The legend, the lore, the meme.
Credit: Mashable, Ian Moore / Image credits: Mark Brown / Getty Images Sport / Prince Williams / WireImage / getty

When Drake dropped his album For All The Dogs in October, it was apparent that the multi-Grammy winner was favoring “homies over romantic interests.” The album, considered a disappointment by critics, was seen as Drake’s attempt to attract the alpha male crowd, albeit falling short in its execution.

Out of this album intended for “the boys,” a wave of memes emerged portraying Drake as someone lacking in assertiveness. Following the release of For All The Dogs, TikTok videos surfaced, poking fun at Drake’s performance on the track “IDGAF” featuring rapper Yeat. These memes called attention to Drake’s overly enthusiastic and flamboyant delivery of the line, “Money for fun.”

The memes featuring Yeat and Drake are not an isolated case. Drake’s entire online presence is constructed around his perceived awkwardness, as he is known for being emotional, speaking openly about his feelings, and adopting a new persona with each album release. It’s cringe-worthy, yet that seems to be the entire point.

Drake’s Unique Persona

Hailing from Toronto as a biracial, Jewish man, Drake diverges significantly from the typical image of a rapper. Typically, rappers are expected to exude toughness and resilience, akin to artists like DMX, Pusha T, and Biggie Smalls, projecting an image of streetwise, drug-dealing affiliations. In contrast, Drake is often seen as soft and unassuming. This aspect has made him an easy target for social media mockery for years, but part of Drake’s allure appears to be his complicity in this character.

“Drake and his OVO team have actively participated in meme culture throughout his career, dating back to the time when he became the first rapper to freestyle on Hot 97 with Funkmaster Flex, using his Blackberry,” commented Dalton Higgins, a professor based in Toronto and the author of Far From Over: The Music & Life of Drake. “Fast forward to today, and I suspect his team purposefully creates art that lends itself to being meme-friendly.”

This leads to a larger question: Is Drake truly the architect of his own memes, or is this another example of popular culture emasculating light-skinned Black men over the years?


Ghostwriter, the talent behind the viral Drake/Weeknd song, believes AI music is comparable to fanfiction

The Perceptions of “Light-Skinned Men”

For decades, popular culture has portrayed Black men based on skin color. Historically, this distorted portrayal began with D.W Griffith’s racist 1915 film The Birth of A Nation, where Black men, often played by white actors in Blackface, were depicted as unintelligent, sexually aggressive beings, reinforcing harmful racial biases that persist in Hollywood to this day.

Expanding on this cinematic legacy, the entertainment industry has consistently perpetuated colorism, often favoring lighter-skinned Black individuals over their darker-skinned counterparts. This bias is evident in casting choices, favoring lighter-skinned individuals for more complex and desirable roles, while relegating darker-skinned individuals to roles that perpetuate negative stereotypes or are less central to the plot. This bias reflects a broader societal inclination in entertainment, equating whiteness with superiority and desirability.

This all underlines the notion that society tends to hold more favorable perceptions towards light-skinned men compared to their dark-skinned counterparts. A 2014 study on skin tone discrimination of African-American men revealed that dark-skinned men were often stereotyped as “bad boys” and highly dangerous, while being idealized as possessing heightened masculine traits like dominance, strength, and confidence.


Drake’s exes band together in new ‘SNL’ sketch

Drake’s Place in This Narrative

Considering this societal backdrop, it’s reasonable to assume that light-skinned Black men are viewed differently from their darker-skinned counterparts. There exists an entire meme subculture stereotyping the “effeminate” behavior of light-skinned men. Within the Black community, light-skinned men are often portrayed as “cute” and more emotionally connected, likely fueling the expressive faces and exaggerated movements depicted in some TikTok memes.

To his credit, Drake seems to encapsulate all these perceptions in his online presence.

“It’s pure marketing genius in 2023. If we were in a pre-TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram era, I’d say that Drake’s memeification process would bring about shame, embarrassment, and ridicule,” remarked Higgins. “But with less emphasis on artists releasing high-quality rap material, it seems that any artist with a gimmick and strong marketing can attain the levels of success seen with Ice Spice and Drake.”

This situation underscores Drake’s ability to stay relevant and ultimately underscores the irony of For All The Dogs. The album failed to resonate with an audience that never saw Drake as anything more than a soft, nerdy individual, illustrating that, at this stage of his career, Drake has become a caricature of himself.

Drake has never fully controlled how social media pokes fun at him. However, he skillfully leverages it to his advantage, particularly in an era where one viral TikTok sound could mean a hit. While he may not be the chief architect of his own memeification today, it still works in his favor.

Social Media

Portrait of a Black man

Chance Townsend
Assistant Editor, General Assignments

Currently based in Austin, Texas, Chance Townsend serves as an Assistant Editor at Mashable. He holds a Master’s in Journalism from the University of North Texas, with a primary focus on online communities, dating apps, and professional wrestling in his research.

In his leisure time, he enjoys cooking, sleeping, and “enduring” the disappointments of the Lions and Pistons on a weekly basis. For any compelling stories or recipes, you can reach him by email at [email protected].


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *