More so than any other genre of music, there seems to be a longstanding tradition in hip hop of promoting the city in which you’re from. From Los Angeles to Atlanta to New York, I’ve always admired the way that hip hop artists promote and showcase their cities.
For a long time in Toronto we didn’t have that. Our hip hop scene was too embryonic and we just didn’t have artists who were both big enough and willing to take the lead. Or at least, that’s what I was lead to believe as an outsider who candidly doesn’t really follow the scene.
But all that has changed.
Earlier this month, Pitchfork published an interesting article by Jamieson Cox called: Views From The 6 – Inside Drake’s Toronto. It talks all about Drake’s love affair with this city and it even has a map of all the areas of Toronto that have been featured in his videos.
But at one point in the article Jamieson argues that – like many hip hop cities – Drake’s depiction of Toronto is more fantasy than reality:
His mythological Toronto is a metropolis where everyone knows your name and exes are always lurking around the corner, a forest of penthouses with a panoramic view, a park-studded playground where the skies are free of ambient light and the highways are always clear. Like many hip-hop locales, it’s a city closer to the realm of theory—and fantasy—than reality.
However, at the end of the day, I don’t think that matters. Similar to how your mind actually believes that wine tastes better out of an expensive glass, I think a big part of city branding has to do simply with how you’re supposed to feel. What is Toronto supposed to be like? How am I supposed to experience this?
I love what Drake is doing. Because if everyone thinks it’s supposed to be a certain way, eventually that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.