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Outtakes: Drake Talks Beyoncé, 'Trophies' And Next Album In VIBE Interview

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Drake talks Beyonce's

What you won't read in Drake's second-ever VIBE cover story

It’s nearly 1 a.m. on a chilly November night and Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena is dead. Two hours ago, the Bobcats’ stomping grounds was bustling as Drake’s Would You Like A Tour? concert sent thousands home reciting their favorite Nothing Was The Same tracks. But now, it's just you and Toronto's greatest rapper tucked away in a Drakified team locker room for the encore presentation: A first-listen of Drizzy's new collaboration with Beyoncé, “Mine,” which he finished recording last night.

He’ll allude to the the track a few times before finally pressing play on a song that’s definitely not Bey. From the two seconds that slip, it sounds like Jet Life artist MaryGold, who makes a quick cameo at the end of his “Worst Behavior” video. Fingertips suddenly sweaty, you brace yourself as he reassesses his cluttered MacBook Pro desktop. And then it hits. Slow and somber, the opening stanza erupts from dancing piano keys to nimble percussion. He’ll narrate as the instrumental blooms. “Sampha’s on this, too,” he informs. When you mention that her lyrics have that signature Drake transparency he chuckles and offers a modest thanks.

“I had fun with it. I always wanted to write for her,” says the singing rapper, careful to embargo the then-untitled track from Bey’s hush-hush fifth solo LP. “She never really sings that minimal... We’ll see where that goes.”

Drake has been chatting for quite a bit longer than the scant 40 minutes allotted by his management for this cover story, but he doesn’t seem to be in a rush. There's none of the “Get the fuck up out my dressing room confusing me with questions” bitterness that he expresses on “HYFR.” He wants to deconstruct his new album as thoroughly as possible, while his security, managers, father and OVO fam members shoot the shit outside. He smiles big and often, punctuating and tenderizing his more confident or abrasive statements. We’ll go on some tangents, but after an hour-and-a-half interview there’s a bit more goodness than there are pages to print. From whether he’d ever record a concept LP to Mase’s resurgence to NWTS's follow-up, here’s the best of what was left on the cutting room floor. —John Kennedy

VIBE: You start the song “Furthest Thing” with the line, “Somewhere between psychotic and iconic.” What does that place feel like?

Drake: It’s just forever hanging in the balance of knowing in the far-off distance there’s this vision of being as legendary as Hov, Pac, Bob Marley—who knows what the possibilities are? I’m not sure what I mean to this generation; I won’t understand until the story plays out. But there is that vision of the legacy. There’s also so many opportunities to plummet and not reach that. I keep pushing forward, but sometimes I glance back like, Damn, that shit’s crazy back there. Look at all those guys back there. That shit’s scary. That shit can drive you crazy. That’s what that line means to me. There are two directions you can go. It’s up to you.

That song is one of a few where the beat evolves as you listen. That’s always been a musical theme for you, but it’s a bit more conspicuous here than in your prior works.

I gotta give the credit to 40. He wouldn’t just let a beat sit. I would leave the studio and by the time I came back the next day, he’d be like “I added some shit.” Even this Beyoncé record that we did (“Mine”). It’s kinda like ever-evolving, but I felt like we were working on an album and sitting on it for so long. We played [songs] for people and I started hearing that formula on other people’s stuff, too. That’s nothing to coin, to say we started that. But I think 40 does it the best out of everybody. He’s just been so amazing at making a piece grow or shrink, but it was all credit due to him for that. He was the mastermind behind the music.

You experiment with different flows on this one, too. Was that a conscious thing?


Drake talks
You experiment with different flows on this one, too. Was that a conscious thing?

I remember asking people early on what can I do this time to make a memorable project. I want it to feel like a discovery. So Far Gone was a discovery of an artist. It will never feel like that, but I want to make it feel like you’re listening to somebody new. My biggest thing this time was working with my vocal coach just really finding a tone, a different tone. When I did “Wu-Tang Forever,” I’d play it and people would be like, “Damn, who you got featured on that shit?” All three voices are me. But I was varying my voice a lot. “Trophies” is another record where I started toying with the rap, the cadences. It was a very conscious decision to start toying with the voices and making it like melody, but not too much melody. Even on “Own It,” you get that “niggas talk more” part that becomes a chant, like, OK, if I’m a guy and I wasn’t into the high-pitched singing, I’m back on board.

You emulate Mase’s flow on the last verse of “Worst Behavior.” He’s been having a big influence in 2013: Jay swipes a line of his on Magna Carta ... Holy Grail and Pusha mimics his voice on his album, too.

Yeah, it is interesting now that you say it like that. He’s just fucking incredible. Maybe it’s the right time to start referencing Mase. I feel like it’s always cool when rappers reach back to something you may have forgotten. But Mase is one of those guys; he just never stopped being cool. Even at OVO Fest, he just came out and started hitting that stride and it was like, Man, this guy hasn’t lost a step. He’s one of those guys who will be forever cool to me.

