Drake, Kanye, Lil Nas X and the art of self-creation online

The roles that we play are revealing. I believed for a while that one of the pleasures of the social internet – what moves us on some level – is the way it allows us to be who we want. It licenses the role-playing game, makes way for the performance pageantry. It allows us to live outside of our sometimes stagnant selves like someone else. This can veil your anonymity, of course, the abuse of which has long been practiced by catfishers, trolls and crooks. But in what it has more transcendent, more numerically divine, the social Internet allows the fantasy, it gives way to a kind of inflated realism. It allows a more porous self.

Within this ecology of vast and contrasting identities, there are archetypes born from specific generational sets, emblems in which we play or on which we are projected but which we otherwise make our own (some of which also act as memes). . Maybe you are a Karen or embody the trends of a Facebook Boomer; maybe you have met Hoteps in the comments section of a Dr Umar YouTube video or just this week chatted with a Barb on Twitter, fertile platforms where these fragmented identities proliferate and find a community. One of the most well-known characters in this online temperaments carousel is the serial cheater, the lothario dating app – the fuckboy, as it was. Chances are, you know of one. Maybe you’ve even dated one. (It happens to the best of us.) The sweet conversationalist brother who prefers one night stands, he ultimately has little room for true compassion and is driven by a constant need for reassurance. He’s a chronic heart breaker. A werewolf in Gucci outfit. It’s Drake.

There was, generally, little pride or reward in parading such a blatant character in the open – rare is the archetype’s admission aloud by the wearer – which makes the Toronto rapper’s latest project. , entitled Boy in love certified, all the more mystifying; it’s lush in swagger and light on remorse, an all too familiar millennial state of mind. The album is his sixth release on a major label, and it takes on the vibe and sound of an ex-partner who consciously, maybe even intentionally, left you reading just to wonder, a few days more. late, why you didn’t text them back. Boy in love certified is a crash course in the ancient arts of toxic masculinity (Drake actually uses the phrase in the album description), a mirror of man’s ugliest compulsions. We live in a world of self-proclaimed heroes, beneficent aspirants and TED Talk motivators, people who, despite their hidden agendas, want to express how decent they are, but Drake opts for the role of the most hated. Why? Because everything is performance. And we love a captivating show.

He’s not the only one wearing a shiny cosplay. Alongside Kanye West, who released his 10th studio album, Donda, earlier this month, Boy in love certified is simply a catalyst for a larger conversation about how and what we need to make good art. What is their music about – what is it about said– has nothing to do with the music itself. Neither artist is at his peak here; a lot of what we hear on CLB and Donda is a recycled material. Instead, it’s the performance that surrounds the art, the extravagant spectacle and the characters they embody, that compels us to watch and listen, to stay endlessly.The music was far more captivating than the chatter around. of the album). Music becomes something else entirely: the mask of self-creation that the Internet offers us.

An amalgamation of heartbreak and loss, contempt and bragging, of all the drunken voicemails, “u up” lyrics and family dramas encountered in previous iterations, Boy in love certified is a regurgitation of everything that came before it. You can’t help but wonder if this is the character that Drake, once a teenage actor Degraded– always wanted to play; that this may be its final form. There is no evidence of growth. No surprise turns. “I remember telling you that I missed you, it was a bit like a mass text,” he raps on “Papi’s Home”, a line from a song that could easily have appeared on any of his last five albums.


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About Bernice D. Brewer

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