“This s**t sounds like…what being rich feels like”.
These are the first words we hear on “My Side”, Drake’s recently-surfaced bonus track from surprise mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, released last spring. Now we’re not exactly new to Drake venting about his love life and the emotional challenges that come with fame, but this methodical, thumping R&B/stream-of-consciousness narrative feels just as fresh as it is raw. I can’t exactly tell you “what being rich feels like”, but man, does Drake make it seem more complicated than it looks. Drake confronts his love interest, accusing her that she “don’t ever come to where [he] stay”, all the while pleading to let her explain his side of things. He’s frustrated that he can’t get on the same page as this girl, especially because she always wants to hide out in her New York condo instead of spend time with him. (Some people think this is a reference to Rihanna’s New York apartment, but I’ll let you interpret that). While the disconnect between Drake and his girl is obvious, the opposite is true for him and his longtime producer, Boi-1da.
Throughout Drake’s career, he’s managed to balance lyrical acumen with his considerable singing talent and instrumentation. That’s what makes him so special: the dynamic nature of his music. The range of his talent spans genres, from the slow-jam “Marvin’s Room”, where he croons about how his ex girlfriend can do better than the man she’s found herself with, all the way to “Back to Back”: his vicious, chorus-less diss record aimed at rapper Meek Mill. “My Side” harnesses Drake’s lyrical capacity and pairs it with stunningly executed production. It’s rare when a beat can so profoundly mirror an artist’s message, but Boi-1da’s work here is outstanding. The 28-year old Jamaica native has been a longtime partner of Drake’s, dating all the way back to his 2009 debut smash single “Best I Ever Had”. Despite such a long partnership, it really is hard for me to recall another track where these two have been in such synchrony. The production of “My Side” is hazy, slurred, soulful, and contemplative. You can almost see Drake stumbling through the club at 4AM dialing this girl’s number. Despite being wrapped up in the throes of this ultra-lavish, bottle buying, club-hopping lifestyle, it’s obvious his real happiness has eluded him thus far.
As Boi-1da’s beat swirls, swells, and recedes, we’re jarred back awake by a powerful but not overdone drum kick. It’s sleepy and dense and lush all at the same time. Amist all this, Drake demands to know, “Why are we wasting our relationship on a relationship?”. I’m more than happy to let him explain his side as long as these two stick together.