I like Drake more than I dislike Drake. Sure, he raps about lovey dovey shit but I think that makes him multifaceted. He got his start literally by playing a rapper on TV, but who are we to judge where talent comes from? Plus, let’s be honest, he is fine as hell.
But as catchy as “Hotline Bling” is, and as meme-able the video has become, I have a really hard time enjoying it because of one specific verse. The song is basically about how this girl used to booty call him before he moved away (You used to call me on my cell phone/late night when you need my love/And I know when that hotline bling/that can only mean one thing), but now she has a different life (Running out of pages in your passport/hanging with some girls I’ve never seen before). Then:
You don’t need nobody else, no
Why you never alone
Why you always touching road
Used to always stay at home, be a good girl
Is this a real question? Show of hands, which sounds more fun: traveling the world, or staying at home alone and booty-calling Drake?
OK, given the “fine as hell,” maybe I should rephrase. Why is there the expectation that he can go out to clubs and perform, and party, and whatever, but if she does those things then she’s no longer a “good girl?”
Maybe I’m looking too much into rap songs, but this “good girl” trope keeps appearing and I don’t understand what it means. Drake talked about it previously in “Hold On (We’re Going Home)” but in a much more vague way (every time I heard that song, I thought, “What the hell does that even mean?”). However, this time he gets specific: The activities described in the song that have made him question her good girl status include 1) leaving the house 2) hanging out with girls he hasn’t seen before.
Those sound like pretty normal, healthy activities to me. In fact, not wanting your girlfriend to do those things seems borderline abusive.
Plus, the term “good girl” evokes memories of earning gold stars in elementary school, implying that Drake is more of an authority on the world than her pretty little head needs to concern herself with. And given what he’s singing, he wants to keep it that way. This song is supposedly about Drake’s ex-girlfriend Nebby, and having your ex imply that you’re “going places that you don’t belong” and “you’re someone else” is just bullshit.
News flash: your ex is no longer subject to what you want them to do. People change, and grow, and if you weren’t there for it, don’t act like you will always know who they “really are.” It doesn’t mean they are no longer “good.” You remember when he sang, “She says she missed the old Drake/girl don’t tempt me?” That doesn’t just apply to you, dude.
But seriously, what make someone a good girl? Staying out of prison? Not cheating on your man? I think those could be valid indicators. But following restrictive rules her (ex)boyfriend has set? Staying home all the time, not making new friends and waiting for your boyfriend just means you’re boring. Good girls can have fun at the club too (just ask Beyoncé), good girls can travel the world and not cheat on you, good girls can have an independent life and still love you. While it is definitely a girlfriend’s position to be there for her partner, that is not meant in the literal, 24-hour-servant sense.
Another question I have: Is a “bad girl” (or “bad bitch”) the opposite of a “good girl?” If we’re sticking with Drake’s exes, his adventures with @badgalriri implies good girls aren’t all he’s into. To look outside Drake, Kanye’s “30 showers” comment implies that his ex-stripper girlfriend Amber Rose was a bad girl while his wife Kim Kardashian—whose naked body in Playboy arguably reached more eyes and who is literally famous because of a sex tape—is a good girl.
It’s pretty easy to discern the primary characteristic of a “bad girl:” someone who doesn’t give a fuck (which, ironically, is viewed as a pretty positive characteristic). But there’s no implication that a bad girl cheats on you, or abuses you, or anything of that nature. In fact, bad girls seem to be characterized as self-aware* and fun. It really just seems to be a question of obedience: good girls follow the rules, bad girls don’t. Or maybe good girls want to please you, bad girls want to please themselves.
I guess most of my problem is that these lyrics are coming out of Drake’s mouth. I expect shit like this from people who rap about hos all the time. But Drake? Drake, who included a voicemail from his grandmother on a song? Who sang, “I’m so proud of you,” who sang “I’ve asked about you and they told me things/But my mind didn’t change,” who sang, “Baby you’re my everything, you’re all I ever wanted.” If he’s not afraid for his girl to do big things, to have a past, and to admit that he’s in love, why is he so behind in his thinking that good girls don’t leave the house?
The truth is, which I would hope everyone knows by now, there is no such thing as a “good girl” and a “bad girl”—supposedly good people do bad things all the time, and people we generally think of as pure evil have redeeming qualities as well. It’s especially reductive to say that a girl is good or bad based on her reaction to doing what her (ex)boyfriend wants. And sure, maybe I’m reading too much into one paragraph in a stupid rap song. But when the song is #2 in the country, Drake is seen as a nice guy, and given that it’s Domestic Violence Awareness month, maybe we should be careful of the messages we send.
*(If you like the Rihanna version of that song better, you are wrong.)
I wrote this article before Fusion’s more in-depth version, which is also worth a read.