December 31, 2013
“Down South” is a ubiquitous trope in the black American imagination, used to conjure actual and fictive remembrances of a space and time removed from and outside of modernity, the anti-present. It’s an imagined space through which one, usually a seasonal migrator or former southerner, or an altogether non-southerner, can safely navigate a number of complexities of personal history, home, memory, and angst. With the 10-minute video for “Worst Behavior” Drake uses the notion of Down South, and Memphis in particular, to narrate broader ideas about authenticity, masculinity, fatherhood, home, and longing.
man, muhfuckas neva loved us
Cash Money Records afforded Aubrey Drake Graham, the middle class biracial Jewish Canadian kid of Degrassi fame, a black audience and black working class authenticity through proximity to some New Orleans hot boys. This proximity, along with his rap prowess, has afforded Drake some space to blossom in a game that seemed to not yet have room for him. Still, jokes about Drake abound, with the rapper frequently making the problematical Top 10 Softest Rappers in the Game list and an infamous meme about his Dada outfit circulating through the interwebs in summer 2013. Further, Cash Money has not completely eradicated the artist’s authenticity troubles. Grumbles about “Started from the Bottom”–how dare a middle class Canadian kid talk about starting from the bottom?–revealed the intraracial class dynamics of the prerequisites for authenticity. That is, one might now be extraordinarily wealthy, but as long as she or he started from a legible bottom–say, the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans–one can enjoy unlimited authenticity, no matter how pop one becomes.