It’s no secret that Drake loves Houston. A banger from So Far Gone called November 18th, which samples DJ Screw (who sampled Kriss Kross), is one small but beautiful example of said love. Since that track, there have been countless shouts out and confessions of undying devotion to Houston.
Remember when Drake hosted Houston Appreciation Week and had us lining up for volunteer work in order to get free tickets to one of his concerts? He didn’t just give the city some shows, he made Houston people help other Houston people! That’s like when your mom would give you money for making good grades.
But because Drake can’t be hosting appreciation weeks all the time, he keeps Houston on the line by including a consistent stream of references to the city in his songs. In 2013, Houston Press counted six smooth references to The H on Nothing Was the Same. Six–as in Satan’s and Drake’s favorite number.
That was three years ago, though, and since then, Aubrey’s fame has reached profane heights, with every one of his albums achieving platinum status. Coincidentally, Houston’s popularity, nationally and internationally, has also exploded. All of hip-hop is showing love to the music and the music culture bred here, which includes the wide-ranging likes of DJ Screw, UGK, Travis Scott, Paul Wall, grills and (perhaps most unfortunately) lean.
It’s debatable whether the famed owl enthusiast is responsible for the long overdue reverence Houston rappers and Houston rap culture have seen in the last few years, but his influence is undeniable. The OVO Jordans he’s responsible for resell for upwards of $1,000. The world is obsessed with the things Drake likes, and, for the last seven years, he has been obsessed with us.
There’s an interesting back story to why he loves our city so much, and it goes like this: J. Prince, Jr., the son of the CEO of Houston-based Rap-A-Lot Records, is responsible for introducing Drake to Lil Wayne and ultimately getting him signed to Young Money. He spoke to Fader about it last June. Prince is even suing Young Money for what he says he’s owed for discovering Mr. Graham, just one of the many suits currently waged against the Birdman.
So, seven years and four platinum albums later, how much respek is Drake putting on Houston in Views From the 6? Both none and the most possible. While there is not one mention of Houston, H-Town, The H, or any other nickname we claim, there is a spooky, from the grave, feature from the high priest of Houston rap, Mr. Sweet Jones himself, Pimp C.
The feature from the late UGK bandmate isn’t a novel idea. Kendrick sailed that ship right past Graham in Blow My High (2011), which sampled Pimp C’s Big Pimpin verse. In fact, in the last five or so years, publicly paying homage to Houston legends like UGK and DJ Screw has evolved from a mark of credibility into a thirsty reach for approval.
As Paul Wall put it in a recent interview “We ain’t talking about give Pimp C a shout out because you want us to give you that cosign. Oh I’ma say Pimp C name and then they gone fuck with me. […]When the rappers come to town, they wanna give these bull shit rest in peace […]shout outs. Man come on, where them shout outs was at when you were on the award show holding a double cup?”
The shout outs, for Drake at least, remain in the actions and not just the words. Even as double cup love fatigue has begun its decent into the hearts of hip-hop fans stateside, Aubrey stayed true to the city, the music and the culture.
One could say his love has proven unconditional. And, finally, with the Pimp C feature on Faithful , Drake has proposed marriage. I think I speak for us all when I say: Yes, Drake. We will marry you.
Stay hot, Houston.