Why We Love Drake’s “Nice For What”
It’s Lauryn Hill’s signature move
Watching and listening to Drake’s latest gem Nice For What is tough because I realize that I’ve missed my chance of ever being able to star in a video that celebrates the vibrant complexities that arouse the state of womanhood.
As a woman who was once a girl and is now scared of the impending phase of being classified as “an older woman” — Nice For What is the timely anthem for that young Black girl back in 1998 — who couldn’t get enough of the vibes emanating from a slightly younger and more prolific Black girl — who dropped the album of her life and the single that re-arranged my existence — forevermore.
Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill made its debut when we needed it the most. It was different back then because the motives of artists was simply to create for themselves and then share with the world when the time was right.
Writers wrote without the private campaigning for brands — hopeful actresses slept in cars after the long drive to La La Land to make that 9 am audition. And musicians never had to search for the embrace of fans who were always ready to spend a sweltering afternoon or a frigid night under the blanket of melodious appetizers — while creating their visual accompaniment.
Ex-Factor was the single that I just couldn’t get enough of for obvious reasons — but my personal obsession with it was conceived from my own fragile relationship with a dude that dug me slightly more than I dug him — and how that guilt transformed me into a worker bee for the both of us.
I didn’t want us both to “end up with scars” and so I kept “letting him back in” — despite how frustrated I was with our love and the obstinance of my disposition as a young woman who just wanted to be free. It took me awhile after our break up to realize that he wasn’t really all that great to me. His controlling ways and casual remarks that were aimed to dissuade my belief that I could do better was his habitual method of affection.
I was too inexperienced to not blame myself and so I gave him the benefit of victimhood — which ended up being the permission he needed to victoriously walk away.
The whole damn album secured my youthful inadequacies in a stream of noted consciousness — that I readily play in my head when nostalgic tendencies threaten to re-assemble my current dilemma. She sings about the the storminess of an unexpected pregnancy in Zion. And I would lay in bed in my panties and bra — and the wide open window providing the caress of the wind — as my CD player blasted Nothing Even Matters — through the shield of a warm evening.
I remember balancing my feet on the white wall and admiring my long shapely legs as I arranged for the back to back hits of — Lost Ones and Superstar. But I would immediately dive into the image in the mirror each time Ex-Factor repeatedly caused me to tell myself something about what happened and how the next one will prove that Everything is Everything.
Drake is a genius. Kanye is also a genius but Drake isn’t Kanye because both of these artists evoke the same thing in different ways. Kanye’s Love Lockdown for instance is violently emotional in what it conveys and you almost can’t take the assault — but you hang in there because it’s worth the beating.
Drake delivers the same punch — but with the cushion of optimism and empowerment that make the dismal forecast give way to the appealing disposition you constructed with the assistance of such a desirous palette.
Consider Make Me Proud — a track that I heard for the first time in early 2012 — during a tumultous time that had me in mental stitches as the slashes were never quite deep enough to make me bleed out — but each one hurt like a mutha!
Shitty job — a non-relationship that was a shitfest because it had to either not exist or evolve without me — and the fear of turning forty in a couple of years with nothing to illustrate my dopeness as the writer I’d been trying so damn hard to bring to life.
I fell for Drake hard on his first try and loved his look — movements — and verses to music — and Make Me Proud made my high even higher as I played dress up and pranced around my crammed Upper East Side studio — with the gawking eyes of the city comically mocking my fantasy that Drake composed this just for me.
He did — he just doesn’t know it. Something about the way he loves music and adores those who came before him — makes it easy to listen and get your life!
I got it together and quit the job and the man who hijacked the years of my life that I will never get back. Yes — music can be that awesome in its delivery and stance — with all the love from the chosen messenger.
He’s always been about giving his due to the women who love him in private and the ones he worships out loud. He celebrated Aaliyah with the hauntingly memorable — Unforgettable — and now he goes and tops the topper with a wondrous homage to what it takes to be female in these streets — that sport hidden bumps and visible pot holes that we expertly evade with instinctual prowess.
We love Nice For What because it’s unapologetically direct in its approach and of course the video has enough room for us to insert ourselves in whatever fashion that allows our personalized narratives.
But even better is the mandatory hoisting of an icon who despite her shortcomings of arriving super late to her concerts and all the other crap that’s used to reduce her status — still holds the title of “champ” in the arena of redefining the role of womanists by heightening the “factor” without the “ex.”
I’m mature enough to appreciate the superstars in the Nice For What video — especially the healthy mix of ages even if the standard defaults are represented with the same affection that was depicted in Jay and Bey’s Family Feud video. It appears that White and biracial women rule the world — while “regular” Black women who resemble my template — are still in the background waiting to catch up.
But even Drake can’t escape the demands of the real world — and as a globally recognized artist — he has every right to present the facts — until something changes.
That being said — Nice For What was nicely done and prime enough to make a mama proud and give girlfriends the freedom to “put on that fucking dress” and “shut it down.”
As for me — I’m staging a reunion with the girl from twenty years ago. We have a lot to catch up on and just wait until she hears the smash up of both of our obsessions!