Let’s back up one second before we get to Drake and his Twitter rant (mostly now deleted) over his Rolling Stone story, and the planned accompanying cover getting bumped in favor of one memorializing Philip Seymour Hoffman. Let’s first pour one out for the story’s author, Jonah Weiner.
No matter how jaded you are as a music writer, every music writer at heart is a big pop-culture geek with a stroke of ego – guy got to interview like the biggest pop artist out there right now for the biggest magazine, and his cover gets bumped. Drake is probably not the only one upset about this.
I mean look, he was psyched about his #longread.
What Weiner’s probably not that upset about, though, is Drake catching feelings about the whole episode, and about the interview itself. For some reason – and it’s happened before – the Smooth One has yet to realize, even throughout a successful, media-saturated career, that an interview does not always necessarily mean PR.
Well, it sure seems like that in the era of press-release-copy-and-pasting blogging, but legit journalists dig deep to get enough stuff for a multi-page profile, and it isn’t always nice or easy.
A former Rolling Stone editor summed it up nicely on Twitter:
When artists get upset, it's usually because they lost control for a moment and opened up. Which means the reporter did their job.— Monica Herrera (@lapuravida) February 13, 2014
She also informed us that Weiner boasts a proud history of bad-ass interviewing that results in unscripted responses.
…Duh. Traffic overload as everyone rushes to Google “Drake Rolling Stone” after his histrionics.
But while everyone’s busy talking about Drake’s drama, did anybody read the actual thing? Or did we just skip to the crap he said about Yeezus, which Drizzy said he didn’t comment on for the “interview portion” of the whole thing?
Drake: You have good media people. If you’re sitting around with a reporter who is taking notes or rolling some kind of recording device, it is still the “interview portion,” unless you specifically say something is “off the record.” (To be safe, ask ‘em to turn the recorder off or put the pen down. Easy.)
The Yeezus commentary is hardly beef-worthy:
“There were some real questionable bars on [Yeezus]. Like that ’Swaghili’ line? Come on, man. Even Fabolous wouldn’t say some shit like that.”
Hardly some Nas “Ether”-level insult.
What else do we learn from reading the profile? Drake is a 27-year-old enjoying the kind of fun house a filthy-rich 27-year-old should have, full of James Bond-style rotating bookshelves. He (pretty rightfully) thinks the Grammys don’t really respect “urban” music, and he loves the artist James Turrell. He looks up the stuff we say about him on the internet and turn into memes.
Weiner’s writing here is tight, his reporting on Aubrey’s bio is equally tight, and the thing reads entertainingly if you’re predisposed to like Drake. (Or even if you’re not really predisposed to like him—you’ll find the descriptions of his waterfall and female-shaped pool sculptures ridiculous, probably.)
But there’s nothing here that’s off-brand. You’d expect Drake to be the guy who checks up on his internet gossip, who keeps empty horse stables just because, who calls his mansion the YOLO estate with, probably, little irony. It’s an image he’s no doubt carefully cultivated over his musical career.
So what exactly was he so mad about? A couple tossed-off lines about Yeezus and getting bumped from the cover because Phillip Seymour Hoffman died?
Hey, maybe that’s on brand, too.
This non-pology for the freak-out, later issued on his October's Very Own blog, is classic Drake too:
"The circumstances at hand are completely justifiable (on the magazines behalf), but I was not able to salvage my story or my photos and that was devastating. They ran the issue without giving me a choice to be in it or not. I would have waited until it was my time because I understand the magnitude of the cover they chose but I just wasn’t given that option and that made me feel violated."
You'd have to actually read the thing to enjoy the full sprawl of that story, though, plus the incredibly Drake-y photo layout. And with each passing tweet, there’s less and less motivation to do so.
Great job all around, everyone. Here’s the RS article, BTW – required reading before further blogging on the matter.
Arielle Castillo is Fusion's culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She's also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.