How powerful can a guy be in a sweater? Drake’s new video “Headlines,” which premiered yesterday, goes a long way towards answering that question. The clip is a departure for Drake, whose previous videos largely, for better or for worse, eschewed well-worn rap-video tropes. “Headlines,” however, fits the gangster-boss mold to a tee. The introspective shots familiar from previous Drake videos are gone, aside from a shot in a high-rise’s glass elevator, in which may as well be Gordon Gecko. Elsewhere, Drake smokes a cigar (and yes, rocks a sweater) at the head of a dinner table, his all-male entourage arrayed around him. The sequence attempts to subvert what’s often been read as an unintentional Cosby Show reference into something more like Rutger Hauer in Surviving The Game.
Most notably, the video takes place in Toronto. In fact, parts of the video are shot at the Rogers Center (formerly, the SkyDome)—including a shot of its roof retracting and several of the title of Drake’s upcoming album (October 24th’s Take Care) on the JumboTron. The clip gambles that Drake’s Canadian background can be used as an asset rather than a liability. In other words, rather than responding to those who would take shots at parts of his image, he’s used them as essential elements of a “Boss”-type video. That sort of unapologetic reimagining doesn’t often fly in hip-hop culture, but when it has worked, it’s been crucial in reaching iconic status (think Tupac). “Headlines” is hardly Tupac-level, but it’s much more successful than we’d have anticipated.