Why I Love Hotline Bling and The Ride
"You used to call me on my cellphone
Late night when you need my love
Call me on my cellphone
And I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing
I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing."
Hotline Bling is one of the best definitions of what R&B is. That is, a super friendly call to arms to get out on the dance floor and to love whom you love with all your heart. Let's start with the video. Here Drake dances like no-one is watching and shows himself to be a good hearted soul. Very few rappers or R&B stars would dance in such a way that would open them up to the allegation that they're not cool. Well, Drake doesn't care if you think he's cool. He's just full of musical love and needs to dance. I have been in this place many times. When your feet are working before your inhibitions kick in. The video, directed by Director X is a delicious visual feast, with Drake's improvised dance moves playing against beautiful colours and shapes.
I have previously written about why I love Drake, but it is worth repeating that he is the nicest, most emotionally satisfying rapper working today. He is also a brilliant R&B artist. He is the quintessential modern Rapper: someone who can sing a sweet melody, followed up by a killer verse. He understands melody in a way that Kendrick Lamar, another great modern Rapper can't compare with. Hotline Bling gets my vote for the friendliest hit in Drake's catalogue. It is a big musical hug. If you are feeling low and kind of worthless, this is the song for you. It is playful, funny and emotionally pleasing.
R&B is music that makes us feel human, as we all know. Hotline Bling is a prime example of this. Just watch Drake's dancing and try not to smile. This is who we are when we enter the world. With no insecurities or anxieties, we are free to be ourselves honestly and truly. It is a love song, that is mourning the loss of contact with someone who was once closer than anyone. It has a tinge of sadness to it, even while it is full of the joys of life. You and me we just don't get along. You make me feel like I did you wrong. Going places where you don't belong. Hanging with some girls I never seen before. This is for anyone who has waited on a call from a lover, who is evasive about what they're spending their time doing, and who doesn't care enough to call you and put you out of your misery. I used to know you. I don't know you anymore. The sheer aesthetic beauty of the song and video makes for a delirious, engaging thing.
The Ride is my favourite rap by Drake, featuring the stunning vocals of The Weeknd on the hook and backing vocals. It is the story of Drake's life, from bottom to the top. Faded too long, I've been faded too long, I've been faded too long. Why won't it stop? The ride. The sun is up when you get home, that's just the way of life. Apartment 1503, some couches and paintings when you record with two others that want the same thing. It start to feel better than home feels and so you up there every night, you swear you getting close. That champagne money was for gas and phone bills but shit, you bout to spend it on what matters most. Living beyond your means to maintain an image. The Ride is a holy song, something that expresses so well the hurt and melancholy that comes from the struggle. The struggle to survive and then hopefully, one day, to thrive and succeed. It's been too long. Like Hotline Bling, The Ride is a song about time past, about a simpler time when everything wasn't on top of you. To get to the top, you must endure your trials, and you must learn from your mistakes.
The Ride is the journey. It is all the things that make you who you are. Why won't it stop? I once thought that I was capable of something great. I believed that my writing would help set me aside from others. Well, it didn't. If I was capable of doing anything great, I probably already would have done it. I wrote a novel that went nowhere. I tried to write for big publications and I couldn't hack it. I do what I do now because it is literally the only thing I am halfway decent at. I relate to The Ride because it expresses my feelings of being lost and struggling to make half a difference in the world. It is a gorgeous song, but it also has a couple of funny lines, including one very coarse line: brand new girl and she's still growing, brand new titties, stitches still showing. And she just praying that it heals good, I'm bout to fuck and I'm just praying that it feels good.
I always looked up to my brother, for his uncanny talent in music and helping me to understand things that I always thought were beyond my understanding. The Ride is a song for family. A shout out to the relationships that keep you going in the face of horrible bother. A shout out to the people who supported you and made you who you are. It's been too long. Been way too long. Let's meet up and get back together. I've been faded too long. Lost in an alcoholic haze. Living day to day, not very well. Always on the line between comfort and poverty. Homelessness is just a little step over the line. It's got you asking, what's good at home? What's good at home? The same hos are still at it, I should have known. The Ride is the hope for a better future. Something that can put people where they need to be. It is the belief in yourself, in your own abilities to transform your life from misery to elation. If I was as talented as Drake, I would have that hope too. My sophomore I was all for it, they all saw it. My junior and senior will only get meaner. Take care nigga.