I’m about to say something controversial:
Drake is rap’s Lindsey Buckingham.
I know what you’re thinking: Are you high right now? Did you fall down and smack your little head on the pavement? In what way are a 29-year-old Canadian rapper and 66-year-old guitar god anything alike?
There may be many singer-songwriter boys (John Mayer quickly comes to mind) who easily garner a Lindsey Buckingham comparison. We’ve thought of all of those before. But whenDrake’s cover of Jackson Browne’s “These Days” leaked last week, the internet exploded with comments about how oddly fitting it was. How cool! Who would have thought that a rappercould have so much in common with a classic rock artist?
Me. I thought it. I thought it awhile ago, actually. While his take on “These Days” works, Drake is no Jackson Browne. He may be soft, but he’s certainly edgier and moodier than that. All it takes is a listen to “Hotline Bling” and some deep thoughts to realize that the lyrics sound more in the vein of “Tusk” than “Rosie”. Because Drake is not rap’s Jackson Browne. Drake is rap’s Lindsey Buckingham.
Drake is not your typical rapper. He has a lot of feelings, he’s a sensitive guy, and he’s not afraid to emote in his lyrics. Because his lyrics tend to focus on relationships, rather than the prototypical struggles like street life, poverty, drugs, and violence, he’s been criticized as soft. But the rapper has pushed the envelope for the genre. He’s much more concerned with creating a unique sound than with fitting into some stereotype, and it works. He has awards, platinum records, and won-over critics to prove it.
Lindsey Buckingham is not your typical rock star. He is also a sensitive guy. His lyrics are also full of feels. They’re more reflective on failed relationships (let’s be real — a failed relationship) than they are boastful about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. He’s too hard to be a singer-songwriter like Jackson Browne, but he’s too soft to be a rock star like Robert Plant. He may get a little too on-the-nose on rare occasions (hello “Big Love” sex grunts, hello “Come”), but he’s never going to ask you to squeeze his lemon.
No, Lindsey Buckingham would much rather demonstrate his artistry and interest in pushing Fleetwood Mac to different levels. He’d much rather throw out passive aggressive lyrics that are part of one giant cyclical dialogue about his relationship with Stevie Nicks. It works. He’s the frontman for a legendary band and has accolades, top singles, and awards to prove it.
Soft boy of rap, meet soft boy of rock and roll.
The comparison really begins in 2013, when Drake released his highly anticipated third album, Nothing Was The Same. His sophomore album Take Care had been a huge hit, selling well over 2 million copies and producing eight charting singles. Drake had a choice: he could make Take Care 2, or he could push himself to evolve his minimalist, slow jam aesthetic. Sound familiar?
Buckingham faced a similar choice when producing Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk — also their third album (from the Buckingham Nicks incarnation of the band, that is), also the follow-up to a mega hit sophomore album. Make Rumours 2 or push the band to grow their art? We all know how that went down.
Drake’s “Tuscan Leather” draws out the similarities between the two. In a sense, it’s his “The Ledge”. It’s the first track on his new album, and an unconventional one, at that: six minutes with no hook, no chorus, nothing.
Though Fleetwood Mac opened Tusk with the deceptively Rumours-esque “Over & Over”, they quickly followed it with the shockingly off-brand “The Ledge”. It’s two minutes of noise, no real hook, aggressive whispers and shouts. It sounds like the combination of three or four different tapes layered on top of each other and then run over by a truck. “Hi, we’re Fleetwood Mac, and this is what we’re going to be doing now,” it seems to scream, with middle fingers raised to any radio or studio exec.
Drake knew what they knew. Drake did the same thing:
Comin’ off the last record, I’m gettin’ 20 million off the record
Just to off these records, n—a that’s a record
I’m livin’ like I’m out here on my last adventure
Past the present when you have to mention
This is nothin’ for the radio, but they’ll still play it though
Cause it’s that new Drizzy Drake, that’s just the way it go
Heavy airplay all day with no chorus
Acknowledge the past success, then say “fuck you” and drop an unconventional songbecause you can. Because you’re Drake or you’re Fleetwood Mac and you’re huge stars, and at that point, the radio would probably play a six minute cut of you reading the phone book.“On a mission tryna shift the culture,” Drake sings. Which is basically what Lindsey Buckingham was trying to do with Fleetwood Mac and Tusk: “I was really interested in exploring a farther left side of my music palate at that time but avoiding getting painted into a corner by the business side of things. […] I was trying to pave some new territory for us, but another way of looking at it is that I was causing trouble.”
“Tuscan Leather”, like many of Drake’s songs, is more self-reflective and confessional than Lindsey Buckingham’s work. However, we learn more about the similarities between the two, personality-wise:
Cause you don’t really wanna hear me vent more
Hot temper, scary outcome
[…] Born a perfectionist, guess that makes me a bit obsessive
Both of the men have rage issues, and they’re the first to own up to most of them. Drake’s in a never-ending feud with Meek Mill; he’s gotten into fist fights with artists like Diddy. Buckingham’s past temper problems have ranged from allegedly choking his co-producer tothat time he threw a guitar at Stevie Nicks. Like Drake, he’s a noted perfectionist, particularly when recording, often holing up in studios for years at a time, obsessed with capturing the exact right sound. The only difference between the two is that Drake is more willing to be honest and admit his faults in his lyrics, whereas Buckingham comes clean in interviews, sometimes years later.
But more substantial than their similar personalities is how they both explore similar themes in their work. Most often, they ruminate on jealousy and resentment that comes with love, particularly failed relationships. It comes out in the form of insecurities, boasts, and passive-aggressive insults towards their exes in song.
They love women — they worship them, they would do anything for them — but if you leave them, there’s a different story to be told. Buckingham has become gentler and more introspective in his work in recent years, but the relationship between the two men play out best when you compare Drake’s recent work to Buckingham’s lyrics from around the same age; his songs on Rumours and Tusk are prime examples.
“Connect” is Drake’s “Go Your Own Way”. Both are about a toxic relationship, one that the man wishes to pursue, despite rejection from the woman:
Isn’t it amazing how you talk all this shit and we still lack communication
How beautiful our kids would be, girl, I don’t need convincing
How every conversation starts with “this time will be different”
Drake just described Buckingham Nicks circa 1976, or even now, really — the two are still dealing with forty-plus years of communication issues. Over all these years, their lyrics have held all of the things they wanted to say to each other — they talk all this shit — without actually saying it to the other person. They’re public airings of grievances. Then again, their relationship has never been anything short of tumultuous, so much on-again/off-again — that you can imagine each of those ‘70s re-couplings starting with a shared thought of “maybe this time it will be different.”
Drake is unafraid of professing his love and desire to have something real and deep with his ex. He talks about having children with her, whereas Buckingham professes in “Go Your Own Way” that he’d give Nicks the world. But because their exes don’t want a part of it, they both feel the need to lash out. Drake pouts “she just wanna run around the city and make memories that she can barely remember […] she just wanna run over my feelings like she drinking and driving in an 18-wheeler,” while Buckingham sneers “packing up, shacking up’s all you wanna do.”
At the end of the day though, both men still desperately want to hold onto the relationship, despite the fact that it might be doomed:
In “Shot For Me”, Drake demonstrates his Buckingham-like ability to flit back and forth between being sensitive and being egotistical. It pulls in elements of “Second Hand News” and “I Know I’m Not Wrong”, from regret and guilt, to vengeful boasting.
Like “Second Hand News”, Drake can see his ex has moved on. But both men pull the arrogant, self-important card — you may think you have moved on, but you haven’t. You know I am the better lover, and when this rebound goes sour, you’ll come right back to me:
At the same time, both men feel the complicated twinge of genuine remorse for the pain they’re putting their exes through. Buckingham has spoken at length of the difficulty of dealing with a breakup when you have to see that person every single day, particularly when you’re producing songs that person is writing about you. Part of you doesn’t want to make it beautiful, part of you wants to be professional and do the best thing for the band, and another part of you has to learn to compartmentalize those feelings to get through it all. That makes moving on pretty hard.
Nicks has said many times that Buckingham partly blames joining Fleetwood Mac for the end of their relationship — had they not joined, they probably would have gotten married and had a family. On “I Know I’m Not Wrong”, he tries to deal with these feelings by pushing the guilt off his conscience and onto his ex — why are you upset when this is what you wanted, right? Both men regret that after everything they’ve been through with their ex, especially now that they have made it, that they’ve achieved the dreams they once dreamed together, they have everything but the relationship they had at the beginning:
The similarities between the two artists are at their peak in Drake’s “Marvins Room” and “Hotline Bling”. Both are accusatory and pompous, in the vein of Buckingham’s “Tusk”. The former sounds like a drunk call Buckingham easily could have made to Stevie Nicks circa 1978, bashing Don Henley — “I’m just saying, you could do better. Tell me, have you heard that lately? I’m just saying you could do better, and I’ll stop hating only if you make me.”
If you look at these Buckingham-penned lyrics, they too could be a drunk dial, one that fits right in with “Tusk” just as easily as they could fit somewhere in “Marvins Room” or even “Hotline Bling”.
Why don’t you ask him if he’s going to stay?
Why don’t you ask him if he’s going away?
Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?
Why don’t you tell me who’s on the phone?
Why don’t you ask him what’s going on?
Why don’t you ask him who’s the latest on his throne?
Aside from being similar in attitude to “Tusk”, “Hotline Bling” is a song that, if you look more closely at the lyrics, sounds like something that could have been written by Buckingham as another scornful track on Rumours. If cell phones were around in 1977, that is. It takes elements of “Go Your Own Way” — “You used to call me on my cell phone, late night when you need my love” was 2015’s “Packing up, shacking up’s all you wanna do” — and expands on them.
The Buckingham Nicks split was messy and filled with jealousy on both ends — Nicks’s rebound with Don Henley was far from on the down-low. Maybe Buckingham looked at acts like Henley delivering lavish gifts to her at band breakfasts as out of character for her. Maybe he felt like Drake — ever since they broke up, particularly since they became huge stars, she’s been acting differently, and he feels left out.
If you need further convincing that “Hotline Bling” is actually pretty classic Fleetwood Mac, watch this video that came out of the explosion of memes in the wake of its release:
Meme culture fascinates me, and this twist on the genre is just as thought-provoking to me as it is funny. It makes it kind of look like a legitimate possibility, right? You can imagine how the sexual tension, anger, and passive aggression would play out if they covered it in real life — even if it was Nicks leading the song and flipping the roles.
When everyone from Sufjan Stevens to Jimmy Fallon as Bob Dylan to Bryan Cranstonjumped on the trend and served up their own covers, Fleetwood Mac seriously missed a big opportunity. People love unexpected covers. People especially love old people covering young people music.
New talent will always be mirroring the greats. That’s just the way that it works. Drake’s been influenced by Kanye West, Jay-Z, and his mentor Lil Wayne — and that makes sense. But what if we stopped to think that maybe, just maybe, he listened to Tusk at some point and thought “Hm, I think I could do that”?
So if we could maybe please get a Drake – Fleetwood Mac cover or a Fleetwood Mac – Drake cover or maybe some sort of collaboration soon, that’d be great, thanks. Until then, I guess I’ll just watch Hotline Wonders on repeat.
Listen to a playlist to truly reap the side-by-side comparisons (including tracks from Views): http://spoti.fi/1qhIw3Z