One happy consequence of living on a farm is that I’m a little less connected to pop culture. So I only recently got around to listening to Drake’s pervasive single, “Hotline Bling.” The song is undoubtedly catchy (although this is mostly due to the samples of D.R.A.M.’s “Cha Cha” which is really good and you should check out).
But once I finished doing my own little Drake dance and actually listened to the lyrics I began to wonder if the song was a parody. The feelings Drake describes are so unhealthy and his demands so emotionally hurtful they border on abuse.
For those of you who have somehow managed to avoid hearing the song, Drake’s ballad is sung to a former fling. I say “fling” because the relationship is never clearly defined. We only know that she used to bend over backwards for Drake, that Drake taught her “nasty” things, and that she called Drake often when she felt emotionally needy. This arrangement changed, however, when Drake left the city. Now the girl doesn’t call him as often and goes out to events with new friends. Drake despises this new arrangement and tells her she ought to stay home and call him more often. He never says he wants to cultivate a healthy relationship with this girl. He just wants her to remain dependent on him. So he attempts to make her feel guilty for having a healthy social life, whining the now infamous phrase, “You used to call me on my cellphone, late night when you need my love.”
We might be tempted here to dismiss Drake as a jerk with absurd expectations. And while Drake’s lyrics fit that description, his emotions must stem from somewhere. What could cause a person to feel this? Why would he want something so obviously unhealthy for everyone involved? Fortunately for Drake, someone can answer this question!
St. Augustine may not still have street cred with the Canadian hip-hop scene but he knows a thing or two about human nature and the root of our bad desires.
Augustine teaches that even our sinful desires are not wholly evil. Instead, they are corrupted forms of good desires. For instance, we were made to enjoy food and drink. It’s good to feast! But when that desire becomes exaggerated it turns into something sinful: gluttony. Similarly, it’s good to recognize good qualities in another person. But when we admire those qualities in a bad way, we can become envious.
Drake’s desire to “possess” all the affections of a woman is actually a twisted and corrupted form of a good desire. We were made to love and be desired. Our very existence is proof that God desires us. He created each of us because he delights in our very being. But we’ve rejected this affection since the fall. We were meant, like Adam and Eve, to stand naked before God, to hide nothing, to fully experience his love and favor. But, after Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God and tried to cover their physical and spiritual nakedness. And so do we. We refuse God’s affections and hide in various ways. We ignore our Creator and even pretend he doesn’t exist.
But, being made for God, we suffer and waste away without His love. So we turn instead to others, hoping their affections can satisfy our deep need. This is what we do when we seek fame or even just extra attention at a party. This is why people are often not satisfied with their significant others. And this is why Drake demands the exclusive attention of a girl he doesn’t even want to be with.
But poor Drake will be disappointed. Even if this girl DOES call him on his cellphone more and goes out less, it won’t be enough. Even if he possessed the affections of all the lovely girls in his music video, it wouldn’t be enough. Because we were made for God. We are his creatures and we can only experience true peace and happiness when we surrender to him and let ourselves be intimately known and loved by him. That can only mean one thing…