Drake's new album, Certified Lover Boy, is the topic du jour (or rather, du week). The ongoing Kanye beef, the lackluster album art, the quotable lyrics, the questionable R. Kelly credit — Drake has become, once again, excellent fodder for memes, fervent online debate, and Tinder bios.
Of all the tracks on the album, "Way 2 Sexy" has sparked particularly intense reactions. Featuring Future and Young Thug, the song is a bass-heavy take on Right Said Fred's hit 1991 single "I'm Too Sexy," a veritable cultural touchstone.
Some things Drake is too sexy for: this syrup, your girl, the trap, unprotected sex.
Of course, the catchy yet cringe-y song has a music video, which opens with a Drake-ified version of the Motion Picture Association rating that warns, "REPEAT VIEWING MAY LEAD TO A PREGNANCY." Already, hip-hop's Casanova is coming in hot.
A brief summary of the rest of the video: Drake is cast as a slew of pop-culture icons including Popeye, Fabio, Rambo, and Michael Jackson (again, a questionable choice). Drake, Young Thug, Future, and Kawhi Leonard dress up in white suits, channeling the Backstreet Boys. In a black-and-white interlude, Drake stars in an advertisement for a fragrance called "Wet by Drake."
Though I'm tempted to take the bizarre visual at face value (Drake is just really confident?), there has to be more to it.
Drake has long been lauded (and mocked) for his sensitive lyrics, the type of "in your feels" observations that have painted the rapper as a gentle, lovesick puppy. Some have gone so far as to say his open embrace of emotion is redefining masculinity amid hip-hop's hyper-macho landscape.
As funny as Drake's "Way 2 Sexy" video is, there's something unsettling about a man in his mid-30s using his "nice guy" image — which he never hesitates to milk — as a way to prop up his ego and sexual appeal.
In fact, I dare say Drake's reputation as rap's sweetheart is one of the reasons listeners have written off some of the weirder things about CLB, and the rapper in general (like that fact that he texts Millie Bobby Brown advice about boys).
Other dubious things about the album: Drake's vague reference to "toxic masculinity" in his description of the album, the off-color shout out to his son, Adonis ("I had to fuck a lot of girls to get a kid like this," he muses on "You Only Live Twice"), and his assertion that he can "turn" queer women straight on "Girls Like Girls."
In an old issue of The New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones compared Drake's appeal to that of reality television. Indeed, we have a gross fascination with people who lack the self-awareness to recognize their own foibles, blindness that ultimately leads to their own downfall — it's an ironic, tragic flaw nicely exemplified by Drake's braggadocios lyric off 2011's "Lord Knows": "Showing emotions don’t ever mean I’m a pussy."
Despite Certified Lover Boy's apparent flaws, Drake's theatrics — his antics with Kanye, the meme-ability of "Way 2 Sexy" — ensure the album's inevitable commercial success.
Just as I can't tear my eyes away from the messiness of The Real Housewives of New York City, I can't shake Drake's perfectly catchy, entirely ridiculous refrain: "I'm too sexy for my shirt / Too sexy for my shirt / So sexy it hurts."
Just like reality TV, it's so bad it's good.