Over The Hip-Hop Hill


I’m young. I’m hip. I’m cool ... at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Part of being adorned with the dubious distinction of office millennial, is being in tune and in touch with today’s music scene.

I wanted to unwrap Drake’s latest album, “Scorpion,” with all 25 of its tracks currently on the Billboard Top 100. But, being that I’m from the front end of the millennial generation, I’ll heed some words that I recently heard Jay-Z speak, and be “true to myself.”

I like Drake’s music. I do. But, to be completely honest, I’m a little bit behind the times when it comes to that rap world.

My younger brother is 25 years old. He grew up listening to Drake’s early mix tapes while he was in high school. I poked fun at Drake’s rhymes and melodic approach to rap music for a few years. Because, from a very young age, I listened to a more rough-and-rugged genre of hip-hop.

Being from New York, among my first exposures to hip-hop was the Notorious B.I.G. My best friend, Tom, and I began listening to the album “Ready To Die” in 1994, on repeat, from age 8. We loved Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Tupac, among others.

So when my brother, Alex, started listening to Drake, 15 years later, I felt as though I held some higher level of knowledge, a refined palette, even. I beamed with a bit of pride to see him interested in lyricism, heavy hooks and bumping beats, but I was a bit of a rap snob.

It took several years for me to accept Drake and respect his claim on the game. I remember the day I discovered and realized that Drake had potential as the future king of hip hop.

It was 2012, I hadn’t listened to much music in the rap genre for several years. (I had been listening to a lot of rhythm and blues.) At the time, I was working three jobs, one of them as a delivery driver for a pizza place in Johnson City, N.Y.

It served liquor and beer, it had pool tables, video games and a digital jukebox.

On one of the countless super-late nights, just before 4 a.m., as I was preparing to sweep and mop the floors, I pulled a dollar from my jeans and slid it into the jukebox, thought of Alex, and played Drake. The song I chose was “Over” and it changed my perspective on the artist entirely.

Drake came onto the scene in 2009, and “Over” was a 2010 single, from the album “Thank Me Later.” That album debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 and is certified platinum.

Since that crazy early morning when I first bopped my head to the bumping beat, hummed over the heavy hook and shelled out six more dollars to hear his lyricism again and again, I’ve been a Drake fan.

Part of being adorned with the dubious distinction of office millennial is being in tune and in touch with today’s music scene.

Even though I grew up with the sounds of Brooklyn and Queens’ rap artists pumping up my speakers; even though I can recite a dozen-plus Eminem songs from memory, and even though I’ve owned every Jay-Z album ever made, I still feel Drake. And even though I really wanted to unwrap his album “Scorpion, I’ll leave that for the next generation and just stay “true to myself.”

Shaun Savarese is a reporter with The Daily Record. Reach him at 910-230-2040.


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