Disregarding the cultural stigma attached to male intimacy and emotional vulnerability – how Drake is changing rap forever

Emma Louise Nolan

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Men find it extremely difficult to open up – Photo Credit: Jagerroos

The male species often struggle when it comes to intimacy and emotional vulnerability. From a very early age men are instructed to be ‘hard’ and emotionless. The idea of displaying emotional vulnerability is an alien concept.

As a result of this harsh and manly upbringing, numerous men struggle with intimacy later on in life. Most men often isolate the word intimacy with ‘sex’. The reason being sex is one of the rare occasions when a man allows himself to become emotionally vulnerable, which is often a forced state rather than a choice. Intimacy involves showing ourselves to another person, flaws included. As a result of growing up in an environment in which it was frowned upon to display emotions, men don’t know how to handle the vulnerability that manifests during sex.

But intimacy goes way beyond just sex. Intimacy is so much more. Intimacy is not  always a good thing. It can be horrible at times and feel incredibly painful, like when a loved one dies. On the other hand, intimacy can feel great, like being in love. So many men associate intimacy with weakness and fragility.

But one man who is going against these inherited cultural masculine norms is Aubrey Graham, also known as Drake. Since Drake first came on the scene way back when, he’s been reshaping the masculine stereotypes  without even trying. Aside from the rare critic who claims that Drake is too “soft,” the  hip-hop industry has predominantly welcomed his take on male masculinity and vulnerability.

Drake performing in Dublin Sunday 19th February – Photo Credit: Emma Nolan

While rappers like Lil Wayne produce lyrics such as  “I’ll make that bitch scream, and shout, and let it all out, I’ll put it in her backyard like a fuckin’ doghouse” Drake is saying “I’m willing to work it out however long it takes you” and “I better find your loving, I better find your heart, I bet I give you all my love, then nothing’s going to tear us apart.”

You can always expect to see an amplitude of Drake Memes embedded on social media and although these memes attempt to make Drake the punch line of jokes, people are actually using Drake memes and quotes to describe their current emotional state. Teenage boys post memes of emotional Drake, ironically to express their own feelings without actually personally admitting it.

Views sold 892,000 copies in its first week and sat at No. 1 on Billboard 200 for 13 weeks. Furthermore Views was Spotify’s most streamed album of 2016. Just this week Drake played two sold out gigs in Dublin’s 3 Arena. Drake has proven he doesn’t have to conform to what the hip hop scene has always been. He’s proud to be himself and show the world his vulnerability.

Boy Meets World Tour, 19th February 2016, The 3 Arena, Dublin – Photo Credit: Emma Nolan

When it comes to Drake’s song writing, you know can feel that he’s writing from personal experiences. On his 2011 album, Take Care, Drake retaliated to his critics by issuing this disclaimer: “Showing emotion don’t ever mean I’m a pussy.”

Drake’s vulnerability has changed the rap industry and shown that its not necessarily a bad thing to be emotional in the hyper-aggressive culture that we call hip-hop.

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Emma Louise Nolan