After Crediting R. Kelly on New Track, Conversation Continues on Drake’s Alleged Trend of Befriending Underage Girls
Even if you don’t listen to Drake, you probably have heard something about his Sept. 3, 2021 album release Certified Lover Boy. Some are discussing the iOS emoji album art created by famous stunt artist Damien Hirst, and others are discussing the current beef with fellow problematic (to put it lightly) rapper Kanye West. In addition to this, resurfaced allegations about Drake’s “friendships” with underage girls are making the rounds on social media.
Remember when we found out that Drake was grooming kids and then we all stopped talking about it bc it was ruining the vibe
— nylah burton (@yumcoconutmilk) September 3, 2021
sorry but drake singing “daddy’s home” with all the grooming allegations is just pic.twitter.com/74AT2lBQcL
— DONDAlab (@KarlMaalab) September 3, 2021
no i just can’t not think about drake grooming millie https://t.co/chx9gCA93w
— ur cancer gf (@lilhoneybri) September 8, 2021
The allegations of inappropriate interactions between the Canadian-born rapper and various underage girls has been an issue for years. The larger list of girls (some now women) includes some well-known names like Billie Eilish and Jorja Smith. However, three in particular seemingly come with the most red flags: Millie Bobby Brown, Bella Harris, and an unnamed girl at a concert in 2010.
After sexually teasing a girl on stage at a concert in Colorado in 2010 (as demonstrated in a resurfaced video), Drake then asks her how old she is. When the girl replies that she’s 17, he immediately backs up and jokes about not being ready for jail. In his reply, he also puts the blame on her by talking about her body rather than his actions. Despite these poor jokes and attempts to redirect the conversation, he goes back to line-crossing as he tells her, “Well listen 17, I had fun and I don’t know if I should feel guilty or not, but I had fun. I like the way you breast feels against my chest.” The rest is muffled out because the crowd is cheering.
He ends his gross goodbye by kissing her four times (hands, cheeks, and forehead) and then ends on her lips. Everything before knowing her age could have been a just gross mistake, but not everything after. At the time, he was about 23 and being deliberate in his action to continue to talk about her body and kiss her lips.
“When he replies that she’s 17, he cracks, “I can’t go to jail yet, man! Why do you look like that?””
Context for those trying to understand Drake’s history of alleged grooming of underage girls. https://t.co/OFlwmk7y1H
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) September 3, 2021
Fast forward a few years to the late 2010s, when multiple images show Drake (then 29) posing in photos with model Bella Harris (then 15.)
y’all just gonna ignore stuff like this until the lawsuit and documentary come out https://t.co/wRik0QJqmS
— ✰ (@imanikhadijahh) September 6, 2021
These photos from 2016 alone aren’t what caused the alarm. With Harris being a model for Fenty-Puma as early as 2016 and her father being a major R&B producer and Grammy chair (Jimmy Jan), it isn’t surprising that she interacted with Drake and would be a fan. It was more of the flurry of more intimate photos of them both that she posted in the 3–4 months after turning 18 that caused the most upset.
Rumors quickly turned to “they are dating” four months after her 18th birthday. This came from photos and reports that Drake and Harris ate dinner together at an emptied D.C. restaurant. There are some conflicting reports saying he emptied it for her or that they waited until everyone left, but regardless, it happened. Since that dating rumor, many of the photos were deleted from Harris’ Instagram.
Harris and Drake denied they were dating, but regardless of whether that is true or not, it doesn’t change the fact that this was too far. She is an adult, but she wasn’t in the years leading up to that dinner, while Drake was a decade older that whole time.
The conversation around Drake’s behavior was first discovered by many when Millie Bobby Brown (then 15) revealed in 2018 that she and Drake text each other. She said that Drake gives her boy advice, but it wasn’t anything she could share on TV.
