A History of Drake’s Weird Fascination with The Bay Area

Mac Drake reppin' for the bay
Antonio Losada

For a guy from Toronto, Drake sure does love himself some Bay Area rap. And really, there ain’t a thing wrong with it. I’m from Australia and have been listening to that NorCal funk since I was bootlegging my cousin’s Spice-1 tapes.

The difference of course is that I’m a fan. It’s cool for me to like whatever music comes to me. Drake is an artist, with his own city to rep. This is the guy with Weston Road Flows. This is the guy constantly putting on for the 6. Even going so far to turn it upside down, make it a 9 now (damn that was a lame-ass line though Aubrey). VIEWS is basically a love letter for the city. He put on fellow Toronto residents DVSN and PARTYNEXTDOOR, and his early co-sign was a significant part of The Weeknd’s transition from Tumblr artist to model-dating megastar.

Drake is Toronto. Who was reppin for Canada before Drizzy? Kardinal Offishal and Choclair? Come on now.

Despite all his work putting his city and country on however, Drake has consistently shown a weird fascination with a city 2250 miles away, which has pretty much nothing in common with his hometown.

Dude just loves the Bay Area.

2013 – “The Motto” music video

“The Motto” music video starts with a few words from Mac Wanda, features cameos from E-40 and Mistah F.A.B, and of course includes the “rest in peace Mac Dre, I’ma do it for the Bay” line. The whole video is shot in the Bay Area, and the beat from T-Minus is 100% some Bay shit.

The Motto divided opinions; some thought it was cool that he was shining a little light on the Bay. Others were unhappy that Drake, Lil Wayne and Tyga co-opted what was cool, came in, cashed out and bailed.

2014 – Flipping Rappin’ 4-Tay lyrics

The next chapter in Drake’s diary of Bay Area love letters was his guest spot on YG’s Who Do You Love, when he opened his verse with the following bars;

I got a shorty name Texas Syn
She got a buddy named Young JB and now you know the deal
We turnt up in the studio late night
That’s why the songs that you hear are comin’ real tight

It was of course a reference to Rappin’ 4-Tay’s Playaz Club, which opens:

I got a ho named Reel-to-Reel
She got a buddy named SP 12, now you know the deal
We gets freaky in the studio late night
That’s why the beats that you hear are coming real tight

Drake might have called it ‘paying homage’ but Rappin’ 4-Tay damn sure didn’t see it that way.

While 4-Tay didn’t pursue legal action, the drama was reportedly settled when Drake paid up to the tune of $100,000.

2015 – Inspiring Mac Wanda to make the Mac Dre Documentary

Let Mac Wanda tell it, and the Mac Dre: Legend of the Bay documentary was actually inspired in part by Drake. In an interview with All Hip Hop, Mac Dre’s dear mama had this to say:

“I met with Drake in San Francisco we sat down and he talked with me about how Mac Dre impacted his life and his career, what he’s doing and the big impact that Mac Dre had when Drake was a young boy,” Salvattto said. “So listening to that, it kind of opened up my eyes that maybe I do need to do this. If Andre was alive he would definitely be capitalizing and making as much money as he could.”

2016 – Flipping Too $hort lyrics

Proving that he truly can’t go a year without paying homage to some sort of Bay Area figure, Drake kicked off his DJ Khaled collab “For Free” with the following four bars.

I go on and on
Can’t understand how I lasted so long
I must have the superpowers
Last 223 thousand hours

Which, obviously, sounded a lot like the first four bars on Too $hort’s “Blow The Whistle”

I go on and on
Can’t understand how I last so long
I must have super powers
Rap 225 thousand hours

Proving to be one of the coolest OGs in the game, Too $hort had no beef with Drake fitting some new tyres on his classic ride. The Oakland vet actually annotated the song on Genius, telling fans “it’s a refreshing spin on the music,” before elaborating further.

“I take it as him paying homage. I take it as—loud and clear—”I know your music, I’m a fan.“ I don’t see it any different in the studio with my producers trying to catch a vibe off a Motown song or George Clinton. It’s the music that you grew up on.

I’m talking about rapping, he’s talking about fucking for 223 thousand hours. I can’t tell you how many times I sat in the studio listening to George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelics trying to figure out how to make a song similar to what they did. Drake doesn’t go around flipping Too $hort songs, it’s just a moment they had in the studio. “Blow The Whistle” has been played a lot over the last 10 years.”

$hort Dogg is a cool motherfucker.

After thinking about all this geographically-specific appropriation, the question really is why? His peers in the industry (except 4-Tay of course) aren’t really tripping on it, and the average person from the Bay is probably more confused than pissed about Drake’s weird fascination with their hometown. There’s no harm done – in fact, it’s probably beneficial – but there’s no clear answer as to what exactly dude is doing.

Is he just legitimately a fan paying homage? Is he trying too hard to be down?

Looking back to a 2011 post on the OVO blog though, it gets a little more unusual. Peep what Drake said about Tumblr.

“Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they’re just taking these images and living vicariously through other people’s moments. It just kills me. Then you’ll meet them and they’re just the biggest turkey in the world. They don’t actually embody any of those things. They just emulate. It’s scary man, simulation life that we’re living. It scares me.”

Sounds kinda familiar right?


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