Title: "5AM In Toronto"
Album: Non-album single (2013)
Aubrey "Drake" Graham is an unavoidable presence in today's incarnation of our chosen genre. He's overexposed to a fault, too easily meme-able, and even with his money and alleged power, all of those acts on his vanity label aren't ever going to manage to do any-fucking-thing, but thankfully, he does have some good-to-great songs under his belt. "5AM In Toronto" just so happens to be one of them, conveniently enough.
The second in a series of tracks which depicted the self-proclaimed 6 God running through his thoughts at a given time and place (the third entry was released this year on his free mixtape-turned-contractual-obligation If You're Reading This You're Too Late, which I will get to eventually), "5AM In Toronto" was leaked as a way to promote his then-forthcoming third full-length album Nothing Was The Same. It easily bests pretty much everything on that fucking album that wasn't "Started From The Bottom". And just like that hit single, "5AM In Toronto" finds our host putting aside his too-emotionally-observant schtick in favor of shit-talking and making vague threats, as rappers are wont to do. However, "Started From The Bottom", a song I will go officially on record as liking quite a bit (Mike Zombie's beat makes the track, in my opinion, and I prefer the extended mix with much more instrumental that you can easily find online), came packaged with the punchline "But you didn't actually start at the bottom, Jimmy from Degrassi: The Next Generation, you son of a bitch", which tore away at Aubrey's credibility just a tad bit.
"5AM In Toronto" has no such issues: you are listening to a man who has reached a higher level of success than he had dreamed of, with no sign of stopping anytime soon, and his rhymes reflect that shift in his lifestyle. Over a pounding Boi-1da beat (which he created with assists from Khromatik and Vinylz) with easily the hardest drums Aubrey has ever been connected with, our host delivers one long-ass verse that kicks off with the line, "You underestimated greatly", and keeps dragging out example upon example afterward. Confident braggart Drake is much more appealing than the crying Drake that makes frequent appearances on his albums: even without his acting background coming into question, he actually has earned all of his success, and it's hard to take all of that away from him. This is why an otherwise-corny line such as "I could load every gun with bullets that fire backwards / You probably wouldn't lose a single rapper" works for him, even though conjuring up an image of Aubrey Graham rolling his wheelchair through the hood on some drive-by shit of his own makes everyone laugh uncontrollably at its absurdity. Drake isn't getting anywhere near a water gun, let alone something that could actually cause some damage.
With the aggressive tactics, abrasive and cocky flow, and his boasts 'n bullshit, Drake positions himself as a force to be reckoned with behind the microphone. I realize that sounds preposterous and I probably just lost a few readers, but here's the thing: I don't hate Drake. Never have. I certainly make fun of him a lot, and I don't care for a lot of his dealings with other rappers I actually don't like, but Aubrey has used the short period of time he's been successful (post-mixtapes) to hone his craft, and his writing has only gotten better. "5AM In Toronto" is just a catchy-ass song, with a fucking contagious beat that will make you nod your head, until you shake the same head in disagreement with the knowledge that he left this song off of the same album that produced the atrocious "Worst Behavior", and oh man, does that song blow. But we'll always have Toronto.
Apparently Drake shot a low-key video for "5AM In Toronto" that I had never seen before today, so that's the clip I included above. It's nothing special, but it exists, so.
Do you agree or disagree with this selection? Discuss below.