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Column: Drake is the musical equivalent of salad and breadsticks

When it comes to Category: Spirited Debates, the arts and entertainment side of the newsroom has it in spades. While talk of politics and crime typically circulate around the building, pop music/culture critic Jay Cridlin and I recently had this Spirited Debate:

Drake.

Jay has become kind of fed up with the Canadian megastar's people-pleasing sound, which he explores in this week's cover story. "From the permafrost far below, your friendly Canadian rap god appears to be idling atop his Olympus," the story goes, "pleasing all kinds of people but going nowhere in the process." Drake, he posited, can only live in the middle for so long.

STEP IT UP, DRAKE: Drake, bound for Tampa Saturday, tries to please the masses

From my high school debate team podium, I pushed my glasses up and argued that in the middling middle, Drake has actually found his truth. He has carved out a brand (bland?) of slow jams that aren't exactly slow, what you play while driving to a hot date at the Olive Garden. He has found his thing, and that thing is unlimited salad and breadsticks. Why change what works?

For a tiebreaker, I called Chris Quirin, known around town as DJ BigChrisTheMovie. Along with Matt Kaye, Quirin puts on semi-regular Drake Nights at the Bends, a cool bar in downtown St. Petersburg.

The Bends threw a Drake Night at Christmas, to which people wore Drake sweaters, and one around Valentine's Day with posters of Drake on the wall inside hearts. The Bends is having a Drake Night this weekend, the night before Drake's show at Amalie Arena.

Quirin found out about Drake Nights in other cities and had to bring the concept here. Quirin mashes up Drake and other songs all night. There are Drake masks. Drake videos play on loop. There is a "Champagne Papi toast" at midnight.

It is one of the Bends' more popular events. People flock to Drake Night, in part because Drake is so palatable to women and men alike. Quirin explained:

"He kind of touches on lots of different bases. He's safe, but he's also a little dangerous, too. He's just real popular."

I floated my theory that Drake has become authentically Milquetoast and in doing so, has self-actualized.

"You're right!" he said, which made me want to run to Jay's desk immediately and do laps with a victory flag, but I let Quirin continue.

"He is about slow jams, but they're still good. People can dance to them and party and have a good time to it, which is kind of rare. People are dancing, people are standing there on the dance floor screaming the lyrics. As a person playing someone else's music, it makes my job really easy."

He defined Drake's sound in a way that shouldn't make sense but does:

"It's a slow-upbeat."

Sure! If you have been pro-Drake since he was little Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi, or if you continue to expect more fizzy from Drizzy, Drake Night is a good place to work out your feelings. It's from 10 p.m. to closing time Friday at 919 1st Ave N. And there are Drake-themed cocktails, so get a Hennessy in your hand. It helps fuel debates.

Column: Drake is the musical equivalent of salad and breadsticks 08/23/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 11:07am]
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