Entire discographies are difficult enough to define artists by. The journey of a rapper is filled with highs, lows and complete transitions to the extent that they are sometimes unrecognisable by the end. So what happens when you narrow things down and try to pick one song? Pinpointing just one song from a rapper’s catalogue which would be the best introduction to them as an artist is difficult to say the least, but that’s exactly what I did here and will continue to do in the near future. First up…
Say what you like about Drake‘s sensitivity but it makes for content which is relatable beyond measure. Potentially the most classic example of that is ‘Marvins Room’. The early morning of June 9th 2011 saw Drizzy sign onto the OVO blog to let loose “another piece of the story” – and that’s the first reason that this is his pick. It was never intended to even be on Take Care but due to the overwhelming response, forced itself in front of Kendrick Lamar‘s ‘Buried Alive Interlude’. It highlights his position as the undisputed people’s champion and his desire to give people what they want exactly how they want it.
The song also accurately conveys his confidence with a shade of vulnerability. “I’m just saying you could do better” are words which would never be uttered by someone who lacks faith in themselves. Yet, throughout the record he portrays himself as the man on the losing end, so well that we actually feel sympathy and the emotion with him. Not to mention the fact that he displays this with both singing and rapping (and the singing/rapping style that he popularised). It’s what Drake does best, bringing you into his world and at the same time, putting you in touch with your own feelings better than you ever could.
The video, directed by Hyghly XO, sees this put into practice even more so. It’s unapologetically sombre and incorporates a chopped and screwed version of the song towards the end, making another reason why this song best defines him. That Houston influence which he’s been both praised and attacked for will forever be present as long as OG Ron C is around and in this case, it’s representative of his adoption by multiple states. He can effortlessly rep Toronto, Houston, Tennessee, Atlanta, New York and even London amongst others without losing a connection with either one.
The next reason is the fact that everyone thought took it upon themselves to put their own perspective on the song. Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Teyana Taylor and JoJo are just a handful of many who felt a duty to hop on the record, which Drake found flattering. We’ve seen it since then too, with instrumentals like ‘0-100’ and even more recently ‘Hotline Bling’ sparking creativity in some of music’s finest. Drake is a tastemaker and this was one of the first examples of that influence across the board.
The song also caused some controversy involving Drake’s personal life. The infamous voicemail used in the song was the very real voice of Ericka Lee, an ex-girlfriend who later claimed that she failed to receive the agreed level of compensation. What’s a Drake song without an angry ex, eh?
Finally, the cryptic nature of the title. Since Nothing Was The Same, Drake has been notorious for his secretive Instagram captions and slick references to future songs months beforehand. He makes it exciting to be a fan. Despite the fact that it’s been explained on a few occasions, many are still unmindful of the reasoning behind the actual title ‘Marvins Room’. Nope, it’s got nothing to do with Jerry Zaks‘ 1996 film of the same name. Very simply, it’s named after the studio which it was recorded at… But what’s the fun in knowing that?
All in all, this is why I think that ‘Marvins Room’ is the epitome of Drake as an artist and the perfect representation of his artistic attributes. Do you agree with the pick? If not, what’s yours and why? Let me know.
– Akaash Sharma (@AkaaSH_SHarmA)