After several failed attempts to assert his legitimacy as a rap god and prove the immeasurability of his manhood, Drake made the long-awaited announcement yesterday that his entire career is a joke through the music video release of “Worst Behavior.” The aptly named piece is a ten-minute-and-eighteen-second long series of failed vignettes interrupted by brief pieces of the song itself. If watched carefully enough, however, the subtext underneath this disconcerting narrative shines light on the startling reality that Drake has actually known all along that he’s a subpar artist and largely exaggerates his abilities. Read on for a scene by scene breakdown on why the joke’s really been on us.
“Worst Behavior” begins innocently enough, with an exploration of Royal Studios and the dynamics within a group of old men performing a blues-y jazz song. The studio itself was originally owned by Drake’s uncle/famed musician Willie Mitchell–a fact that the video does not let go unnoticed by making repeated glances at photographs and murals of him. Another family member of Drake–his father–is soon revealed to be the singer of the group recording in the cozy light of the studio. It’s a heady mix of nostalgia, magic, and soul. And it has to be, since it is Drake’s tribute to the musical style and essence that he has always appeared to strive for. Chaos ensues.
Drake’s father and all of the other old men recording with him at Royal Studios are suddenly decked out in fine suits and jewels and teleported to a parking lot filled with pink convertibles. Drake’s father begins to lip sync to Drake’s voice, and the song officially starts. This moment is momentous. It is Drake’s declaration that absolutely anybody from anywhere could do what he does for a living, since it’s not much more than hitting a certain quota of awkward poses in front of expensive things. Drake is letting us know that HE knows that he looks just as ridiculous as his father when he acts that way.
Drake suddenly appears with several small children while screaming “MOTHER FUCKER NEVER LOVED US!” 33,000 times in a row. As if this isn’t terrifying enough, Drake directly addresses the camera during the whole scene. The power of this moment lies in it’s dedicated repetition of a ho-hum lyric directly to a group of easily-influenced youth. Drake wants to hammer home the point that “Drake”‘s rap game rests on a weak foundation. He wants us to know that “Drake” doesn’t really–and never really has had–anything substantial to say to anybody. The real mother fucker who never loved us is Drake.
The next scene involves people named Project “Patty Cakes” Pat, Riot, Drizzy, Juicy J, and OB. OB wears an owl suit and engages Juicy J in awkward ginger small talk about the greatness of shrimp scampi before forcing two of his cheaply-made demos on him. The scene feels like an educational video where unpaid actors showcase what uncomfortable power and race relations in day-to-day United States look like. And it’s totally supposed to! The entire point of this moment in “Worst Behavior” is for Drake to bad mouth the hierarchal nature of modern cliques and how they function as a tragic interruption to the creative process. A blind dedication to them contaminates art with contradicting claims of superiority instead of new thought and innovation.
In the next scene, OB goes on a long-winded rant about the hardships of becoming a successful performer when Un-Sweet Tea (Ryan Silverstein) suddenly appears on set. OB angrily calls him over and confronts him on the insanity of demanding 70% of his tour profits just for driving the bus. It’s strange, but important. Having already revealed the total joke that is his public image, rap game, and clique, it is now time to discuss the reality behind the endless parade of enemies and haters he populates his songs with–they don’t exist! Drake knows that nobody really cares what he does or how good he is at it–and this is why he caricatures all of those who try to rip him off, discourage him, and hurt him (nobody) in the mystical hair-roller-filled figure of Un-Sweet Tea.
Most of the song occurs in the following scene, as all of the characters introduced so far and a ton of nameless others dance and sing along to the chorus of “Worst Behavior” in front of several scattered Memphis, Tennessee, houses and store-fronts.
Honestly, no idea. This thing is an all-over-the-place mess.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 12, 2013