2011’s Man Of The Year: Drake

No one in the music business (other than say, maybe his fellow Canadian-native Justin Bieber) has inspired more love and hate in the year 2011  than one Aubrey “Drake” Graham. On one side, his highly anticipated sophomore album Take Care debuted at Number # 1 on Billboard with roughly 631,000 copies sold in its first week.  [To put that in perspective, only his YMCMB boss Lil Wayne and the incomparable Lady Gaga sold more in their first week this year.] His single “Headlines” is undeniably one of the most played songs of the year and there hasn’t been a successful remix in a while that didn’t feature Drizzy crooning on it. So dude clearly has fans. But like with most mega stars at the height of their success, it seems that the haters are working just as hard as he is.

Website The Big Ghost Chronicles made an anonymous star out of a blogger who writes in the voice of the Wutang MC and hates on Drake religiously, assigning him hilarious and scathing aliases like  “Young Garnier Fructis, aka the human croissant.” Charlamagne Tha God from has said publicly that “listening to Drake will make a grown man lactate.” Rumors spread that Common was taking shots at Drake on his song “Sweet” for supposedly dating his ex Serena Williams. While he denied it was directed at Drizzy, he said it was “for whoever the cap fits.” Even Ludacris, who is far from the beefing type, took shots on record at Drake for a perceived slight.

But the hate seems to go beyond the personal, Stan-type beefs. Twitter trending topics like #drakemakes and #drakecrieswhen are the norm on the social network and Spoof Twitter accounts like @drakedointhings (“Drake online shopping for a new set of grapefruit spoons. He isn’t very happy with his current set.) poke fun at the ladies man mc/singer even further. And who could forget the Photoshop of his new album cover that depicts Drake in a less than favorable light.

But why? Why is Drake so much fun to hate on? No other artist in 2011 gets this much negative attention. Is it the lyrics? Is it his upbringing?

The truth is it’s a combination of all of that. The fashion world has seen the gradual feminisation of men (making men the new women-complete with skin tight jeans and man-purses) over the last few years, and the music seems to have followed suit. Kanye West opened the doors again for pretty boy rap and Drake fits the bill perfectly. The sweater wearing son of a Black musician and Jewish mother, the former child actor who played Wheelchair Jimmy on the kids program “Degrassi”, grew up relatively more privileged than—until the last few years—what fans have come to expect from rappers.

His music is full of emotional candor, and in his interviews he seems more interested in flattering women and decorating his bathroom than bragging about his rhyme skills or throwing rims on his truck. And despite his affiliation with other self-proclaimed gangsta rappers, the OVO founder has never actually been shot or shot anybody else. The ladies love him like they used to love LL. He drinks crates of wine and champagne and is clearly not afraid to explore his feminine side (On “Shot For Me he raps: “The way you wear your hair that’s me… the way you walk that’s me.”)

Despite his recent lyrical claims that someone around him or even himself would “catch a body like that…” Drake is clearly the anti-gangster. Yet he keeps his songs full of just enough drug and flossing references to keep his edge-ghetto fabulous minus the ghetto. In DJ Khaled’s “On One” he’s seen brandishing a styrofoam cup, a visual nod to the practice of syrup sipping, regardless of what might actually be in the cup. In an interview with TheUrbandaily Charlamagne observed that Drake, “looked awkward” with the cup and that when he goes down that thug route no one will believe him.

His blatant disregard for masculine standards of old puts him in the running for the Michael Buble of rap. While critics and fans agree his music is undeniably good, he is looked upon as a feral cat returning to the wild despite his domestic lineage. No matter how long his claws grow he’s still…a cat. But when he’s out in the alleys harkening for the days when he rubbed up against his owner’s leg they look at him crazy. His best hope is to sit on the fence and meow into the night because the ladies will be in heat soon enough.

The remarkable part is that both the love and the hate come in equal doses. A girl who obviously loves the dude on a whole other level got Drake’s name tattooed across her forehead, but the tattoo artist who did it thinks she’s the biggest dumbass on the planet and–with limited knowledge of who Drake was–quickly called him “The softest dude in hip-hop.”

That’s probably one of the wildest things I’ve ever seen a fan do. That just shows the love the fan has for him. MC Hammer got hate because he was dancing and then he wore hoodies trying to be hard. You gotta deal with the hate. [Drake] is a great rapper.

When the JumpOffTV lounge crew reviewed Take Care, they created the trending topic “#DrakeMakes” saying that “Drake Makes hold hands at the movies music…take me home to meet your mother music.”

However, what began as a jab at the singer/rapper became an opportunity for his fans to rally for him.

Even his producer Chase-N-Cash chimed in saying, “#Drakemakes millions, ya’ll make blog posts.”

Love him or hate him, Drake seems here to stay…for now anyway. There seems to be no end in sight for the rap star who Big Ghostface says “probably wakes up in the morning, slides down his banister in his silk PJs to play his harp for his cats…”

But all jokes aside, Drake fans go as hard as Beleibers and seem willing to defend him as long as there are haters out there to snap on him. So long as his music stays on point, Drake and his “beauty spa” rap regime will reign supreme. At least until the next DMX or 50 Cent comes along and lowers the Charmin softness quota in rap again.

More Best Of 2011…

A Year In Review: Chris Brown’s Most Notable Moments

DMX: From Inmate To Good Samaritan In A Year

Celebrities We Lost In 2011 [PHOTOS]

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