As you may remember from history class, one way to know a culture–to hold its thought in time– is to look at its art, its literature and its music. In his review of Drake’s new album, Nothing Was the Same, Steven Hyden of Grantland makes just this kinds of observation. “Again, his knowledge of pop celebrity mechanics in the social-media age is instinctive,” Hyden writes. “He gets that the public ultimately prefers the fantasy of accessibility to the fantasy of sequestered opulence.” The confessional style, the identity construction on social media, the “meta self-doubt” is all there.
All of the Drake-iest qualities are represented on “Too Much”: the oversharing of familial dirty laundry, the preoccupation with parsing his own (not too distant) past, the self-confidence disguised as self-doubt and self-doubt disguised as self-confidence, and the strident Y-ish striving. The influence of social media is palpable: In “Too Much,” Drake simultaneously presents a façade that he knows is not entirely accurate while also acknowledging that this façade is not entirely accurate. (I’m referring to the meta reference to Drake’s best-related stress, which, along with phenomena like “yacht envy” and “16-bedroom château guilt,” is experienced by only the truly megalomaniacal.) He undercuts this bravado by talking openly about his problems, but he’s not fully attached to this identity, either. The “real” Drake is situated somewhere between a self-consciously constructed and self-aware avatar and the handpicked highlights of interpersonal drama he has chosen to share with strangers.