Marshmallow soft

Sometime between the second and third hour of wandering through Granada after dark, I realized it was time to be honest with myself. No more lies, no more shame. Here goes: I’m a fan of Drake. I’m a Drake fan.

I hope you accept me for who I am. I understand if you need a minute. Culture seems to be moving faster and faster these days; it feels like yesterday that just the idea of a rapper being from Canada was far-fetched. I can understand that for Gen-Xers it must be shocking to see us kids mixing gentle crooning with corny rapping like it’s just a normal thing to do.

Alas. Millennials. We are who we are.

I think I figured out why corny-ass, emo-ass, marshmallow-soft Aubrey Drake is an inspiring character to us.

See, for the past week, I’ve been traveling on my own, and when you’re by yourself in a new city you think a lot about vulnerability. You fumble through a conversation with a bus driver in a foreign language, or you eat dinner by yourself in a crowded restaurant, or you approach a group of strangers chatting at the bar. At any given moment you are wagering your physical or emotional comfort. Your dignity is constantly in danger.

A foreign city is the opposite of a safe space.

What I’ve come to learn is that the way we respond to vulnerability dictates whether others see us as confident and charismatic, or shy and awkward. As personal development coach Mark Manson explains in Models, we exude confidence when how we see ourselves is more important than how others might see us. When our self-perception is stronger than anybody’s else’s perception of us, we can be comfortable while being vulnerable. We don’t feel the need to hide our accents or pretend we are perfect. Our rough edges not only define us, they are what attract others to us.

This is the key to understanding Drake. After all the goofy dancing and embarrassing confessions, what shines through is a startling emotional authenticity and lack of neediness. Go ahead, call him uncool. Turn him into a meme. He really doesn’t mind. He knows who he is. He likes that person.

In the 90s, rap was defined by its aggression.
In the 00s, rap was defined by its bravado.
In the 10s, rap is being defined by a different sort of strength – a deeper, truer, more lasting sort of strength. Drake is defining contemporary rap with his vulnerability.

I enter my favorite bar in Granada and see a bunch of new faces. Locals and expats, chatting and laughing in little groups. Here I am by myself. Then I remember Drake and his dorky sweater. I walk up to a group of strangers and introduce myself. We have a great night.