'Fan girl' meets PhD: Why Drake is the subject of a doctorate
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, January 23, 2017 9:26AM EST
What kind of rapper puts his parents, his crappy first job and his bar mitzvah footage in his music videos?
Only Drake, the unapologetically Toronto-born, biracial rapper who's become one of the biggest names in the music world.
Canadian student Amara Pope has been peeling back the layers of Drake's music videos to get at what makes him so popular, as she works toward a PhD in media studies at Western University.
Pope says Drake appeals to a broad range of tastes because he embraces his Canadian roots, his religious background, his African-Jewish heritage and his tremendous success in the United States.
"He's uniquely positioned, based on his own experiences, to draw on these different aspects of his identity," Pope told CTV's Your Morning on Monday.
Pope, who started her research as a master’s student at Wilfrid Laurier University, focused her research on how Drake embraces his many identities through his music videos for "H.Y.F.R.," "Started from the Bottom" and "Worst Behavior."
Each video shows Drake embracing his roots. In "H.Y.F.R.," for instance, the video opens with actual footage of Drake from his bar mitzvah, and leads into a remixed, rap-style recreation of the Jewish rite of manhood.
Pope points out that "Worst Behavior" uses the American spelling of the word, and features Drake's father, an African-American, in the video shot in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.
But perhaps the most unapologetically Canadian video of the bunch is "Started from the Bottom," in which Drake shows his Toronto roots. The rapper is shown walking through his Rosedale neighbourhood, working at his teenage part-time job at Shoppers Drug Mart, and flying over the CN Tower. His mother is also shown in the video, before the setting shifts from the snow-swept streets of T.O. to California, where Drake has achieved mainstream success in the music industry.
"He's capitalizing on this Canadian identity but he's pitching himself as American," Pope said.
She added that she loves combining her academic career with "being a fan girl."