“Most rappers abhor an attention vacuum and will kick the door down with guns blazing to announce their return. Drake clears his throat”. In rap and pop culture, many artists use misogynistic lyrics and portrayals of women as a way to assert their masculinity, reflect mainstream attitudes towards women, and promote internalized negative stereotypes towards women. In Drake’s 2011 hit Marvin’s Room, the well known rapper depicts an inebriated telephone call to his ex-girlfriend pleading for her to rekindle their relationship. Drake normalizes emotions in today’s society through Marvin’s Room, which in turn revolutionizes masculinity in rap and pop culture yet while still maintaining misogynistic views. Music in this generation tends to objectify women and promote sexist views, but Drake eloquently contradicts rap norms by switching typical gender roles in relationships.
Marvin’s Room is told from the point of view of an intoxicated Drake as he calls his past lover to express his ongoing frustration and feelings of loneliness. The song rides a hazy, subdued beat designed to match the narrator’s cloudy state of mind, which illustrates a foggy aesthetic and somber atmosphere. Drake is engulfed in the nightclub scenery, drinking champagne and dark liquor, when he starts reminiscing about his past relationship. He decides to call his former significant other to profess his love for her, knowing that she has moved on with someone else. Despite his frustrations over their breakup and his obvious loneliness, Drake reiterates to her his superiority over his replacement and repeatedly cajoles her to return to him. He also mentions that the women with whom he has had intercourse and to whom he has provided financial support after their relationship do not satisfy him. Ultimately, his plaintive requests go unrequited.
Drake’s sense of need and guilt are prevalent through his message in Marvin’s Room. The portrait he’s painted is that of a desperate, lonely man. Not many rappers are capable of writing something with such an emotional impact. Drake is idolized as an advocate in the transparency of emotions. In Marvin’s Room, Drake frets about lost love; realizing that his relationship with this one woman is more valuable than he first presumed. It is common for men to be phobic towards anything correlated to femininity including emotions especially in rap and pop culture, but Drake revolutionizes this ideology by enmeshing the publication of feelings in rap and pop culture. Drake exclaims, “I need you right now are you down to listen to me”, allowing the world to capture his helplessness and need for the woman’s love which is not typical in today’s generation. Customarily, women are taught to freely express their emotions while men are taught to be more stoic. “Marvin’s Room” normalizes men being affectionate and sentimental towards women. With his heart on the line, Drake embodies a victim mentality as he blamed his promiscuity and detrimental actions on the end of his past relationship.
Drake refers to women as “bitches” and undermines women’s views throughout “Marvin’s Room” while still attempting to justify his frustration with the loss of love. “I think I’m addicted to naked pictures and sitting talking about bitches that we almost had. I don’t think I’m conscious of making monsters out of the women I sponsor until it all goes bad but shit it’s all good”. He inflicts androcentrism on the lost relationship; blaming the women for his recent actions. Drake continues to call women “bitches” throughout Marvin’s Room but then realizes his own role in manifesting these women into what his self inflicted definition of “bitches” is. He does not respect his ex-partners new found relationship. Drake questions his past lover’s commitment to her new significant other. “I’m just saying you can do better; tell me have you heard that lately”, is what Drake reiterated to his ex-lover aiming to sabotage her new relationship by any means to rekindle their love, while his claims of wanting to revive their love seems to be extremely skeptical. “I had sex four times this week, I’ll explain” exemplifies the events of a man who partakes in promiscuous acts. Drake’s misogynistic view of using women for his own mental wellness to overcome his feeling of loneliness and desperation overshadowed his desire to reconnect with his prior relationship. Drake’s intent of conveying a sincere message to his past lover is obscured by his ego and newfound fame.
Drake acknowledges that he is “having a hard time adjusting to fame”, in Marvin’s Room, as an explanation for his recent destructive behavior. He assigns fault to his newfound fame as reasoning to why he has been sexaully active with multiple women while blaming his past significant other for not supporting him in this new process. In 2011, when Marvin’s Room was released, Drake had just begun to prevail in the rap industry. With three mixtapes and one album already released: Room For Improvement, Comeback Season, So Far Gone, and Thank Me Later; the release of his single Marvin’s Room is what really got the world fascinated with Drake. Drake embarked on his road to stardom but according to Marvin’s Room, soon got submerged in his own ego and money. “I got some women that’s living off me. Paid for their flights and hotels I’m ashamed. Bet that you know them, I won’t say no names. After a while girl they all seem the same”. While ranting on the phone to his ex-lover, Drake admits to financially supporting and indulging in women. His likelihood of rekindling his relationship gets slimmer and slimmer the more he professes his recent acts. The woman questions Drake, asking, “Are you drunk right now?” to try to understand why he would admit all of those dreadful actions to her. He fails at showing interest in his ex-lover and contradicts his feeling of loneliness if in fact he was occupied with different women all along.
Drake successfully transforms typical gender roles in a relationship within Marvin’s Room by presenting the woman with power and choice. He confronts his ex-girlfriend with a proposition of whether she is willing to be his lover again and provide him with the support that he wants and “needs”. The release of Marvin’s Room influenced women in the music industry to respond to Drake’s drunken call from a woman’s point of view. Teyana Taylor and JoJo, two well-known musicians in the industry, replied to Drake with a witty response from a woman’s point of view. Not only did women respond, but men did as well. Chris Brown and Sammie are two male artists that remixed Marvin’s Room sharing their times of loneliness and seclusion while missing their ex-lovers. Drake made it conventional for male artists to express emotion through rap. His success venturing from the release of Marvin’s Room encouraged other male artists to be in tune with their inner selves and emotions. Drake’s complicated relations with women introduced a new element of rap in today’s generation.
Marvin’s Room extensively captures the critical moment of emotional feeling in rap and pop culture. Drake’s emotional misogyny revolutionizes the masculine dominance in rap and pop culture. He overturned male hierarchy in a relationship, giving the woman the power to decide whether she wanted to return back to him. While still overstepping his boundaries within his past lovers new relationship, Drake’s use of sorrow and emotion compliments the overall message of the song. “Marvin’s Room” is the quintessential illustration of the use of emotional expressivity.
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