Though “Started From The Bottom”, the newest from Drake, was initially supposed to be premiered on Grammy night, that was apparently too long of a wait for the eternally pensive rapper/ singer who lit up the Internetz late last evening with an early self-leaking of the first sampling of his upcoming third studio effort, accompanied by a letter in which he gets on the defensive (in that kind-hearted, Drake type of way) about all the jokes being made of his (presumed) less-than-typical rap star come-up as a well-off teen soap actor.
Of course this being an era when any and everyone with a computer and/ or smartphone thinks they are the “best ever” comedian, you could easily guess the many “LOL” responses generated from that message and the song’s title alone. After hearing the song, things will likely only get worse for the emcee.
“SFTB” keeps in line with “Over” and “Headlines” as yet another weird choice for an album lead single; like those tracks, there’s little obvious radio flash here, even if the repetitiousness of the awkwardly Southern-inflected cadence of the verses and the “Started from the bottom, now we’re here” hook and producer Mike Zombie‘s moody, daydream-y taps n’ tinkles read as vaguely catchy.
But that theme.
While it’s not necessarily weird unto itself to have a rapper cycling back in focus to his pre-fame days a couple or more albums in, or that Drake would handle it like another intimate page out of his diary, there is an unsettling half-finished clunkiness about “Bottom” that makes the whole things never quite sit comfortably. Smashing up intimidation-lite demands for respect up against brief two-line snapshots of old teen-Drake memories that strain to project “struggle” smashed up against singing turns that push a proud, “lonely at the top” broodiness, Drake is saying a lot to say so little here, the lacking of his usual fleshed-out lyrical finesse leaving behind the feeling of a last minute decision to stretch what could have been a pretty decent interlude into an underwhelming full length track simply to spark up a new era narrative.
“Started” might come across a bit better in the context of the new album (hopefully), but following a year that saw Drake getting all kinds of attention for his celebrity spats and that whole “posthumous Aaliyah track” mess, surely he could have kicked the new project off with a topic a little more new single event-worthy than the one he’s chosen here.
Check out the track below, followed by a remix (already!!) featuring Wiz Khalifa: