06 October 2023

"8AM in Charlotte" by Drake (2023)

I decided to take a look at 8AM in Charlotte because, according to MediaTakeOut, Drake uses the opportunity to diss Kanye West.  And while working on another music blog over the past few years, this is a feud that I studied pretty extensively.

It's one of the pettier beefs in hip-hop so to speak, because Drake and Kanye already squashed it a couple of years ago.  But Drizzy has not been as forgiving as Yeezus.  And from what I gathered based on that aforementioned research, Drake's lack of forgiveness stems primarily from Pusha T bringing his son, Adonis Graham, who was less than a year old at the time (and not yet revealed to the public), into the feud on 2018's The Story of Adidon.

Doing so can be considered one of the lowest blows in the history of hip-hop beefs, and back then, Pusha T was Kanye's faithful sidekick.  So the whole ordeal turned into a big mess filled with denials, counter-disses, so on and so forth.  But on his part, West did try to dead matters early on, publicly supporting Drake and letting it be known that he did not leak the existence of his son to Pusha T and since then has more or less tried to maintain peace with Aubrey throughout the years.

The cover art to Drake's album For All the Dogs,
as drawn by his son, Adonis.

DOES DRAKE DISS KANYE IN "8AM IN CHARLOTTE"

As for the lyrics of 8AM in Charlotte, i.e. the sections that MTO flagged as being disses towards Kanye, they don't all particularly read as such but more like Drizzy may be disrespecting and threatening his opps overall - the subject which most of the third verse is dedicated to.  He starts off by implying that his adversaries are gay:

You niggas obsessed with me, and it's not on no-hetero vibe.

And whereas rumors have floated around in the past concerning Kanye's sexuality, we, the listeners, can't really tell if that's what Drake is alluding to.

The next few lines are more generally interesting:

Handle beef so quiet, you think that I'm lettin' it slide.

Next thing you know, we tip-toein' past enemy lines.

Diss me so long ago, we making your memories fly.

Conspiracy theories start floatin' 'round like the Kennedy guy.

I'll prolly hold a grudge against you guys 'til I'm 75.

This is actually what I was referring to earlier in the post, that Drake isn't the forgive-and-forgetting type of guy.  He has made similar assertions in other songs, that he doesn't overlook past disputes and is rather timing his enemies.  As a matter of example, earlier this year Drizzy basically threatened Pusha T (and by extension Pharrell Williams) in a way that suggested when he attacks, he does so in a way that dudes won't see coming and furthermore confirming that he's not interested in "repairing" damaged relationships or "sparing" his opps.

Drake continues to lambast the addressee of the third verse of 8AM in Charlotte by implying that said individual is not true to himself and therefore has been abandoned by his homeys:

Ayy, niggas lyin' for a livin'.  I couldn't relate.

We all gotta lay in the bed we make, but that couldn't be Drake.

You forced a lot of fake love when real ones stood in your face.

That's why you got deserted by your niggas like puddin' and cake.

I got you on camera bowin' down, but the footage is safe.

Thank God, another USB to put in the safe.

Concerning that idea of being "deserted by your niggas", it is interesting to point out that Kanye has recently fallen out with some of his most-loyal artists/homeys, such as Big Sean and including Pusha T.  West's label, G.O.O.D Music, seems to have all put dissolved, with the only other artists currently signed, besides Yeezus himself, being Sheck Wes and 070 Shake.

That said, out of all of the above, the one line that I most believe may aimed at Kanye is Drake claiming that he has "another USB to put in the safe".  A couple of years ago, a hip-hop media personality named Wack 100 claimed that he had an additional sex tape featuring Kim Kardashian, i.e. West's (ex-)wife, alongside her former boyfriend Ray J, besides the one that has already been in public circulation for a couple of decades.  Wack asserted that said video was "on the laptop" and implied that he was selling the clip, later stating that the laptop itself ended up in the hands of Kanye.  But what I was thinking is that maybe Drake got a copy of the clip, i.e. via a "USB" drive that he subsequently "put in the safe" to later use against West if so desired.

THE REST OF THE SONG

But with all of that being hypothesized, there's a lot more going on in this track than Graham intimidating his enemies.  8AM in Charlotte actually starts off with Drizzy paying his respects to the Most High.  And honestly, this is one of his more, let's say introspective tracks as opposed to just being braggadocious.  For instance, in the first verse Drake laments that while he's succeeding in life, his homeys have rather adopted impenitent criminal/drug-dealing lifestyles.  And this is a sentiment Graham reiterates in the second verse, i.e. his dedication to guiding his "dawgs" down a more righteous path.

8AM in Charlotte is also replete with shoutouts, both direct and indirect, not only to Aubrey's homeys such as Oliver el-Khatib, Central Cee and 21 Savage but also a bunch of celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Shania Twain and T.D. Jakes.  And with that latter reference in mind, it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that this song may have been influenced by Kanye's style, as he's the one who made it chic to include Christian references in mainstream rap songs.

ADONIS GRAHAM ON FULL DISPLAY

With this track being released today, 6 August 2023, Drake's son Adonis is currently five-years' old and has actually been heavily involved in the project.  Since 8AM in Charlotte is the second single from Drizzy's album For All the Dogs (which also came out today), the track comes complete with its own music video.  And the younger Graham is all up in that piece, basically being afforded just as much screentime, if not more, than his dad:

Adonis also drew the cover art to For All the Dogs, which, to note, is supposed to represent a goat.  And whereas Drake may have had his reasons for initially keeping the child's birth a secret, more recently the boy has been in full display before the world, being firmly on his way to becoming a nepo baby, if you will:

CONCLUSION

Lyrically, I would argue that 8AM in Charlotte is one of Drake's better songs of late.  But as for the instrumental, it doesn't really do the lyrics proper justice, even though you can clearly hear everything the emcee is spittin'.  Also, at least on the surface, it doesn't seem that this track has anything to do with the titular Charlotte, with Drake rather giving a couple of shoutouts to Houston.  However, as pointed out by Genius, this is the sixth of similarly-titled tracks he has dropped throughout the years, beginning with 2010's 9AM in Dallas.