Nothing Will Be The Same
It's been far too long since we've spilt some literary gash-frothing on the perfectly unfashionable shoes of Sir Drizzle aka Peppermint Teardrop aka Aubrey Drake Graham aka Drake. Nothing Was The Same, his forthcoming new album, is now only about 80 days from release. It's time to start the countdown clock.
In an attempt to cross-pollinate this webspace's two key target demographics, we're also going to discuss another life-changing event. One that is a lot sooner. So soon, in fact, that it happened on Wednesday this week.
The first game of the 2013 State Of Origin series was everything you and I wanted it to be. It had it all — Queensland losing, New South Wales winning, heaps of cunts in blue wigs. Everything.
Started From The Bottom and kicking off the campaign
Good old reliable Drake. A new album is on the way and here's the lead single. It'll work in the club, girls will shake to it, guys will post up against a wall to it. It's a proven methodology. Thank Me Later was proceeded by Over. Take Care had Headlines. And the Nothing Was The Same campaign was officially launched with Started From The Bottom. Don't get it confused mate/s, this is a campaign. It's a well-orchestrated "roll out". And Started From The Bottom is just step one. The attention-grabber.
Speaking of campaigns, it's advisable that you put your Glouting Pants back into the wardrobe mate/s. That was only game one, there's still 2 to go. Tom Waterhouse is giving New South Wales buckley's-to-1 chance of winning up at Suncorp. And $2.50 on the spread for making it out of the state alive if we are victorious. If we do lose, we're back at The Bush. And it's all squared up. Yep, let's not strip down to our Rod Wishart-branded boxer shorts just yet.
Drake knows all about getting carried away. He's well and truly got his Illawarra Steeler out on Started From The Bottom. Overstating his value. Over-dramatising his situation. It's clearly designed to be a victorious party anthem, but the beat and the hook are flatter than the attacking line of a Chris Anderson coached forward pack.
The actual purpose of Started From The Bottom is fairly simple. It's right there in the song title. Drizzie's life originated from a definite point of disadvantage — in a wheelchair, acting on Degrassi High, arguing with his mom. But through sheer grit and determination (read: Birdman's wealth) he's been able to rise up, somehow curing his quadriplegic ailments. And now he doesn't need to get up at 3am for a casting call, just to be bossed around by that cunt Joey Jeremiah. And him and his mom hardly ever fight now, mostly because she's over in Rome and has no idea what the country code for the United States is.
But the lyrical arrogance of Started From The Bottom is heavily outweighed it's visual accompaniment...
Dressing to match the colour of your car is kind of a douche move. Sure, I occasionally wear a silver one-piece jumpsuit, but on those occasions I leave the Suzuki Swift at home in the garage. Or at the very least, I drive a little faster than 10km/h and I rarely cut the top off and parade down Parramatta Road like a dickhead. Similarly unimpressive is Drake's grocery shop sidekicks and their "comedy routine", complete with sleazy pick-up lines and disgusting beard combs. Worst of all, however, is the scene on the private jet where Drake's date appears to be unconscious. Driz, just because you encountered multiple hurdles during your unfortunate upbringing, including being stuck in "traffic on the way home" after "working all night", there's still no excuse for getting girls so turnt-up on voddy lemonades that they pass out in your jet. Poor form mate.
There was a time when the New South Wales team was stacked with equally unlikable characters. Ricketson, Minichiello, Wing, Gasnier. All the frequent cast members of The Daily Telegraph's "spotted having a latte" column and not a beer gut amongst them. I can't even count the number of post-game interviews I've witnessed over the years that featured Trent Barrett complaining about having his beautifully-shaped melon ripped from his perfectly waxed shoulders by the Honorable Gordon Tallis. Eye-liner unceremoniously running down his face as he sobbed loudly, something about bull-wrestling and an early photo shoot.
But the team of 2013 is a genuinely lovable Mongrel Squad. Gallen, Bird, Ferguson, Fifita. Even Tony Watmough, who as we type is balls deep in your sister, is still a tolerable character in the Origin format. Because different rules apply for Origin — the more of an asshole you are, the more admiration and respect you'll get from your supporters. Origin embraces the fuckwit. It's all about poking someone in the eye when they're getting up off the ground. Nibbling on their ear a little bit in the "scrum". Spiking their halftime Powerade with vodka. And roofies.
