This week Drake officially crowns himself the current king of not only the rap charts, but moving the needle (both on and offline) with the release of his third album, Nothing Was the Same. The buzz around the rapper has swelled to almost insane levels thanks to a smart roll out that featured album art people either loved or hated instantly, the track “Wu-Tang Forever,” which (of course) pissed off rap traditionalists to no end; and Drake’s long-running infatuation with being the rapping/singing pop star du jour. These are all necessary qualifications for any buzzworthy album, but something else goes without saying–Drake loves Houston, Texas. No one man has flown a more appreciative Canuck flag for Houston than Drake, and little reminders of that are all over Nothing Was the Same.
Unlike, for example, A$AP Rocky or a few others who find themselves enamored with H-Town culture, Drake has been in the city enough enough to really know it. He’s an honorary Houstonian.
With that, we open up our NWTS lyric sheet to read every major Houston reference like a seance.
SONG: “FROM TIME”
1. “Thinkin’ ’bout Texas/ Back when Porsche used to work at Treasures”
Before it started losing its luster thanks to police raids, a reputation for prostitution and drugs, and so on, Treasures was a pretty popular strip club on the Westheimer strip, a few minutes away from the Galleria that manages to make the local news on a near weekly basis. Also: bonus points to Porche, which is a great stripper name.
2. “Or further back than that/ Before I had the Houston leverage”
Let’s take it back to 2008, shall we? A year before So Far Gone changed the course of his life, Drake was pretty much like any other rapper–a kid who wanted to be heard and taken seriously. So, strippers are probably the safest people to having judge-free conversations with, due to the fact that they, well, bare everything on a near-nightly basis.
Three songs into his conversation with Porsche, Drake immediately realizes she may not have his best interests at heart when she says he’ll never be bigger than Trey Songz. Come a long way from “Replacement Girl,” haven’t we?
3. “Now it’s therapeutic/ Blowin’ money in the Galleria”
The Galleria is Houston’s biggest, most posh malls. Is this where Drake stole his mom’s credit card to buy Michael Kors for chicks? Possibly.
SONG: “305 TO MY CITY”
4. “281 to my city/ Heard you had trouble at customs…”
Drake is no stranger to flying chicks out. He’s no stranger to the 713/281/832 area codes that happen to make up much of greater Houston, either. See a pattern here? Flying Houston women up to Toronto is one thing. Knowing that they have to clear customs is an entirely different matter.
SONG: “TOO MUCH”
5. “Like H-Town in the summertime, I keep it 100/ Met a lot of girls in my times there/ Word to Paul Wall, not one fronted”
Let’s break this down. It’s hotter than hell in Houston in the summertime. The temperature often tops 100 degrees. Drake also keeps it real, hence the phrase “Keep It 100.” But OneHunnidt is also the namesake of a Houston rapper. Drake shouts out Onehunnidt’s brother JJ (né Jonathan Johnson) on 2010’s “Miss Me,” released the same year JJ died from multiple gunshot wounds.
6. “Backstage at Warehouse in ’09 like, ‘Is Bun coming?/ Fuck that, is anyone coming ‘fore I show up there and there’s no one there?’/ These days, I could probably pack it for like 20 nights if I go in there”
In 2009, Drake had his first Houston show ever at Warehouse Live. (Video above.) While he was wondering about how the crowd would receive him, he was also wondering about the ace up his sleeve in Bun B coming out.
It’s no secret Bun is the most omnipresent being in the entire city of Houston. Name a decent rap show in the city and he’ll magically appear with a fitted hat, his favorite pair of sneakers that day and an elder-statesman reverence about him. Of course Bun appeared from backstage to perform “Uptown” with Drake.
These days, a Drake concert at Warehouse Live would be absolute pandemonium. The venue’s ballroom, which holds approximately 1,500-2,000 people, pales in comparison to the city’s largest venue for rap acts, Toyota Center. (To date, no rap act has held a solo show inside Reliant Stadium, the city’s biggest venue.) Drake could probably sell out 20 consecutive dates at Warehouse today.