There’s an unwritten rule when it comes to invoking the name of the Supreme Being: if you’re gonna put “God” in the title of one of your songs, you’d better not do it in vain.
Maybe Drake had that in mind when he was devising the marketing plan for his latest single, “God’s Plan,” the tune that hit the streets about a month ago and has been Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 ever since.
The song debuted at the top spot giving Drake his fourth #1 (remarkably only his second as a lead artist). It marked the end of a six-month chart drought for the rapper who before August 2017 had been on the flagship list every week since May 2010, easily a Billboard singles chart record.
But more important than his chart success is what the Toronto rapper had apparently been up to since he released the “God’s Plan” single: and that was filming its emotional video – one that documents his recent good-deed, philanthropic tour through the city of Miami, a several-week romp in which he gave away the equivalent of the video’s nearly $1M production budget to unsuspecting, but very grateful citizens and students whose jubilant reactions are priceless – and clearly genuine.
There were hints that the “Hotline Bling” rapper was up to something good when various tweets and Instagram posts surfaced chronicling Drake’s recent benevolent acts, including a donation to Miami Senior High School, a $50K college scholarship to a financially struggling student at University of Miami, an all-paid grocery store shopping spree (for everyone inside), a mall appearance (with yet another shopping spree for an unsuspecting lucky woman), a wad of cash here, a new car there…and other very generous acts over the past several weeks.
The unwitting beneficiaries likely didn’t know that they were all gonna be part of the “God’s Plan” video, which hit YouTube early on Friday, February 16 and has had social media emotionally abuzz ever since. Reaction videos have even popped up on YouTube, with views already in the tens of thousands for some of them. Apparently people like seeing other people’s reactions to watching superstar music videos – it’s a thing in the 2010s.
But let’s not forget that Drake does still have his haters. After all, it was just two years ago when the Canadian rapper was fending off ghost-writer allegations and beefing with fellow rapper Meek Mill. He was even tagged – unfairly, I might add – as a bad-luck omen for any sports entity in which he had rooting interests (Serena Williams, Toronto Raptors were prominent examples).
So, naturally, his doubters are questioning whether all of this philanthropy was real or fake? And if it was real, was it merely a self-aggrandizing publicity stunt for the hip-hop superstar who is, after all, just another rapper with a new album on the horizon that needs marketing.
Or worse, maybe Drake now has a God complex, like so many surgeons after they’ve saved a life or two. Just like those doctors, Drake certainly has the means to turn a wayward life around and even has the added bonus of throngs of people cheering his name as the “God’s Plan” video attests.
Admittedly, even I’ve consider Drake’s many feats dubious at times. For instance, he holds the record for having more chart hits – 151 of them – on the Hot 100 than any other solo artist in the chart’s 60-year history, rap or otherwise. But many of his entries have been as a featured artist or the result of the initial blast from an album release in which all songs are immediately eligible to chart – unlike the more limiting rules that applied to other artists under past Billboard chart policy.
And then there’s the ongoing question of where he stands artistically. His critics have made a case that he hasn’t shown any real musical or lyrical growth in the last few years of his career, with even “God’s Plan” touching on the same paranoid “I know they’re out to get me” themes that many of his last few albums have.
But the “God’s Plan” video will be hard for anyone – rapper or otherwise – to top, either this year or any time in the near future. It may very well be Drizzy’s crowning achievement. He’s gone on record to say it’s “the most important thing he’s ever done in (his) career.”
What’s more, Drake seemed genuinely happy in the video “giving back” to the community – even if it wasn’t his own ‘hood that benefited.
At a time when the country is deeply divided about polarizing topics like politics, race, immigration, and the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC, it’s nice when something comes along that truly has a positive impact on people’s lives.
In this case, that positive thing was Drake, who certainly didn’t have to play Santa Claus in February to dozens of people whose lives were clearly changed for the better.
But he did. And whatever we may think of his music, or where he stands in the overall pantheon of hip-hop artists, there aren’t many who can claim to have done what he just pulled off.
But then any song bearing the title “God’s Plan” better had lived up to the title. And since the song’s lyrics fell short – the video had to pick up the slack, which I’d contend it did successfully.
Oh, and with all those YouTube clicks counting towards its chart points, you can forget about “God’s Plan” relinquishing that No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 anytime soon.
Here’s the video…
Nice job, Drake! Whatever your motives were, we kinda needed that.