One of the highlights of last night was the fact that New South Wales were actually tougher than their northern counterparts. Sir Gallen chin-checking Nate Myles because he'd tickled his leg a few times. Fifita jumping from the stadium's roofing enclosure and crushed Billy Slater's sternum. And then, of course, there's Greg Bird's disgusting Puberty Moustache.
There was nothing pretty about New South Wales on Wednesday night. They were the uglier, dirtier, filthier team. And that's why they won.
5am In Toronto and the return of Sir Willie Mason aka Toronto (NSW)'s favourite son
Toronto is situated about 26 kilometres south of the city of Newcastle, New South Wales. Aside from Olympic gold-medal-winning sailor, Nathan Outteridge, it's most famous offspring is William Mason, former Bulldog and cab-fare dodger, frequent public urinator and general public menace.
Amidst the month of media discussions regarding the team selection, Willie Mason's name (and the usual parade of associated candid snapshots of the Future Immortal) was occasionally thrown into the mix. Many insiders, offsiders and Telegraph readers laughed loudly at the proposition, considering Mason now well into the twilight years of his career. But I for one have always been a big fan of the Willenium, even when he was in his "lanky drunk" period, during which he spilt a whole bourbon and coke on me at Caringbah Bizzos.
It's my belief that Big Will still has the right mix of passion, pride and kilograms to make him a powerful weapon in the fight against the 7-year cain-toad plague.
Speaking of passion, 5am in Toronto, the second offering from the Nothing Was The Same lead-up, is exactly what we want from Drizzle. Sure, the bragging tone isn't much different from Started From The Bottom, but here he sounds completely believable. A single verse, no chorus, top-of-the-dome track. Just straight rapping. No bullshit.
But the song's real strength is the way in which it displays a small glimmer of doubt. Underneath the well-delivered swagger of confidence ("that's why every song sounds like Drake featuring Drake" is a particularly mind-sticking line) there's some uncertainty, most notably his acknowledgement of the pressures associated with living up to the expectations surrounding his upcoming release ("trying to win here again").
Started At The Bottom is just a victory lap, celebrating the result without showing any evidence of the actual success. 5am In Toronto is focused solely on the moment itself, displaying a clear intent on Drake proving his value rather than simply listing some past achievements.
The success of Mason's second career, beginning when he joined the Knights in 2012, has been guided by his frequent need to prove himself. Sure, his sheer physical dominance isn't what it once was, but I would argue that he still would have stepped up to the challenge if selected as part of this year's origin squad. Given Wednesday night's victory — and, most notably, the impressively intimidating performance from Fifita off the bench — it's obvious that Mason's "wildcard" selection wasn't required.
Similarly, it's arguable that "straight MC" songs like 5am In Toronto aren't what Drake should be focusing his attention on. They're not standout "bangers" that'll move units. But, can you even imagine Take Care without Underground Kings? The purpose of songs like 5am In Toronto is not only for Driz to earn some respect from his peers, but it's an essential element of the grand plan. They provide a chance for him to showcase his remarkable flow and silence any critical analysis that he's unevenly balanced himself towards the chart-oriented and/or rhythm-n-blues element of his style.
No New Friends, mateship and everyone still hates Justin Hodges
On April 15, Drake dropped another new song entitled No New Friends, a collaboration with long time mates DJ Khaled, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. The whole gang, back together. And while it's not even in the same realm as their last collaboration — the flawless She Will remix — it's the underlying sentiment that's the true reward. A loud "fuck everyone", with a small font disclaimer "except these guys". We're not interviewing any new members. This is our team.
Every time Justin Hodges touched the ball on Wednesday night the crowd jeered loudly. How quickly we forget. This is the same Hodge Dog that handed us two tries during the 2002 series-opener with his pair of suicide passes in the in-goal area. Sure, we lost the game, but Justy allowed us to stay competitive.
But yeah, fuck Justin Hodges. He's obviously a cunt. He's previously egged-on NSW players to "just try" and knock his top off. Another job for Mason. But it's really just water off a duck's crack to him. He's unaffected by the hate, he's completely unfazed, or possibly even thrives on it. Or, better still, doesn't even notice it. After all, he's got Alfred Langer, Walter Lewis, Lord Bennett and Ben "Tearz" Ikin on his speed-dial, why does he care what 80,000 wig-wearing dickheads think of him.
No New Friends is a celebration of friendship. It's understandable that the song took 3 weeks to record, with the gang stretching out the recording session intentionally because Rick's new Vermont lodge is just the perfect place for some solid bro-time. The fire's going and Khaled just knocked up another batch of his famous ginger and cinnamon cookies. Wayne is outside chasing snowflakes. Drake has some girl problems and just wants to "soundboard it" with the guys. Just some mates making some memories.
