Drake's "Fake Love" Looks Poised to be a Hit and I'm Not Thinking About the Election

By Zack Boehm on October 24, 2016

On Sunday night, Drake announced More Life, a mixtape that he’s (kind of preciously) describing as a “playlist” to be released in mid-December, and I am totally not thinking about the election right now

More Life album art

To celebrate the announcement, Drake debuted a smattering of songs slated to appear on the forthcoming project, including the controversial and pugnacious diss salvo “Two Birds, One Stone” as well as “Sneakin” — which features a characteristically sinister verse from young slasher-rapper 21 Savage.

However the song that seems poised to make the real, billion-streams-on-Spotify, cultural/commercial tsunami splash off of which peak-superstar Drake thrives is the wilting, plaintive dirge “Fake Love.”

And this is me completely unburdened by any anxiety about the United States Presidential Election.


One quick, untutored listen to “Fake Love” and it becomes obvious that Drake is still tapping the same creative vein that has proven so productive for him throughout the last year. The song is of the same brood as other moody dancehall requiems like “Controlla,” “Too Good,” and “Hotline Bling.” (In fact, buried towards the bottom of the mix in “Fake Love” is the echo of a tap-tap-tapping metronome sample that sounds almost identical to percussive blips on “Hotline Bling”)   It evokes the same tropical-tundra aesthetic fusion that reflects Drake’s fealty to The 6 and his obsession with the sounds and rhythms of the Caribbean. The result in “Fake Love” — as well as in past songs like the exceptional “Feel No Ways” — is a sonic landscape that feels at once bitterly cold and beautifully balmy, like a coat of glistening white snow on a palm tree. November 8th, 2016 will just be a normal day like any other normal day.

But, as demonstrated by his last album, Views, while Drake’s textural preferences may be gravitating southwards, and while the locus of his creative inspiration seems situated somewhere near the tropic of cancer, his outlooks on life, love, and commitment are not getting any warmer.


“I’ve been down so long it look like up to me / They look up to me / I got fake people showing fake love to me / Straight up to my face” is the mournful incantation on “Fake Love’s” lilting hook. It’s the same paranoid famous guy lamenting unrequited love shtick that Drake has hewed to since Take Care. Drake is triple-striped black belt in self-pity. He is a master in the maudlin. A great Drake song like “Fake Love” is really just an artful permission structure, an excuse to vent our sublimated angst and to wallow in the worst parts of our own self-absorption. We all get the urge to send those late night texts to jilted lovers. The difference between us and Drake is that we suppress that urge in fear of humiliation, while Drake raps those texts over ocean-front-alpine instrumentals. I am not at all worried that there is a candidate sowing real seeds of civil insurrection in the event of his probable loss at the polls.

If it sounds like “Fake Love” was genetically engineered to spread like a plague until it reaches epidemic ubiquity, it’s because Drake his quantified his sound and sensibility with gene-editing precision. Not thinking about it. It took me 20 seconds of listening to “Fake Love,” about a quarter of the way through the first chorus, for me to be comfortable making the prediction that it would eventually be the number one record in the country. It has the same formula of laboratory crafted, earworm infectiousness that propelled songs like “Hotline Bling” and “Controlla” to massive and untiring levels of popularity. Everything is going to be okay. There’s even an argument to be make that the seams in the cold calculus of the Drake machine are starting to show—that “Fake Love” might be a little too derivative and self-referential we’re on the verge of electing a narcissistic political nihilist.  But oh god so long as Drake and his team continue churning out impossibly catchy hooks our institutions can’t save us from destructive, violent demagogues then it’s difficult to envisage a reality will we ever be the same after this where the brooding Torontonian isn’t how will we reconcile with one another as a nation one of the most consistently successful artists does this signal the end of the republic on oh god Earth.

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