Leave it to Drake to release a song at least partially inspired by the 100 emoji, during the summer, and make the resulting would-be block anthem into a meditative, paranoid, wounded animal of a song.
Los Angeles rapper The Game helms the project, as it’s a teaser to his upcoming August sequel The Documentary 2. (For the uninitiated, the first Documentary is pretty fantastic.) Cardo and Johnny Juliano are the producers responsible for the arresting, heavy beat.
For his part, Drake has been previewing the lyrics during recent concerts, with the resulting arrangement basically sounding like an Aladdin ballad. That’s not masculine rap nerd hating, by the way: Since its Thursday release, reaction has been generally favorable.
100 // drake ft. The game 😍— dynasty🎀 (@dynastyolivo) June 25, 2015
Entertainment blog Shakara Online notes that Drake’s rapping is a honed attack against his former business partners at Cash Money Records:
…the Canadian rapper raps about people who used to be among his closest friends, but eventually compromised on the financial part of their relationship. In other words, he alluded to Birdman and Cash Money not paying him and Young Money, the exact same issue which became the reason for Lil Wayne’s legal battle with Baby.
But mostly, “100” is what makes the guy compelling as an artist. With apologies to The Game—who is perfectly fine in a supporting actor role (on his own album’s single, no less)—“100” is an aggressively personal song that breathes through Drake’s aesthetic filter: A ’90s R&B sample I can’t quite place, moody and spiraling bass lines, lyrics about how existential and haunting you feel when it’s dark and you’re perpetually traveling.
Drake has been winning with this type of music since 2009, which is a stunning achievement. His anthems, ballads, and bangers are all overwhelmingly about being at a party and feeling out of place. It’s a feeling that pairs with your phone gorgeously.
You want a Migos-recalling, up-tempo number with attitude for a song that shares a name with the most hip-hop emoji working today, but that’s low-hanging. Rather, Drake and Game deliver a summer anthem for when it’s dawn and you have to walk the dog before it gets hot.
Screengrab via ILoveMakonnen/YouTube