Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Track Attack- "Marvin's Room"

The single-cover for "Marvin's Room."
The somber Drake song is the subject of this week's "Track Attack."

As I said in a previous "Track Attack," 2011 has been a banner year for painful self-disclosure, particularly in the Hip-hop/R&B community. While "Wake Me When It's Over," by The-Dream might be the strongest of the batch I mentioned, Drake's "Marvin Room," is appealing because it's self-destruction is all so avoidable, which is why it makes for a perfect "Track Attack," subject.

Being the king of "emo-rappers," for a while now, Drake has gotten very adept at churning-out emotional narratives that force you to feel sorry from him as he mines wells of self-loathing, doubt, and "Fear." That track in particular is a wonderful example of Drake's gift at telling emotional tales and is arguably his strong song to date.

While "Fear," sees Drake standing at the precipice of fame, staring longing into the void wondering what's waiting below, "Marvin's Room" puts Drizzy in the awkward position of balancing between his former life and the life of fame he now leads. Almost immediately in the song, Drake stumbles over the muted drum kicks interlaced with the twinkling piano and lurching synth. He places himself in the unenviable position of a man confronting a former flame while pitifully drunk.

"Marvin's Room"- Take Care (shortened version)

Drake paints a picture of a man who is drowning in a sea of alcohol. "Cups of the Rose, b**ches in my old phone, I should call one and go home, I've been in this club too long." In a simpler time, Drake would have been avoiding this sort of scene, knowing nothing good could come from it, but now he despondently embraces it. That club love doesn't pay off though and he is soon calling a former flame, who he admits is "happy with a good guy."

Drake leapfrogs right in to the insults, disparaging his old friend's new love with stunning ease. For only one moment in the song's hook he tempers the barbs, declaring "I know you still think about the times we had." Even this admission reeks of arrogance on Drake's part, screaming out "you can't move on without me."

The song's bridge offers little hope for Drake, as he tells the woman he's calling "I'm just saying you could do better, tell me have you heard that lately?" Whatever sentiment was underpinning those words is dashed by the idle threat from Drake, "I'll start hatin' only if you make me."

The second verse is more of the same, as Drake comes to the realization that the object of his affection doesn't "have time to kick it no more," at the parties he's attending. While he wallows in his sorrow, he wonders "what you doin' that's so important," hoping that whatever it is more pathetic than his own barhopping.

"Marvin's Room" (Chopped & Screwed)
This slowed down version isolates the lonelier moments even better than the original.

As the toxic hook and bridge turn-over and speed up, we are treated to a self-diagnosis from Drake. A moment of levity, in the midst of a brutal bender. "I think I'm addicted to naked pictures and sittin' talkin' 'bout b**ches that we almost had," he readily admits. He's realizing this lifestyle can't continue forever and for all the bravado he flashes, he's still the same guy who once rapped about "Fear." 

"I don't think I'm conscious of makin' monsters outta the women I sponsor til' it all goes bad." Though he would love to peg his former flame he is crying out to as one of those "monsters" he can't, as she has the decency to continue talking to him, even in the midst of all the bitterness. From there, Drake discusses a party he throws, and as they leave, things get even more real as he admits to "calling cause they were just leaving." Then, in the song's most open moment, Drake pleads "talk to me please, don't have much to believe in." The pleading continues as he asks "are you down to listen to me?"

"Marvin's Room"- Chris Brown
Brown's version is the one that comes closest thematically to the Drake offering.
However, the song does examine things from another perspective.

The question goes unanswered and we may find out why in the next lines, where Drake cops to women "living off him," and "having sex four times this week." The latter omission only becomes troubling when we realize that Drake let this happen because he's "havin' a hard time adjustin' to fame," that same love he feels for this former flame was nowhere to be found in those "four times," and he's regretting every second of it. In the verse's final moments, Drake admits to being lucky this woman even picked-up, as he now has "someone to put this weight on."

As downright lecherous as Drake is in this song, he still has some charm to him. We feel for him in some odd way because he is so self-disclosing. He confesses in the third verse that this is his own doing. Even as he berates this woman's good love, we root for him because he asks her when's the last time she's heard "you could do better." Despite his condescension, Drake still cares for her knowing she could do better, whether or not that has to be him is beside the point. Drake making all of this sound charming is certainly one great appeal to the song, but there's something else there as well. It's the way he embraces the bad decisions he makes while shunning them at the same time. When he first starts professing his iniquities in the third verse, he tempers them with "it's all good." Therein lies a large piece of "Marvin's Room's" greatness. We all make decisions, often knowing full-well nothing good is going to come from it. Instead of just owning up right away, we try to explain away our failings or couch our missteps in sincerity. When I hear this song, that's what I hear. I hear a man drinking the pain away with crippling thoughts swirling in his head. That "liquid courage," is the only thing that lets him live up to what he's done. And good or bad, he embraces everything shamelessly while regretting it all.

"Marvin's Room"- Take Care (full version)

No comments:

Post a Comment