Why Drake’s ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’ Should Win the Polaris Prize

Musician Drake gestures during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 8, 2015. The maker of iPods and iPhones introduced Apple Music, its new streaming-music service. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

by Chris Wheeler 

I know what you’re going to say, Polaris friends.

“Drake doesn’t deserve it; he’s too popular, too mainstream.”
“Drake doesn’t need it; the money would mean so much more to other acts.”

And I hear you. I hear you every year. I’ve heard you each of the last two times Drake has been nominated for the Polaris Prize longlist and then again when he graduated to the shortlist. I’ve heard you this year, echoing this same boring refrain. I’ve heard you and I don’t care. What’s more, the Polaris Prize doesn’t care.

The Polaris Prize is selected “without regard to musical genre, professional affiliation, or sales history.” Emphasis is my own. Now I know, this doesn’t change how we #feel. But this argument, this yearly gripe directed toward the truly global Canadian acts that find themselves on the long and shortlist is so massively distracting and unimportant. The reasons are arbitrary, misunderstand the Polaris Prize’s true purpose, and do not even engage with any value Drake’s music might have.

And so, in anticipation of all arbitrary and unhelpful the sentences that start with “Drake doesn’t…” I have taken it upon myself to consult the source material, Drake’s If You’re Reading This it’s Too Late, with a very close listening and provide a less arbitrary (but still very arbitrary) list of things that “Drake doesn’t…” in order to, perhaps, bring you around to the opinion that maybe “Drake does…” and that your arbitrary reasons might need reexamining.

Without any further ado, here is Grayowl Point’s Top 57 Things That Drake Doesn’t…

Drake doesn’t…

1. pretend or joke with his mother (because he takes his craft seriously);

2. go online during the day because there are too many distraction;

3. act, those days are over, and he is now completely dedicated to his music;

4. care if you’re a stripper (how progressive);

5. discuss how many bands he has, though it is probably more than 100 (and they may or may not be coming to a Polaris Prize short- or longlist near you);

6. have his phone on in the club;

7. know how much he made off the Air Jordan’s contract though it was probably a lot (hey, at least he’s being honest)

8. have time for shakiness;

9. help the police when they come around looking for help on a case;

10. know whether he’s going to get it all in;

11. think he would pass a hypothetical physical (which is great because you don’t need one to win the Polaris Prize);

12. see another squad trying to cross his squad;

13. have a code of ethics;

14. know what he’s willing to give her to get what he wants tonight (by this we can infer he knows that bribery is wrong but he has thought about it because he wants to win so bad);

15. like coming through and stunting on people he doesn’t know (this is very reasonable, I respect this and so should you);

16. pass the ball when he gets it;

17. drive his Bentleys anymore;

18. think you’d make it on the 6 side (fiercely Canadian, Drake doesn’t think a single act from south of the border could qualify for the Polaris Prize even if they were eligible);

19. care about what anyone is saying right now (very topical);

20. know where his check is (Drake feels snubbed by the last time he didn’t win);

21. even need a scam (he feels very confident in his album on its own merits);

22. get scared;

23. reply to texts from centrefolds though he’ll let the centrefolds know he read their message (it’s still unclear whether he will let you know if he’s coming to the Polaris after party or not);

24. wear any less than 5 chains even though they get tangled;

25. stay in the basement on the phones, he had to leave that well enough alone;

26. listen to others when he’s mixing drugs and alcohol;

27. take calls directly for fear they might be recorded but if you call his assistant, she’ll take a message (take note Polaris after party planning people);

28. make an appearance on Wednesday Night Interlude;

29. see truth in anyone but himself and only when he’s staring in the mirror;

30. play with it;

31. know what you’re saying (when you say he doesn’t need the money or deserve it because he’s very already accomplished);

32. (and to that point) need your acceptance or anything else;

33. want to take any chances (with his relationships, he takes plenty of with chances with his music);

34. obey the laws of gravity when the windows are down (being a God has its perks);

35. know that it takes some time to get used to crowns (so humble);

36. have posters of people that Shaq is posting upon though he did at some point;

37. need anybody because he runs his own life;

38. work the dayshift;

39. do tapes for CNN (he’s more about the people);

40. try to win awards (the art is more important than the accolades);

41. want you to worry, you know that you’ve got him and he knows that his friends have got him too;

42. sleep on the floor;

43. want to miss the boat or sit in coach or at home, he needs to get where he’s going and know what it means to be on the road;

44. want you to hold back from saying what you want to say;

45. look back anymore (he’s really looking forward to winning Polaris);

46. want you to have any doubts about how it went and that’s why he repeats himself sometimes;

47. want you to hold him back because he wants to bring it home to you (he will literally bring his Polaris cheque home to you, yes you, if he wins);

48. know if you’re single or not and wonders if you’re from Kentucky or Houston;

49. want to have to think about being in his prime and will have company over to distract himself;

50. like fighting or having to take a tone with his mother (aww);

51. want to be vulnerable (so human);

52. make up stories about where he’s actually from (he’s from Toronto);

53. condone you throwing stones at him;

54. sit in one place effectively;

55. think that you should pay attention to what they say on your timeline (the real truth is in his music);

56. know if you’re still down for the cause or if you, as a pair, are still on good terms; and

57. think we’re doing enough about social issues and thinks that we Tweet too much (PREACH).

The fact that the focus is so often on the artists we don’t like personally, ignores that the Prize is awarded to an album and not an artist. It completely ignores the music we should or could be championing. If we engage with the album and we engage with the list as whole, it becomes a lot harder to argue that a single artist is underserving because they are all deserving, including Drake. When our reasoning becomes legitimate if not reasonable, and avoids arbitrary distinctions, we can truly celebrate all the shortlisted albums for their true artistry and relate to them on a more meaningful level.

So have a listen. Or don’t. To be fair, If You’re Reading This it’s Too Late anyway.

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