I remember standing in my friend Daniela’s dorm room during one of my countless visits to UMass Amherst. I would routinely plan these brief sabbaticals from my hometown to escape the swallowing depression staying home for college had brought on.
Replacement Girl was playing from her thick black (I think) Dell laptop. We listened intently, verklempt that the best (hottest) actor on Degrassi was also pretty good at making music.
There was a connectivity I had never felt before, that came when I listened to Drake for the first time. For all the love and appreciation I had for Jay-Z, Mos Def, Common, etc. those artists music never felt for me - and it wasn’t. I was a little white girl from the suburbs of Queens, I wasn’t exactly the target demo but I still listened. I loved it all and the window it built into an experience entirely different from my own.
But something about Drake’s music fit like a missing puzzle piece, like I had searched my entire life trying to envision or hear the music I would always be in the mood to listen to and finally, there it was.
There was also the fact that he was the first artist I started listening to who wasn’t funneled through a recommendation from a boy I had a crush on, and THAT. FELT. HUGE. I acquired a sense of ownership. He was all mine and no unrequited love or elusive crush would ever taint my relationship with his music.
And ya know sure, he’s also half-Jewish, and having not grown up in the Beastie Boys era, this was the first time I was witnessing a part of myself actually manifest in the hip-hop world. I felt included. Years later, I would come to terms with the fact that Drake is probably just like all the boys who have broken my heart in the past but guess what bitch: predictably, I’m still here.
This week, February 13th to be specific, marked the 10 year anniversary of Drake’s third mixtape So Far Gone, the tape that changed the course of his life and if you’ve been reading this blog (thank you) you know how big a sucker for nostalgia I am. Can’t get enough of the stuff!
Some of the most vivid memories I have from my late teens/early 20’s are driving around my hometown by myself or with friends, with SFG echoing in the background. I use the term ‘friends’ here very loosely as some of them had short lived arcs and were exclusively people I would smoke weed with. I was desperate for some small semblance of companionship because all of my real friends had made the smart decision to go away for college while I hung back for what are positively imbecilic reasons.
It’s a happy ending though, I transferred to a school upstate after two years and now my life is perfect.
Music was a way to fill the silence with these non-friends when I felt too socially anxious or self-conscious. This mixtape felt like a lottery ticket of endless conversation. Something I had in common with people I had nothing in common with.
It feels a bit challenging to articulate my feelings on this specific body of work, a project that ushered me into adulthood and carried me through the first experience I was aware of having with depression. The mixtape, especially when played all the way through, gave me reassurance that the vision I had for my life and who I was going to grow into would eventually come to fruition.
It’s fascinating to listen to the mixtape now because of how I have developed and how both easy and difficult it is to remember who I was in 2009.. A lot of the topics discussed on the mixtape are still things I relate to and understand but because I carry myself so differently, it feels like So Far Gone was my therapy before I had a therapist. For so long I was under the guise that my default setting was sadness and during that time, this was one of the few things that brought me organic joy.
The melancholia of So Far Gone touched on all the lows I was experiencing, but moved me through them and evoked the thought that even though people can be fleeting, so are feelings; and even when it doesn’t feel like it, some thing at some point will work out if you just keep going, whatever that means.
The blog thumbnail is from when my friends and I saw Young Money at SPAC in Saratoga. So Far Gone had been released but Drake wasn’t big enough yet to be given a full set.
My little pea brain did not know Houstatlantavegas was about a stripper until a few years after I had heard it and I connected it with it SO HARD.
So Far Gone has some of the most insane Weezy lyrics.
I learned about so many other artists just because of this mixtape alone.
Most of this project aged really well except for a moment on The Calm that I won’t go into any further because this is not an album review.
Now, when are Room for Improvement and Comeback Season coming to streaming services?!
Sooner Than Later…I always forget, but my god.