Art by Charito Yap | The Come Up
So we just lived through another “Houston Appreciation Weekend.” You know, the weekend when Drake comes to Houston and “shows love to the city” for everything Houston has done for his career to date. And by “everything Houston has done for his career,” I imagine he means something along the lines of showing him love and allowing him to pilfer sounds and ideas under the guise of being “influenced” by the city.
I’ll admit that I’m probably not the best person to offer a criticism of Drake’s symbiotic relationship with Houston. After all, I’ve only lived here for 6 years and I’m not all that involved in the city’s music scene beyond attending the occasional concert and listening to my favorite artists on a consistent basis. However, like United State Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s threshold test for obscenity, I know some bullshit when I see it.
As an idea, there’s nothing wrong with visiting a city you love — one that generally welcomes you — and putting on a bunch of events, ranging from concerts to charitable basketball games and just having a bunch of fun. That shit’s even fine in execution. I’m just not entirely sure that a few events scattered across a weekend qualifies as the most useful way to show your love to the city you’ve stripped bare for ideas on your way to becoming the megastar you are today. Call me cynical, but a Drake/OVO sponsored “appreciation weekend” essentially strikes me as some obvious, self-promoting crap. How exactly does the Houston RAP MUSIC INDUSTRY gain anything from this appreciation weekend? Folks will have some fun (we do that anyway outchea) and deal with a mild influx of traveling promoters, prostitutes and unimaginative people with no Memorial Day weekend plans. Honestly, the shit kinda sounds like every other weekend in Houston to me. But I’m kinda washed, so whatever.
Perhaps gaining shit isn’t the point of an appreciation weekend. I can’t be sure. I’m not in public relations. What I do know is that there are infinitely more useful methods of “showing your love to” or “appreciating” a city you’ve established a symbiotic (in the biological sense, dummy) relationship with. It’s not really my place to tell an influential man how to wield his influence but I’ve always found it kinda odd that Drake has never really thrown an up-and-coming Houston rapper a verse or two. We all know that the man basically writes his own checks at this point. If he throws a verse on a song (regardless of whether the shit was hot or not without him), that tends to do wonders for the other artist’s career moving forward. In other words, a Drake verse almost guarantees a hit. We’ve heard him jump on everything from Migos’ “Versace” to Tinashe’s “2 On” and most recently, he threw one of his tepid verses on the next inescapably annoying Fetty Wap single.
Drake has been famous and influential for a long fucking time. What’s stopping him from throwing a verse or two at a newish HOUSTON rapper? You can’t tell me there’s no talent outchea. I’m not in clubs like I used to be but whenever I go, I’m hearing local hits from folks like BeatKing, Chedda Da Connect, DJ Chose, Doughbeezy, DeLorean and bunch of other cats. The closest we’ve come to Drake on a new Houston rapper’s shit is the Travi$ Scott appearance on Drake’s last project–but Travi$ barely makes noise out here–he belongs more to a suburb (Missouri City). There’s also a rumored remix of the Sauce Twinz local hit “2 Legited 2 Quited” –emphasis on “rumored” given that this alleged remix was supposed to have dropped FOREVER AGO and a member of the Sauce Twinz, Sauce Walka, essentially burned the Drake bridge by going on an Instagram rant about the very thing I’m lamenting in this piece.
You mean to tell me that Drake can hop on a Makonnen single and sign that marginally “talented” dweeb to his label but he can’t throw a verse at any of the new cats in the city that’s supposed to be his second home? Houston is supposed to be cool with a glorified PR exercise masquerading as an “appreciation weekend” while Drake shakes his stardust on folks from every other city but Houston? That shit ain’t adding up to me. I don’t like it. Shit smells all the way like some Jay-Z/Goebbels bullshit.
Now I have to take a second here to pause and acknowledge the tangible efforts that Drake and his folks make in Houston. After all, he could have just chosen to ape ideas and pass on the appreciation and I’m sure he’d have been able to get away with it, since folks loathe being labeled “haters,” regardless of how egregious an interloping carpetbagger’s offenses might be. A good number of the events taking place in Houston this weekend actually assist various non-profit organizations by way of bringing awareness to their efforts, in addition to fund raising. For instance, the main prong of the charitable portion of the weekend is a celebrity softball game benefiting the Houston Astros’ Urban Youth Academy. Last year, I believe the centerpiece of the weekend was a celebrity basketball game and the weekend’s events also benefitted several other local organizations including the Houston Food Bank, Interfaith Ministries, Keep Houston Beautiful and the T.J. Ford Foundation. And guess what? That’s all commendable. As a matter of fact, Drake’s charitable efforts in my city encouraged me to find another charity organization to volunteer with. Yup. Drake may have indirectly made me a better person for about four Saturday mornings last year. So the man deserves some credit. Again, he really doesn’t have to do any of this.
However, I still don’t understand exactly why Drake seems to limit showing his appreciation for Houston to charitable efforts that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the industry he wields the most influence in. Maybe I’m asking for too much on behalf of my adopted home. Maybe I’m taking this shit a little too seriously. Maybe I’m just a hating-ass blog face nigga. Well, that last one is definitely true but I don’t feel any kinda way about it. What I do know is that Drake’s relationship with Houston is beginning to feel a tad less symbiotic and more parasitic to this hater. I guess I’d just rather see some local rappers benefit from the relationship instead of local charities, hotels and clubs. It just seems like the most organic occurrence from this perspective.
Then again, maybe Houston will be able to claim a minor victory someday if our Canadian overlord manages to write some interesting songs on his next project based on his interactions with some of our rappers instead of songs based on interactions with all the strippers James Harden hasn’t paid rent for yet. That’s if we get around to recovering from the massive flood that swept through Houston right after Drake left. I presume all this water in my parking lot is the result of all the dick-slurping and tears that a Drake visit tends to trigger here.