Drake’s Plan

The plot of Drake's music video for "God's Plan" is him giving him out money to the poor. What was he trying to say?

Contributors
Sean Jacobs (SJ)
Dylan Valley (DV)
Haythem Guesmi (HG)
Boima Tucker (BT)

Canadian rapper Drake recently went on a giving binge in South Florida. The giving doubled as visuals for his single, “God’s Plan.” What is he trying to say? That’s when we asked around the office.

 


SJ

What did you make of this?

🤕

That’s the Donna E. Shalala Student Center in the first minute? Isn’t Donna Shalala the president of the Clinton Foundation. Coincidence?

DV

My immediate reaction is that I feel good watching it — but also I feel like this kind of photo-op philanthropy seems more beneficial to the person who’s giving than the actual people in need.

Anthony Fantano, the Needle Drop guy on Twitter, did a Youtube video arguing for the merits of the video, saying that Drake was trying to make a point about poverty in the US.

SJ

Of course rappers handing out turkeys on Thanksgiving and Christmas is an old thing, but this ups it a bit.

On the back of Black Panther, I can only see it increase. At a selfish level, not to be cynical, it seems like the the next logical thing for 30-odd year old and aging rappers trying to find themselves or have meaning. Jay Z has been adopting such a posture too; so have aging NBA stars.

French Montana recently received a meaningless award from the Global Citizen people for giving $100,000 for health in Uganda, after he went to shoot a video there.

The other recent example is Chance the rapper giving $2m to Chicago schools.

At the time, I liked the Chicago Teachers Union’s response to Chance’s donation:

Recognizing that at least Chance did something unlike the mayor of Chicago or the Illinois governor, “… Private philanthropy and goodwill, however, are a wholly inadequate method for providing a sustainable and fully funded school district. At this rate, we would need more than 200 Chances to emerge to fill in the gaps already imposed and planned for CPS this year.

The one part of what that Tantano guy said in that video you forwarded Dylan that is interesting, is his comment about Canada. It would have been great had Drake campaigned for the Canadian social democracy model being implemented in the US.

“Drake campaigning for the Canadian social democracy model being implemented in the US.”

He did? If so that kind of changes my opinions of him. I still think the video was funded by the Clinton Foundation. Shalala is no coincidence!

BTW, Tef Poe, the best contemporary political rapper in the US (from St. Louis) talks about not taking money from George Soros:

SJ

No Drake did not. My point was: what if Drake did do that.

I like Tef Poe, but why would he hate on Soros? Of all the people to take money from, Soros’s money usually goes to better things.

I think it was a reflection of internal politics around Ferguson and the formation of Black Lives Matter. A lot of local black organizations jockeying around the US Midwest happened around the time of Ferguson, and I think Tef Poe’s rap had something to do with that. Like activist NGO beef?

Maybe it’s a general anti-philanthropy stance? Remember these sorts of debates?

SJ

Yeh, one critique of foundations is that they try to capture and end up managing whatever radical energies existed into “programs” or talk shops and as a result end up containing people’s abilities to use mass politics to change things.

SK

I guess one take would be how interesting it is that in an age of a declining belief in the social contract, it is — ironically — private entities that are stepping up and filling the gaps. This will always be inadequate, unregulated and cruelly inconsistent (which is why government needs to do it) but it’s interesting that private acts of do-goodery are essentially co-opting government programs. We’re in a world of opposites. leftists are bigging up millionaires as long as they are giving up, cheering for the surveillance state, promoting states rights … and this is just one example of the political topsy turviness that we are living in.

Interesting.

SJ

For you’re interest:

HG

That part in the last link Sean shared when Peter Rosenberg, one of the morning hosts of Hot 97, the New York City radio station, speaks of different types of Mitzvahs and “of not knowing who you are giving to” is exactly how the whole idea of giving back is explained in Islam (sadaka) and Buddhism (dana).

But back to Drake. I see the video as another public relations stunt that benefits more Drake and his public image than the recipients of these donations. To pay for groceries for a day or to divide the amount of $1 million into tiny small amounts of $20,000, do not resolve the lingering issues of impoverishment and underfunding.

But I think there is another angle to Drake’s initiative. His donation is part of a larger culture of fundraising in the US that comes to be seen as a voluntary and generous act but also as a necessary dimension of the functioning of public institutions: From university fundraising to crowdfunding websites for personal causes, civic funding and donations have been promoted as “smart,” “participatory,” and “innovative.” What this narrative dismisses is that a heavy reliance on donations is a blueprint for a manipulative rebranding of individual and organized philanthropy as a substitute to the role of government. It is interesting in this sense that Drake’s video mobilizes a thinly-disguised aesthetics of organized charity marketing.

From Oprah to Bono to the Clooneys, donations are to celebrities what philanthropy is to organized charities: a veiled abstraction of what Donald Glover refers to, albeit indirectly, as “the algorithm.”

DV

Damn. Mic drop, Haythem!

Seems like Drake is a bit of a spoilt child:

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