Drake Is Better After A Good Screw

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Hip-hop’s current golden boy, Aubrey “Drake” Graham, has a long-standing fascination with Houston rap. While his oft-sung style and you-can’t-possibly-understand-my-sadness subject matter has little to do with the land of swangin' and bangin', he nonetheless states his affinity for H-Town at every opportunity

Drizzy has even adopted some of the stylistic trappings of the genre, having his albums remixed in the slowed-down “chopped and screwed” style pioneered by the late Robert “DJ Screw” Davis, Jr. Both Thank Me Later and Take Care have been “chopped up not slopped up” (his preferred appellation) by Ronald “OG Ron C” Coleman, the co-founder of Houston’s influential Swishahouse Records and a prodigious re-mixer

While the idea of hearing a slowed-down version of an already-languid album like Take Care might sound like even less fun than trying to collect a royalty check from Birdman, listening to Ron C’s take on the record reveals something very surprising: slowing Drake’s music down makes it a hell of a lot better

The near-constant ballad-like tempos and drum-less breakdown sections of the record can be a little, well, boring in real time. Drake’s voice often seems whiny and his subject matter and tone can be off-putting. His famous-but-depressed and I’m-heartbroken-over-a-stripper schticks can be repetitive and alienating. His rapping is sometimes awkward. Luckily, Ron C ameliorates most of these problems with his superb re-mixes

Take “Cameras.” The original song is a bit of a slog, with its standard “thought you knew about the team” brags and draggy, too-mellow beat. The central conceit, Drake reassuring his lady friend that his relationships with starlets are staged and only exist in the press, is interesting in theory, but he doesn’t sound invested enough in it

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zsYD7MLsgM

The Ron C remix, though, solves most of these problems. Music that was originally just boring becomes hypnotic and sad. Drizzy’s boredom turns into something a lot more interesting — a world-weary, low-pitched warning. Ron’s scratches and occasional repeated words and phrases make the lyrics sound more important and convincing than normal, and improves Drake’s sometimes less-than-stellar phrasing. Check out what he does with the “I see behind the scenes” section, starting at 3:20. Repeating the lyric a few times lends it a thematic weight that is absent from the original record:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vHd2ij0Zx8#t=3m20s

This kind of thing happens a surprising amount on Chop Care. Applying c&s techniques to the record turns many of the record’s minuses into pluses, and doesn’t take away any of its strengths — its consistent melancholic mood, its often-strong melodic content, its confessional vibe

Maybe next time, Aubrey should just dispense with a normal album release altogether and just release Ron C’s version. That way, he could continue putting ice in his muddy water to his heart’s content and rep H-Town even more. We’re sure Uncle Chad would look down and smile