Drake’s year of no eff-giving continues with the official video for “Started From the Bottom,” a clip that makes no apologies for where he came from or how he got here. Instead, Drizzy suggests his Toronto come-up was filled with toothbrushes, dancing, and questionable winter driving… and we can’t stop watching.
Like his pal Rihanna, Drake’s most interesting work comes when he sheds any insecurities and talks about what he knows. Feature credits typically relegate him to standing around expensive cars or throwing dollars at pool-adjacent behinds, but he’s flirted with both the serious and outrageous on his solo material–even throwing in a little of his acting chops. For the most part, sadly, it’s been underwhelming. Despite the number of times I played “Best I Ever Had” during the summer of ’09, Drake went heavy on the cheese by hiring women whose cup sizes outweighed their basketball (or acting) talent, leading us to believe that Lil Wayne wasn’t so sure about spending cash on his protege before he had really proven himself. Thank Me Later’s “Find Your Love” was overly dramatic and dimly lit, and while “What’s My Name” will have me searching for Drizzy in the aisles of my local bodega forever and always, it’s Rihanna’s song more than anything else. Oh na na.
Which is why last year’s VMA-winning “HYFR” (and memorable award show v-neck) was such a breath of fresh air. It took a step away from the serious and emotional Aubrey that dominated Take Care, specifically the title track’s symbolic video that should have left us better prepared for a certain club fight that stole headlines as well as a chunk of Chris Brown’s chin. Getting Wayne, DJ Khaled, and Trey Songz in a synagogue seemed like the pinnacle of ridiculous-yet-amazing moves from Drake and Director X, but “Started From the Bottom” is just as infectious and just as authentically Aubrey–aside from the blatant omission of his Degrassi past. Your cast mates miss you, boo.
To illustrate this unapologetic slow-burn that’s all about his come-up, Drake takes us through time, beginning with Little Aubrey scoring goals on the soccer field, to young Drake becoming night manager at his local drug store (Shoppers Drug Mart stand UP). It’s a play on his accomplishments–which are much more modest than, say, winning Rap Album of the Year–with a tongue-in-cheek approach to proving how “hard” he is and how difficult his rise to the top really was. Just like “HYFR,” he’s proud of his past and isn’t trying to hide his background, nor is he pretending to have grown up in an environment that might be more expected of hip-hop acts. His effort to stay true to his roots reinforces his position on “real” and “fake” friends, and should make those other artists who’ve been accused of crafting a persona in order to sell records (ahem, Rick Ross) start to sweat. His mother even makes a cameo!
I could do without the much too long comedy break where his doofy sidekicks attempt to hit on a customer, but Turtle set the bar for entourage members looking for their own breakout opportunities and at least this 40 look-alike drops an Alicia Keys reference. Also, Girls had a superior drug store aisle scene three weeks ago, and we know Drizzy’s a Lena Dunham fan. Drake’s achievement is not without the help of the city that made him, and once again he’s doing it for Toronto, leaving the Superdome behind and setting his sights on the entire skyline. (He’ll fly.) Heights aren’t a problem, and if you’ve been lost in all the snow or confetti, he’d like you to think of his rise to the top as a literal climb. Has his face become the official logo for Canada’s Bureau of Tourism yet?
Overestimating his upcoming raise ever so slightly, the whole crew heads to the islands for a raucous party to celebrate their success (or success by association) throwing in the debauchery we’ve come to expect from hip-hop clips. It’s “Crew Love,” it’s “Pop That,” and it’s Happy (Vacation) Drake in his purest form, bringing those who’ve been there for him along for the ride. What’s not to love? But maybe I’m infatuated with the video because Drake really can’t stop dancing… ever.
He’ll dance in the middle of the street, no matter what the weather gods have thrown his way.