Tuesday, December 5th, 2023

Drake ft. Sexyy Red & SZA – Rich Baby Daddy

Okay, we’ll admit it. The main reason we came back is that, if we didn’t, we would’ve gone a year where we didn’t cover a Drake single, and that just felt so wrong…


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[4.81]

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: This should be the slammiest of all the dunks. Drake — you know him, he’s well past his peak but can still afford a banger when he puts his account to it! Sexyy Red — the summer was hers! SZA, the biggest star out! Miami bass music! The title! All the names are on the poster, promising a good ass time, but we never get there. It’s a summer blockbuster pushed to October for a reason, and is way too frigid to get this writer’s ass moving. First kid on YouTube to upload a [BASS BOOSTED] edit moves this joint up a point, although the bass was the whole fuckin’ point in the first place.
[3]

Tim de Reuse: You can call it “a consequence of being overplayed” or “so many people copied him that now he sounds boring” or whatever. All I know is that trying to think of words to describe Drake in December of 2023 is like pulling teeth. It’s standard atmospheric pressure — it’s a medium-sized red delicious apple — it’s a glass of tap water. I am listening as hard as I can, and I cannot hear anything.
[3]

Andrew Karpan: The first thing I think about when I think about “Rich Baby Daddy” is the uncredited voice of Jessica Domingo, because it’s literally the first thing on there. Processed to sound almost as if being sung behind a waterfall, Domingo’s voice registers at the very volume and pitch of distance, a recurring gesture for voices like these in the Drake oeuvre. The best part about these songs is that they are always the sum total of their parts, so they can really be appreciated like this; something Drizzy himself realized a while back too, when he started sorting and rearranging them for curatorial effect. In a sea of wobbly fashionable Miami bass, the bars he picks up here from Sexyy Red don’t feel out of place next to his own unrelated internal monologue, nor next to the patched-in haunted refrain from SZA, a miracle get that impresses because it is impressive. His otherwise unexplained deliberate misreading of a decade-old Florence + the Machine record that acts as a kind of perplexing coda eventually begins to make sense too, if you listen to it a few hundred times like I did.
[9]

Katherine St Asaph: In three years we’re going to learn that this was originally a SZA solo track that Drake hijacked for himself, like Rihanna’s recording of “Consideration”, right? I need to believe this so I can justify this score to myself.
[5]

Michelle Myers: It’s a dark truth that many of Drake’s best songs involved vampirically swagger-jacking some up-and-coming rapper with local buzz or a viral track. Here, he attempts to harness Sexyy Red’s gloriously blunt charisma and ends up utterly upstaged. Red lets herself soften against a skittery, femme club beat, her voice crackling warmly as she interpolates her own damn song. SZA sounds like a 1996 album-cut hidden gem sped up and resurrected by a Zoomer with 15 million TikTok followers. And then there’s fucking Drake, increasingly bitter and out-of-touch, having long lost whatever soft-hearted charm I saw in him a decade ago. His verses are the musical equivalent of thirtysomething white ladies who write songs about skinny jeans and side-parts, embarrassing for all of us.
[6]

Taylor Alatorre: A soundtrack to the approaching millennial midlife crisis that’s so candid in its thirsty stabbing at relevance that I can’t help but cheer for it, or feel sorry for it, or both. On a formal level, “Rich Baby Daddy” is nowhere near as elegant as its obvious predecessors, “In My Feelings” and “Nice for What,” but after repeat listening, that messiness, that feeling of being pulled in several different directions at once, starts to feel like a deliberate choice. The guest stars, who were recruited with that in mind, go even further by alternately supporting and undermining Drake’s intended displays of mastery over female sexuality. Sexyy Red pays her requisite homage unflinchingly, with a leisurely cadence more suited for a block party than a marquee album, while SZA disrupts the prebuilt Madonna-whore duality by crashing out of the gate with “I need a dick and conversation,” all while sounding like she’s being launched on a lily pad toward the heavens. The strip-club-in-a-water-level sonics add some emotional texture to what would otherwise be an explosion of untrimmed id, somewhat easing the transition into the stupid-on-paper “post-nut clarity” outro. As laughable as that concept may be, it evokes the yearning post-adolescence of “old Drake” as much as the Florence interpolation does, and just like Mr. Last Name Ever himself, I can’t call myself immune to the periodic desire to go back, back to 2009.
[8]

