Author: Anders Mattson

Drake song trivializes mental health

Competition is a driving force in all creative expression, so it is not too surprising that artists often criticize one another about their artistic capabilities. The competitive nature of the music industry generally pushes artists to produce chart topping work. However, there is a serious problem when competition moves past artistry and instead attacks someone else’s mental health.

Aubrey Drake Graham, more commonly known by his stage name Drake, made such an attack on Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, better known as Kid Cudi. On Oct. 26, Drake released a new single titled “Two Birds, One Stone,” which directly makes fun of Kid Cudi and his recent check-in to rehab for depression and suicidal urges. This jab goes above and beyond creative competition, and is an unjustified and inhumane attack on another person.

The problematic lyrics come near the end of the song, when Drake raps, “You were the man on the moon/ Now you just go through your phases/ Life of the angry and famous/ Still never been on hiatus/ You stay xann’d and perk’d up/ So when reality set in, you don’t gotta face it/ Look what happens soon as you talk to me crazy/ Is you crazy?”

These lyrics leave no doubt as to who Drake is targeting when he references Kid Cudi’s album “Man on the Moon.” This is clearly Drake’s response to Kid Cudi’s recent Tweets that criticized Kanye West and Drake’s popularity. Though it may have been inappropriate for Kid Cudi to criticize other artists, Drake’s response went too far. His lyrics inappropriately mocked Kid Cudi for entering a rehabilitation center due to mental health issues. This attack by Drake is a sign of ignorance on his part, showing immense immaturity.

What is even more immature is the fact that Drake has not yet apologized, or shown any respect to a fellow rapper who is struggling. Even though Kid Cudi also criticized Kanye West, West still lent his support to Kid Cudi and wished him a quick recovery. At the first Los Angeles show of his Saint Pablo tour, Kanye dedicated a version of his song “Father Stretch My Hands, Pt.1” to Kid Cudi, looking past any differences that the two artists may have.

At another show in Houston, Kanye stated that “Kid Cudi is my brother,” and that “he’s the most influential artist of the past ten years and I hope he’s doing well.” This is a sign of a great artist who can separate his personal differences from more important issues, showing his support to a fellow musician during his struggles with depression. Even after Kid Cudi criticized Kanye, Kanye was able to be a better person than Drake and stand up against the stigma of mental illness.

It is simply embarrassing for a rapper of such high caliber to mock someone’s struggle with depression. In a world still not completely aware of the seriousness of mental illness, Drake exacerbated this problem by poking fun at an issue he clearly doesn’t understand.

Anders Mattson ’19 (mattso1@stolaf.edu) is from Dana Point, Calif. He majors in English and philosophy.

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Andy’s Reflections

Laying on the trundle bed

Wondering when i’ll be dead

Hoping grandpa will get well

Or if i will burn in hell

Will my dad retire?

Do all foods really expire?

Is lying always wrong?

And what the heck is a thong?

Will there be another Harry Potter?

Or is Vader really Luke’s father?

Such questions fill my head

While i lay in this trundle bed

But now i lay thee down to sleep

And dream of worlds my mind shall keep

mattso1@stolaf.edu

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Faculty in Focus: Professor Sean Ward

Professor Sean Ward of the English department is a fresh face on St. Olaf’s campus, having just defended his dissertation last spring. However, he has already found St. Olaf’s community to be rich with passion.

“There is an earnest attempt by the students at St. Olaf to try and understand texts and cultural objects that are very different than their own, and I appreciate the courage that students have shown here,” Ward said.

Ward grew up in western Montana, in both the college town of Missoula and in Helena. Though he was surrounded by literature from a young age, “the only reason I got into literature at all was [because] at a very young age, around five or six, I started listening to rap music,” Ward said.

From this seed Ward knew he had found something that would bloom into a growing love.

“The first time I listened to rap I understood that I was going to have a lifelong relationship with that musical form,” he said.

For his undergraduate degree Ward attended the University of Montana, which opened his eyes to academia and inspired him to become a professor.

“I discovered I wanted to be a professor while I was taking a 20th Century British and Irish Literature course,” Ward said. “The professor (Robert Baker) had presented literature in such a way that it came alive to me in such a way that it never had before. If there was one thing in my life I wanted to do it was be in a place where I could make literature come alive for other people, and continue to stay alive in me. That class was truly the initial spark.”

After receiving his undergraduate degree Ward moved to Toronto, where he received his masters.

“I initially went to the University of Toronto to study rap music,” he said. “My focus has shifted somewhat, but next semester I am teaching two courses on hip-hop culture.”

Ward saw Drake perform in his early days opening for Mos Def.

“I knew [Drake] from Degrassi and I was at a Mos Def concert buying scalp tickets and saw Jimmy from Degrassi come out of a car and I wondered, what was Jimmy doing there?” he said, “It turned out he was opening for Mos Def, and got booed off the stage. This was when he was very young in the game, but he tried to freestyle and it didn’t go very well.”

Ward’s passion for rap and literature comes not just from the music itself, but also from what the lyrics teach.

For his Ph.D., Ward attended Duke University and wrote his dissertation on war and literature.

“I think that literature and music present to us models of how people have lived together in the past, how we live together in the present and how we may live together in the future,” Ward said. “It is the social and political conscious and unconscious ideas that I’m most interested in.”

As a professor, Ward gets most excited about working with students and faculty.

“I think the opportunity to get very close to literature and other cultural forms socially together with students and faculty is the most rewarding part of being a professor,” he said. “Not just aesthetically how a text works, but the politics and social vision it gives. I love the social aspect of reading and discussing with those around.”

Ward brings new life into the classroom with his passion for community and discussion. He will teach a Topics course entitled Life After Total War during interim, and then will teach a Topics course on the 20th-century British novel and a first-year writing course on the hip-hop generation in the spring.

mattso1@stolaf.edu

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