Meaning: If you guessed that it’s “hip-hop with emo(tional) lyrics,” you don’t get a prize.
Usage: “Drake has raised his game significantly, cornering the market in emo-hop. There’s few ‘hands in the air’ moments, but instead there’s depth and intelligence here that makes him stand out from the crowd.” — NME.com
You should know it because: The new Drake album Take Care is officially out today, so even though it leaked all over the place last week and every music blog has already posted track-by-track reviews and g-chat discussions of its game-changing properties, now is a good time to talk about emo-hop. The premise of this stupidly named faux-hybrid genre is simply this: pimps is ladies too (see: Jay-Z, “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”). And in the still-macho rap game, nobody’s as ladylike as Aubrey Drake Graham because, first of all, what kind of Jane Austen name is that? Secondly, he grew up on Degrassi and in Forest Hill, so he maybe got shot nine times with a Nerf gun. Maybe.
But somehow, with his self-conscious, melancholy groove, Drake not only broke into but shook up contemporary hip-hop. Already his producers/protégés, The Weeknd, are taking emo-hop to new heights of ecstasy-stoked cuddle puddles, Kid Cudi has a song called “Is There Any Love?” (awwwww!), and it’s hard not to think Kanye was thinking of his young competitor when he made a song with world’s saddest man, Bon Iver. Then again, maybe blame this one on T.I., who collaborated with Fall Out Boy, a.k.a. where emo went to die, back in 2008—when Drake was just a wee baby rapper.
Unsurprisingly, bitches-and-money-type rap fans aren’t crazy about Drake’s rise. One comment found on an online GQ post: “Drake is more Barbie than Nicki Minaj.” To which Drake, in the post, had a pre-emptive strike: “I wish that we lived in a time and a generation where people would stop viewing my honesty as overly emotional. People always act like I spend my life crying in a dark room. I don’t, I’m good. I’m a man.” Oh, so we’re all clear on our gender roles then? Good. Now I’m gonna keep listening to that Drake/RiRi track on repeat.
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