While this was just Millie speaking to their friendship, Drake gifted her merch leading up to his 2018 album and has been photographed with her before that Access interview. When people discussed the strangeness of their behavior and how it was not okay for him to be friends with an underage girl like that, Brown took to her Instagram stories to defend their friendship.
Many of the young and underage women (Eilish, Brown, etc.) that people have accused Drake of grooming have all said he is the nicest guy and is a mentor-like figure giving advice. To quote Clarkisha Kent in her 2019 WearYourVoice Magazine essay, “But Drake should not be ‘mentoring’ anyone or even leading this conversation based on what we know about his pattern of behavior.”
If you read what Millie Bobby Brown and #BillieEilish say about #Drake texting them and strip away the context of fame, he just sounds like a creepy older dude telling under age girls how much he cares for them.
He just gets a pass because he’s famous.
— Stacey Henley (@FiveTacey) November 30, 2019
The belief that Drake is befriending girls and waiting until they turn 18 to make a more public move has gotten to the point that lyrics supposedly removed from “N 2 Deep” featuring Future, from Certified Lover Boy, have been making the rounds on social media, despite appearing to be fake. This includes the lines “Step to my girl, hands getting thrown up. February 19th is the Glow Up.”
This has been swept up into the real critique of Drake’s behavior because that is both the date next year that Brown turns 18 and his girlfriend Johanna Leia’s (a few years older than Drake) birthday. Likely fake, the lyrics have given Drake stans more room to say that all of the negative talk of Drake’s behavior is the result of a hit job by the Barbz (stans of fellow rapper Nicki Minaj) and other haters—as if everything that has been verified about his behavior is fake because some supposed lyrics from his latest album have been passed around as real.
Meanwhile, his album Certified Lover Boy really does credit R. Kelly, while one of the producers, Noah Shebib, stated that they did not work with Kelly, but were legally required to credit him because the song “TSU” starts with two people talking while a Kelly plays in the background.
Even so, bringing up a man who is on trial for child pornography, kidnapping, and forced labor is a bad look. Any mainstream artist would’ve been critiqued for working with or referencing Kelly uncritically—especially one (like Drake) who has a tattoo of Aaliyah on their back.
In addition to being shielded by our culture just because he is a successful man, Drake is also protected by his status as a light-skinned Black man with an audience that appears to be mostly made up of women. His fandom may not be entirely female, but many women publicly swoon after this man. Even in the recent Lizzo song “Rumors,” she said, “No, I ain’t fuck Drake yet, ha!”
Recently, Black media critic—and one of my new faves on YouTube—F.D Signifier discussed how colorism impacts Black men in media. In his video, he discusses the way Drake and Kanye have been treated differently for being more forthright with their emotions. Despite Kanye being more vulnerable, Drake was memed on. This inability for non-fans to take his art and manhood seriously also allows people to overlook and forgive his pattern of predatory behavior.
His appearance of softness is not just a byproduct of how we look at light-skinned men; Drake engages with it. For a while, he had a heart shaved into the top of his cut. His album is even called Certified Lover Boy. The problem isn’t that he chooses to express masculinity in ways outside of the rigid mainstream; it is that fans and others overlook the possibility of predatory behavior when he does this.
All of this shouldn’t get him off the hook from accusations of hurting people and children, nor does it mean he’s incapable of doing so, despite people’s assumptions. Non-binary Justice League actor Ezra Miller also challenges gender expectations, and there is a video of them appearing to choke out a women in Iceland in 2020. Women are also overlooked for their abuse towards men and children because of gender expectations. It’s dangerous to assume anyone is incapable of predatory or abusive behavior just because they don’t publicly exude toxic masculinity.
These instances of Drake’s allegedly inappropriate behavior shouldn’t be ignored or shoved off as oversensitive scrutiny. If someone is showing us who they are, we shouldn’t wait for a large documentary years later to show how we ignored all the troubling signs.
(image: iOs, Damien Hirst, Ovo, and Republic Records.)
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