The main purpose of State Of Origin is to remind us that Australia was built off the back of mateship. And minerals. It makes you feel bad that you sent the intern to the art's supply store for a transparent png. It makes you want to Gallen your own face for not insisting on one more shout at the pub so that the rounds ended up exactly even. Origin is about being all-in-together, with the sub-goal of smashing the heads of some guys who were born (or raised) in another part of the country. But Origin is primarily about solid pats on the backs, light pecks on the cheeks. It's about cuddles. We're all equals on this stage. People have raised us to this level, told us we're all the best at what we do. It's the comfortable feeling associated with knowing your place. Origin is a sportifcation of mateship.
Girls Love Beyonce, women love Cameron Smith
During Wednesday night's game old mate AH Cayley dropped this comment on the Zuckerbooks:
Spot on. Cameron Smith is a rugged all-Australian, sheep-wrestling hero. He shaves with a machete and doesn't mince his words. He gets top-side and crushes his words. He's Baz Luhrman's Australia, droving and roving and cooking baked beans over a fire while the thunder rolls in from the Nullarbor.
Paul Gallen is a troll who lives under Tom Ugly's Bridge.
But what Gallen lacks in physical beauty he makes up for in hooks.
Nah, the hooks segway is too obvious guys. Even though James Fauntelroy's soulful adaption of Destiny Child's Say My Name for the chorus of Girls Love Beyonce is absolutely delightful.
Girls Love Beyonce dropped the same day as No New Friends. Like Marty Bella playing the ball while facing the wrong try line, Drake forgets where he is at one point during the song, repeated the hook of No New Friends when trying to put forward some legitimate reasoning on why he's once again destroying what could be a long-term relationship.
Drake hates love. He purposefully avoids it, hiding behind desires of a "player lifestyle" when the truth is — he's just scared of getting hurt.
Gallen is equally torn in regards to his role as captain. On one hand he wants to huddle the boys together and tell them a passionate tale of an innocent, blonde-haired eight-year-old fella who has never witnessed a Blues victory. On the other hand he wants to punch the head off every man, woman and child who possesses a Queensland drivers license.
Where Were You (don't fuck this up)
By far, the standout track from the Drake 2013 Campaign (so far) is Where Were You, a stunning collaboration with Dawn Richard.
It's a faultless pop song, an analysis of a missed opportunity at love, formatted into a back-and-forth battle of emotional outpouring. Here Drake is at his simplistic best. Completely unrestricted. No mind is paid to what Wayne and the boys will think. Just Drake wrestling with his own mountain of regrets.
But, unfortunately, Where Were You doesn't feature on the (fairly legit looking) tracklisting that was leaked on Twitter a few weeks ago by Drake's previously estranged father. In fact, from the song's released this year only club-dud, Started From The Bottom, appears.
Who knows, maybe Where Were You has been morphed into an even better song, a soulful collaboration with Frank Ocean or perhaps it's been re-jigged entirely by James Blake. Maybe Started From The Bottom is the solitary club-focused track, with everything else featuring introspective Drake. The far better Drake. The Drake we love.
But then there's names like ASAP Rocky, Future and Justin Timberlake in there. And we have every right to be concerned. Those names wreak of market research and press release dot points. History shows that forced creative partnerships don't always fit well with Drake's style (see: that disastrous Rihanna, Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie-XX collaboration from Take Care).
But there's hope. And by hope I mean Just Blaze.
Stats never lie. 99% of all teams to win the first game of Origin have gone on to win the series. 28% of Corey Parker's hair is now grey. 2/3 of the Walters Brothers agree that Carl Web was the most destructive Queensland forward in the history of the game. From this, we can safely assume that Queensland will be a lot tougher to beat up on their own turf. Johnathan Thurston will have given birth by then as well, thus won't be trying to pull off a devilish grubber without breaking his water. Chances are there could also be some radical advancements in Neck Replacement Therapy between now and then, making Brent Tate a far more mobile person of interest. Mal Meninga also might remember his half-time motivational speech. And there's an outside chance the referees will notice that Billy Slater is getting levelled on every single kick chase.
So don't fuck this up Drake/New South Wales. You've still got a long way to go. A genuine chance to make history, and your actions over the next few weeks/months will define how the future perceives you. The grapple tackles and tales of heartbreak are yours now. Come at us with your best.