Graham. Not since 2015’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late has Drake rapped as well as he has been on his own ‘Diplomatic Immunity’ and Blocboy JB’s ‘Look Alive’, but it’s the ‘God’s Plan’ video that will have people talking more than a hot verse ever could. No amount of flame emojis can warm hearts like charitable public service. That sounds cheesier than eating a large pizza to the Backstreet Boys’ Greatest Hits but I’m sticking with it.
“The budget for this video was $996,631.90”, reads the opening frame of ‘God’s Plan.’ “We gave it all away. Don’t tell the label.” In a week that brought horrifying carnage at a school in Florida with depressingly blasé ‘responses’ from the public figures that govern America, Drake’s selfless act of philanthropy at the University of Miami could not have been more timely. Charities, firemen, students and women’s shelters are all among those who benefit from Drake’s generosity in a video that could just easily have sparked another fortnight-long dance craze in less thoughtful hands. Evil atrocities are the bread-and-butter that keep our morally corrupt mainstream media nourished, but I know which story I would rather focus on. Combined with Kendrick Lamar paying for 1000 kids from Los Angeles’s housing projects to go and see the worth-the-hype blockbuster Black Panther as well as Netflix’s new documentary Coach Snoop following Snoop Dogg coaching a youth football league, ‘God’s Plan’ is a vitally important, socially responsible step in altering the perception of hip-hop. Referring to the moment as the “most important thing” he’s done in his career, ‘God’s Plan’ will hopefully mark a new phase in Drake’s career that looks outward in recognition of his arguably unmatched position as an entertainer that can empower ordinary people. Take it from the King of Pop: for every ‘Marvin’s Room’ you need a ‘Man In The Mirror.’
Vacuous exhibitions of fancy cars, scantily-clad women and ostentatious jewellery isn’t why I love hip-hop. It’s people like Drake, like Kendrick and like Snoop, generational doyens with arsenals of unlimited luxury and hedonistic indulgence at their disposal who nevertheless make the world a little better with one gesture of love at a time. “Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts”, Paul Simon once sang. I urge you to choose wisely.