Drake debuted as a musical artist in 2007 with the single ‘Replacement Girl’ which gained little attention. It wasn’t until his 2009 EP So Far Gone that he started to gain attention, and the next year his debut album peaked at no. 1 on The Billboard Top 200. However, plenty of people know him today not as the musical artist, but as the face of numerous internet memes.

Plenty of people know him today not as the musical artist, but as the face of numerous internet memes.

A friend of mine is a die-hard Drake fan. She doesn’t call herself that because of his music, entirely. Of course, she listens to his albums on the day they release, keeps track of his features, and so on. But the thing that really endeared him to her, she says, was the “Drake the type of guy” meme. Specifically, the video in which he directly references that meme, saying “Drake the type of guy to say Jeez Louise”. 

The softening of the persona of Drake, the borderline feminising of his image, is likely something that you are aware of. His status as a popular rapper contrasted against his apparently more feminine mannerisms is likely the root of many of these memes, but also just his much more goofy public persona – something other current popular rappers, such as Kanye West or J. Cole, don’t indulge in. But it wasn’t until recently that Drake really started to lean into this persona.

The oldest Drake meme is likely a pair of screencaps from the Hotline Bling music video, which was published on YouTube eight years ago. The screencaps depict Drake turning away in apparent disgust in one, and him happily pointing in another, symbolising that he dislikes one thing and not the other, respectively. However, the format does not rely on Drake as a personality but rather conveys its simple meaning. The man in the image could be anyone. The fact it is an unmoving image also reflects the image-based nature of the internet at the time. 

A widely spread Drake meme revolves around the idea that his goofiness is cartoonishly extreme, or overwhelmingly predictable. For example, “Drake the type of guy to start floating when he smells a pie” or “Drake the type of guy to say errrrmm that just happened”. However, the perceived harmlessness of the rapper does ultimately benefit him, which may be why he doesn’t seem to mind not having the same tough guy persona as, for example, 21 Savage. This is likely because actions which people could condemn Drake for aren’t seen as tough, for example, his borderline inappropriate relationship with then-minor Millie Bobby Brown, which people seem to have forgotten about. 

The perceived harmlessness of the rapper does ultimately benefit him.

It’s not until recently that Drake himself has been the meme. Most recently, there has been a clip from one of his Twitch streams circulating online of him introducing his alter ego “Anita Max Wynn” which, he explains, sounds like gambling term “I need a max win”. This meme, unlike the previous two, is usually not captioned with anything other than a description of what is going on in the clip. This female persona is what really caught people’s attention. It seems to contrast with some of his classically misogynistic lyrics, like “F*ck that b*tch”, and is just the most recent example in a slew of Drake’s self-memeification.

Actions which people could condemn Drake for aren’t seen as tough.

Before Anita, Drake already had feminine aspects to him like his lyrics in ‘Rich Flex’ where he appears to be a kind of yes-man for 21 Savage, the other rapper on the track. His lyric “21, can you do some’ for me? … Can you talk to the opps next for me?” seem almost submissive to the other artist. Drake is seen as the gentler artist here, with his musical persona merging with his general one. The final evolution of Drake’s public persona may well be Anita Max Wynn, but the final merge would really be her on a track, right?

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