Ian Mathers: I know we’re not predisposed to like Fucking Drake around here, but the processing on his chorus vocals is the most off-putting I’ve heard in a while. And not because they’ve cranked the Auto-Tune or whatever up too far — I’ve heard and loved more pronounced examples of that — but because they’ve somehow managed to produce the world’s deepest whine. At least he’s barely here, ceding most of the track to a high-effort-for-low-reward Sexyy Red performance. SZA is much better but barely shows up, which is probably the right move. And then Fucking Drake comes back to just “sing” Florence + the Machine for a bit! Every bit of shit we’ve ever talked was justified.
[2]

Tara Hillegeist: Not even Drake sounding the most alive and enjoying-himself and hands down the funniest guest bars anyone’s ever contributed to a Drake chorus can fully save this song from the depths of antipathy carved into my psyche by several years of Fucking Drake too many, but credit where it’s due: I haven’t left a track from Degrassi’s own Jimmy Brooks feeling this genuinely entertained by what I just heard since “Started from the Bottom”. And that’s impressive, considering this is a track where I had to hear him mumble-singing soulfully about the emotional impact of post-nut clarity.
[6]

Will Adams: So many elements working against this — abrupt instrumental breaks; SZA’s verse sounding like it was pasted on with Elmer’s; left-field Florence interpolation; Drake in general — but Sexyy Red’s hook is indelible. Sometimes that’s all you need.
[6]

Crystal Leww: “Shake that ass for Drake, now shake that ass for me” are some of the funniest instructions ever doled out on a Drake song, which is an accomplishment if you consider how long Drake has been around. Drake is essential to this song if only for those lines. 
[6]

Aaron Bergstrom: I am willing to consider shaking my ass for Sexyy Red. Under no circumstances will I shake my ass for Drake.
[3]

Nortey Dowuona: Drake is a bad rapper. No matter what his stans, Lil Yachty, DJ Wackademics, or me in 2013 will tell you, dude is an inescapably clumsy, artless witless hack whose only talent is in co-opting more complex and dedicated art to make it more comfy and accessible to people who would never sincerely engage with what he does. Kanye has been sadder and more earnest. Phonte has been more honest and clever. Lauryn Hill did his whole schtick so well both he and Kanye keep riding off her songs. The only thing he had is that he made music that women liked, that spoke to women in a way it could never do so for dorks like us. And now he’s making flat, wan Earl Sweatshirt songs for people who hate Earl and people who hate women period. Sexyy Red’s verse is clumsy too, but it’s charming and earnest, and the SZA verse is entrancing, vivid and stunning. The line “I got a feeling this is more than what we both say” contains more genuine worry, fear and hope than this hack has done in his whole career. Please, pretty please, buy SOS on vinyl, buy a record player, learn a trade, call your mom and tell her you love her, tell her you are so grateful for staying with you and loving you. Hell, click off this website. Just do not play a song where the most heterosexual man on the face of the earth tries to convince you that he can teach you to —
[3]

Joshua Minsoo Kim: I’ve spent the past few months thinking about lovers’ rock and pagode romântico through the lens of bell hooks’ idea of “loving Blackness as political resistance.” It was “Rich Baby Daddy” that made me start doing the same for Atlanta bass. Drake seems as good enough a launchpad for all this ruminating — how often have I seen men refer to his “softer” songs as being “for the girls”? How much of romance is coded across gender lines? Of course, Drake is a manipulative shithead, and it’s Sexyy Red who provides the most loving lyric we’ve heard in any of his songs: an ostensible call to embrace something approaching bisexuality. Too bad Drake opts for another beat-switch gimmick as an excuse to exert his fragile masculinity. Like, how are you gonna follow up, “Shake that ass for Drake, now shake that ass for me” with “You ain’t even know how to suck it right.”
[5]

Brad Shoup: I know how this sounds, but this needed… more Drake? More of the first-verse Drake, anyway: skipping and bobbing, fully devoted on a threeway Miami bass ballad that has exhaling synths straight out of Cupid & Psyche 85. Hell yes, give me all you got. Instead, he dips until the beat switch gives him something properly sluggish. How do you fuck up a verse that interpolates Florence and uses the phrase “post-nut clarity”? He was positively panting earlier; now he’s talking about sex like he’s issuing a Q3 performance review.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Drake drawls shit like “You ain’t even know how to suck it right” like a PE coach in a locker room and disappears to let Sexyy Red shout undeserving orders. Nice life!
[2]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Here, Drake turns his complete inertness into an advantage: he does his best Sexyy Red impression here and sings some truly brain-dead riffs on Florence + the Machine, but otherwise abandons his own song in favor of his more interesting guests. It’s an interesting move from a guy once known for using features to take over songs completely — interesting more in the meta-pop context than in the song itself, of course, but a decade and a half in to our coverage of Fucking Drake, we ought to be finding new angles when we can.
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