on having fun again (6/13)

It’s been a rough few months for Drake.

His latest album, For All The Dogs, got panned by critics left and right. His security guard was shot outside his Toronto mansion. And most notably, he got caught up in a far-too-personal feud with fellow rapper Kendrick Lamar (who critics say also panned him over).

For a man that’s lived in the spotlight for the majority of his adult life, numerous shortcomings are expected.

But for an artist who’s dominated the Billboard Hot 100 since his inception – not as much.

However, his infamous mentor, Lil Wayne, certainly hasn’t been without his past troubles. He spent eight months on Rikers for gun possession charges. His peers tried to kill him by shooting up his tour bus in 2015. And, despite all of their press, he’s still perhaps the most recognizable Blood in all of America.

Yet despite the turbulence the rappers have faced, both professionally and personally, Drake seems to be heeding the wisdom passed down from Wayne, finding his ability to approach each song and album with a sense of curiosity - treating the creative process as a playground rather than an attention span.

“It’s hard as a rapper not to become repetitive,” Drake said of Wayne, “and he always has a new way to make it fun.”

As much as artists and rappers think the career is about building out a public persona, or trying to become the “face of the city”, it’s not. It’s about taking the art form – the elusive combination of rhythm and poetry – and having fun with the results. Wayne had even warned Drake about the dangers of not having fun with the game, of trying to create a career out of a persona of someone he wasn’t.

“He’s pretty much the reason things are at where they’re at because for an artist you have your whole life to make your first project,” Drake’s long-time collaborator Oliver El-Khatib said, “...but once you’re in demand, being an artist for real starts when you actually have to do it on command. Be artistic. Make songs.”

And once you make that first project, once you take that first step, you have to find yourself along the way. You have to tune out the noise and tune back into that wonder, that brilliance that made you fall in love with the music in the first place.

Maybe that's where you’ll find the magic again.