It turns out not everyone had as enthusiastic a response to Drake‘s book of poetry as DJ Khaled did (and even his was a little noncommital). After Complex got a few full-time poets to review the book, Drake learned that he wasn’t being taken quite as seriously as perhaps he’d hoped.
With a title like Titles Ruin Everything, you’d think he’s in on the joke, but as New York Times bestselling author Hanif Abdurraqib pointed out, it’s kind of hard to tell. “None of these strike me as poems, because they’re not even attempting to push against any unknown in order to offer something revelatory or at least somewhat beautiful,” he says in the piece.
“Some of these are so absurd that they’re actually funny,” he continues. “But it’s hard to tell if he also understands that they’re bending into absurdist humor, and understands that there will be people who find it profound. Or if he’s convinced himself of the profundity. Really, it’s kind of just a book of puns. Silly lil’ jokes. It is a struggle for me to tell how in on the joke he is… I’m not personally offended by anything that masquerades as poetry, because it happens so often in every possible arena of entertainment and consumption, but this is essentially a coffee table book of one-line jokes.”
Houston poet laureate Aris Kian echoed Hanif’s thoughts, musing, “Drake’s poems operate within an excess of white space, a reduced set of images and limited punctuation. The tools of tension, breath and play are only explored through the typical two-line set up/punchline format.”
Of course, if any of this ruffled Drake’s feathers, he seems reluctant to show it. In his Instagram Story, he posted a response of sorts with a meme calling the critics “Randomly angry poets” (despite, y’know, the author calling them to ask their opinions and neither seeming all that angry) and shrugging off their criticism. Of course, this could just be a case of Drake coping with receiving pushback on yet another of his creative endeavors — even if it is, as one of my colleagues put it in Slack, “not poetry, it’s merch.”