Your favorite rapper now goes to parent-teacher conferences. Yes Lord!
Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From Drizzy’s new washed sensibility to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re loving what you’re reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.
Almost a year ago, I wrote an article about Drake. In it, I talked about how I’d identified so much with his music when I was 22 — but then, as we both grew into our mid-thirties over the next decade, he basically kept making music for 22-year-olds. The article, predictably, got held up by Drake fans as some sort of scathing takedown of his music and artistry. But that’s how the internet works. I also got a lot of “he just doesn’t make music for you, old man*” from twentysomethings — which was exactly my point.
Fast forward to this past Friday, when Drake dropped Scary Hours 2, an EP of songs meant to keep the buzz going for his gonna-drop-at-some-point album Certified Lover Boy. The material, finally, hints at a desire to evolve beyond being the hitmaker who drops TikTok dance anthems. Not everything has changed: The hooks are still full of catchphrases and tracks that immediately topped the charts because that’s what Drake does and will always do. He’s never going to suddenly become Phonte or Black Thought. But these first few tracks have some signs of maturity.
On “Lemon Pepper Freestyle” with Rick Ross, Drake goes on a three-minute bar-fest that’s as sharp as anything he’s dropped in years. But more importantly, he talks about going to parent-teacher conferences. That’s right: Drake is rapping about some of the washed life of a thirtysomething. Okay, sure, he’s rapping about how the other moms there hit on him — but it’s a start. On “What’s Next,” Drake has a hook that includes “Well, summer, all I did was rest, okay? And New Year’s, all I did was stretch, okay?” That’s the sound of a flag getting planted firmly on the side of the washed.
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Sorry, Gen Z: Drake belongs to us now, babyyyyy! Drake is a 34-year-old dad who pays child support and drops his kid off at school and when he gets out of bed something in his body that aches and he doesn’t quite know why. We as millenials have reclaimed our chart-topping messiah. You hear that, kids?! Go listen to Lil Tink Tink or Baby Toddler Jones and move your arms like you’re fighting Ip Man and leave us the hell alone. Drake is home! And — wait for it — nothing was the same.
— David Dennis Jr., senior staff writer
*I would make fun of a 20-year-old for thinking a 34-year-old rapper is part of their generation or telling them what’s cool, but I used to be 19 going to the clubs looking like an assistant deacon on casual 5th Sunday service because 35-year-old Jay-Z told me to wear button-ups. I get it.
This Week in Racism
🗑 Okay, It’s Officially Time to Rename February “(That’s Not How You Teach) Black History Month”
A couple of weeks ago we brought you the story of a college professor who thought writing Tupac’s backronym for the N-bomb and asking students to pretend to be confined to a slave ship was Good Pedagogy. As it turns out, she was far from the only educator who showed such sterling instincts. Mississippi eighth-graders were asked to write letters from the vantage point of an enslaved person; in Florida, a high school teacher told students that white people didn’t whip enslaved people; in previous years, bad ideas ranged from mock slave auctions in classrooms to “Let’s Make a Slave” essay assignments. Now, look, we may not have gotten advanced degrees in education, but we’re gonna go ahead and say JUST STOP TRYING TO “IMMERSE” STUDENTS IN SLAVERY. No good can come of it — actually, forget that. It might just be a public service. If teachers this boneheaded were just talking about multiplication tables and geology, how else would we know they had no right being anywhere near our kids? (USA Today)
🗑 So a Few White Ladies Love Raccoons — What’s the Big Deal?
Meanwhile, over in Missouri, a group of teachers ably demonstrated that religious schools are no exception. During a game of “human Scrabble” — what could go wrong? — five faculty members from St. Charles County’s Christian School District posed for a photo holding tiles that spelled out the word COONS. Only one of the five white women wasn’t wearing a mask, so we can’t vouch for the fact that the other four shared her shit-eating grin, but we can vouch for the fact that ? Students were pissed; parents were pissed; the school’s basketball coach decided to smooth things over by telling everyone they were overreacting. “Everybody in the world makes mistakes, everybody in the world has faults and this is just a little fault that we’ve had,” said John Smith, which we feel compelled to point out is the boiled chicken of names. “This is not our school. I truly believe that they did not know what they were posting.” We feel compelled to ask: if they didn’t know what they were posting, do we really want them teaching our children spelling and English? Get back to us on that one. (KSDK NBC 5)
🗑 Welcome Back to Another Edition of “Racist Boomer Facebook Post Countdown”!
The universe of Old People Facebook Memes is vast and varied, friends. You’ve got your “what’s up with these kids today” chain letters; you’ve got your “remember life before erectile dysfunction?” cartoon knee-slappers; and perhaps most popular and widespread, you’ve got your “political correctness run amok!” bilgewater filtered through decades of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News conditioning. Recently, Missouri businessman William Brown — what the hell is going on Missouri, anyway? — opted for Door 3. “Can we still order Black coffee???” his post began, with all the originality of an open-mic comic going off on airplane food. “Are Brownies being taken off the shelf? Is White Castle changing [its] name?” Stop, Bill, you’re killing us! Our sides! Brown went on to make similarly hilarious musings about Cracker Barrel, Chinese checkers, “Indian burns,” and Italian sausages, before ending on the capper, “How far do ya want to go with this foolishness?” We don’t know how the town of Lee’s Summit works, but we do know that Brown is a prominent supporter of the local school district, which seems to leave said school district with a question they need to answer: how far do ya want to go with this foolishness? (Kansas City Star)
The LEVEL Up: Culture Picks From the Editors
🎧 “Leave the Door Open,” Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars
We never expected Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak to join forces for a collaborative album, but when word got out last month, it made too much sense. The two soul brothers dropped the first single from their upcoming Silk Sonic album, and it’s a whole vibe. Things start off smooth with a conversational verse from Anderson, complete with his own sung ad-libs. Then Bruno comes in with that irresistible falsetto that’s made him a living legend, and the situation crescendos into a whole-ass old-school love song. Get your two-step ready! (Spotify)
🥣 Nature’s Cereal
The latest food trend has arrived — and it’s good as hell. TikTok user @natures_food has gone viral on the video-sharing social network with an alarmingly delicious, vegan-friendly recipe for what he’s dubbed “Nature’s Cereal” — a mix of blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate seeds, and coconut water. Lizzo is already on the wave; whip up a bowl for yourself and/or your kid to score some cool points while eating healthy. (TikTok)
Life comes at you fast. This is especially true in this Netflix crime drama series that follows a music video director who ventures into the underbelly of France to capture a trapper-turnt-rapper in his natural element. (Clearly, this dude has never seen Snow on the Bluff.) If you can tolerate the English audio dubs, this looks to be a thrilling ride that’s much grittier than Lupin. (3/10, Netflix)
LEVEL Read of the Week
We Should Have Held T.I. Accountable Years Ago
When Clifford Harris, Jr. went on a podcast in 2019 and detailed how he’d taken his teenage daughter to the gynecologist to make sure she was still a virgin, people rightly got upset. But those who saw it for what it was — a bright red flag — got told they were overthinking an overprotective father. Now, as sexual assault allegations from young women continue to mount against the rapper and his wife, Tiny, David Dennis Jr. points out one very important truth: we’ve turned a blind eye to the obvious for far too long. Read the story here.
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