Nov 22nd, 2015, 05:26 PM

"Gentle" Drake Sparks Online Parodies

By Rachael Fong-Gurzinsky
Image Credit: Tumblr @drakethetype
The Internet loves to poke fun at rapper Drake -- and he knows it.

When Drake’s "Hotline Bling" music video dropped on Oct. 19, the Internet exploded. For anyone who may have been on a two-week hiatus from all social media platforms last month, you can view the video, released on Apple Music exclusively, here. The minimalism and Drake’s cheesy dance moves create an inevitable platform for parody -- and the Internet’s masses did not disappoint. Popular video spoofs include versions with added elements like light sabers, tennis rackets, and pepperoni pizza. Others use the original video and replace the song with silly substitutes. View a compilation of the “greatest hits” below.


For easy access to all "Hotline Bling" parodies, a Twitter account, @DRAKEDANCING was created the very next day, accompanied by trending hashtag, #DrakeAlwaysOnBeat.

October’s outbreak of laughs on Drake’s behalf is nothing new. It seems that almost every time the rapper produces new material, the online community decides to turn it into a meme. Early memes include photos of his wheelchair days on the television show "Degrassi", or plays on his lyrics like this ET mashup captioned: “Just hold on we’re going home.”

Image Credits: Noisey and Meme Generator

GIFs of him lint rolling his pants courtside at a Raptor’s basketball game in Toronto, and then the production of Drake branded lint rollers sparked even more jokes. One of my personal favorites, Drake Weather, features the album cover of “Nothing Was the Same” and turned it into a weather app, displaying local weather virtually behind Drake’s head.

Drake memes always display him as gentle, feminine, and really corny, in contrast to jokes on other rappers that often reference inner city upbringings, drugs, and womanizing. This stereotype is spawned from “sensitive” lyrics like “I just hate sleeping alone,” “You could have my heart or we could share it like the last slice,” and “I pop bottles because I bottle my emotions.” Creative material is in no short supply for Internet jokesters.  

It might be that the stereotype also comes from Drake’s racial makeup. He’s half African American and half white Canadian Jew. His light skin, coupled with strong associations to his Hollywood break out role as Jimmy, the ex-basketball star crippled from the waist down on "Degrassi", and the aforementioned “nice guy” lyrics, give meme creators reason to think he’s more of a joke than an authority in the rap world.  

There is an assumption that most meme makers and media curators are white and privileged, creating content for viewers of the same status. The whitewashing of Drake is likely a push from members of this community who assume they have the power to call the shots on his rapper legitimacy.

But in the end, Drake really can’t be too upset about his Internet reputation. His music still tops the charts and he’s managed to stay relevant consistently since his first album in 2010. In the words of media scholar Henry Jenkins, “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.” If Drake wasn’t picked up as the poster child for celebrity memes, would we like him as much? Being one of the few widely famous rappers today whose foray into the music industry started after Internet and meme culture were in full swing, it’s almost as if his career depends on it now. And Drake knows it.

A Drake Lint Roller Sold for a Whopping $55,100 on eBay

Did he have to take a lint roller to his pants courtside at the Raptor’s game? No, he didn’t. But I’m sure his unofficial position as spokesman of the team and Drake / Raptor’s branded lint rollers handed out before games didn’t lose him any money. Is it reasonable to think that the slough of "Hotline Bling" video parodies was a surprise as well? Definitely not. Drake is playing into the silliness of his assigned role and “started not to give a f-ck and stopped fearing the consequence.”