Have you started thinking about the follow-up to Nothing Was The Same yet?

Yeah. Last night was the first night I recorded—I finished up this record with Beyoncé. That was really dope. For her [LP]. As far as another album goes, I was gonna ask you, ’cause you seem pretty in touch with what I’ve had going on. What’s next? I like to ask people what they think is next. Maybe it’s a concept album. Maybe it’s a mixtape. I don’t always know exactly where I’m going. I remember reading that article where ’Ye was like, I have my next three albums mapped out, they’re called this, this, and this. He almost got there but then things changed. I always admired that, like “Man, what a commitment and you made them all dope.”

I’m still looking for Good Ass Job.

I think it’s gonna come. Or maybe he just grew out of that title. That happens to me, too. But yeah, I don’t ever have it mapped out. I didn’t know after Take Care would be Nothing Was The Same. It just happened. I’m not sure where I’m going to next. I don’t have a title either.

It seems like the tide is shifting back to more lyrical days. The Rap Olympics, so to speak. Between Eminem’s “Rap God,” J. Cole’s success and much of the stuff Lupe has dropped this year.

Is it working?

On a commercial level, I’m not sure. With Eminem getting into it—one of the biggest rappers in the world—that gives it some legs.

Yeah, we always need change and thriving in rap. I don’t know if rap’s going to turn some corner into super-lyrical everything. It’s crazy to be on an arena tour right now, my first one ever, and really see what works and what doesn’t. You’ll be so convinced about someone else coming out on your set and killing some shit you’ve been listening to for the last however many weeks. For example: “Pound Cake” isn’t the record of the night. It’s still gonna be “Headlines” or “Crew Love” or “All Me.” People love to sing. That’s what I never forget. People fucking love to sing. If you get your melodies and flows together you will be out of here. I fuck with rap and hip-hop—I do “Tuscan Leather” on my album with no hook. I even say it. Sure it may be dope on Rap Radar and shit, but it’s not the world. It’s a very small piece of a population. When I’m at ALIFE Backyard performing, it’s different records that work there than at Barclays Center. I’m part of both worlds. A lot of guys that perform at Barclays Center don’t go to the ALIFE Backyard to perform. I go to both so I get to see what works on, like, some tryin’ to be the biggest artist in the world and what works for being the biggest artist on the blogs, you know? Can you do both?

Can you?

I think so. I’m never gonna be the number one guy on the blogs but at the same time, you can’t ever say I don’t rap. You can’t say my bars aren’t up there with the best of them unless it’s just not your brand of music. In that case, it’s okay because I had artists I would never fuck with either before I ever made music. Everyone’s not gonna love you. I feel like majority when it comes down to it, it’s tough for people to be like, “Nah, Drake can’t rap.” [Laughs] With that being said, yeah all the lyrical shit is dope. It’s just people keep challenging me about what’s real rap. Is it the shit you know all the words to or the shit that sounds fast and complex? I don’t have the answer. At the same time, I know I can do a couple things. [Laughs]

Have you ever thought about doing a concept album?

Drake talks concept albums, his next LP
Have you ever thought about doing a concept album?

I feel like the music that I write is utilized in life. It would be tough for me to go in conceptual storytelling. The last great concept album was [Kendrick Lamar’s] good kid m.A.A.d city—still obviously true to his life but very conceptual. Very specific stories that need to be told. I always say hats off to that album, that album’s incredible, what an undertaking. For me, I would never want to be restricted to that. But it depends on what you’d call a concept album. Would you call [Jay Z’s] American Gangster a concept album? If it is, then yeah, I guess. All he did was just make crack songs. I feel like I just made a concept album about a kid from Toronto that’s on. I’m not good at telling fictional stories, so I would never be able to do that. There are rappers that are good at telling stories about people that aren’t themselves. There are people that have vast imaginations to go and make up a story just to achieve a point. I draw off life experiences.

Have you ever tried telling things from your imagination or other points of view?

Everytime it just comes out as shit that’s going on in my life. I think the next album I do is gonna be different. I don’t know if I’ll necessarily return to family stuff and stuff that I feel I really summed up well on Nothing Was The Same. The problem is I don’t participate too much in social media, so my music is always the update that you’re looking for in my life. Twitter is not my outlet to get my message out there. My outlet is the music so my music always ends up becoming my life. I don’t know how to stop that.

It’s also important to live life in order to have content for your project. Is that why you take your time between putting out albums?

Yeah, and that was kinda like the learning process. 20-whatever years to make So Far Gone, then one year to make Thank Me Later. I was like, I don’t know, let me get a bunch of features and make some good music. I went back home and wrote Take Care, got influenced by the city but I was in a dark place. I don’t know if I was coming back home with the best energy in the world. I was coming off a record where I loved that album with all my heart but I knew I wanted to do better. I was just getting more money than I had ever seen. I was like in this indulgent state of mind. It was a weird time for me. Now, this album is probably the most aware of self that I’ve ever been. I did this album all over the place but for the first time have no strife. I’m here. I’m gonna own this now.


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