Is “Hotline Bling” Actually About Rob Ford?
By all accounts, Drake and “Disgraced Mayor of Toronto” Rob Ford are casual acquaintances. Two of Canada’s most famous — and sometimes infamous—sons, linked by nothing more than their international notoriety. But what if their relationship was something deeper? What if Drake was, as is his habit, emotionally invested in the D.M.o.T’s well-being? And what if his biggest hit single, “Hotline Bling,” is actually a cry for help from a friend? Below, a lyrical investigation:
“You used to call my on my cell phone / Late night when you need my love..”
The truth is, Drake and Ford are the biggest things to happen to Toronto since Vince Carter’s dunk over Frederic Weis, and that didn’t even happen in Toronto. So it wouldn’t be surprising if the two maintained a dialogue, feeling a responsibility to use their fame to better the city they loved.
Which means it’s not impossible that Ford, noted fan of phone conversations and a notorious “late night” reveler, often sought Drake’s council via “cell phone.” And as anyone who knows Aubrey knows, that “love” he speaks of could mean sensual love, but it more likely means: emotions.
Let’s explore the history:
“Ever since I left the city you / Got a reputation for yourself now…”
Drake’s big break came in June of 2009, when the up-and-coming Canadian rapper became a certified international star, inking a deal with Young Money Records. Since Young Money is headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, it’s very likely that 2009 is when Drake “left the city.”
A year later, an upstart city councillor named Rob Ford handily defeated opponent George Smitherman with 47% of the vote to become the 64th Mayor of Toronto.
And the “reputation” began to grow…
“Ever since I left the city you / Started wearing less and goin’ out more / Glasses of champagne out on the dance floor / Hangin’ with some girls I’ve never seen before..”
Once Ford ascended to power in Toronto (and with Drake off traveling the world), nothing was the same. His hard-partying tenure in office was rocked by scandal after scandal after scandal, with the coup-de-grace being:
“You made me feel like I did you wrong / Going places where you don’t belong…”
Canada got its own “hit heard round the world” when the Crack Smoking Mayor made international headlines, “going places where he don’t belong,” (crack parties), and in turn, bringing the reputation of The 6 spiraling with him. And the spiral continued:
“Wonder if you’re bending over backwards for someone else…”
“Doin’ things I taught you gettin’ nasty for someone else…”
“No, why you never alone? Why you always touching road? / Used to stay home, be a good girl, you was in the zone. / You should just be yourself / Right now you’re someone else…”
And hence, the plea to an old friend through a song.
Together, Drake and Ford could have been the heroes their city needed. “6 Gods” if you will. But as he watched Ford’s spiral from afar, it seemed that Drake—with the help of some convenient gender substitution—couldn’t keep silent any longer. And hence, “Hotline Bling.”
Maybe Drake sees something in Ford that we don’t. A “good girl” who’s unfortunately found himself in a “zone” he can’t escape. But Drake knows that right now, he’s not himself. Ford is “someone else.”
And maybe it can all be solved with a call to a cell phone.
Oh, and in case you needed any more proof:
(Video via Arzi Rachman)