I want to like Drake, and I guess I do in the way I like any artist who has a song I like. I moreso mean that I want to like him more consistently. He’s a strong force in music. His songs can set precedents moving forward, so when he wastes his Billboard spot on forgettable nonsense that’s what can pollute it. That takes us to now, where, he’s actually released a real song and not just a drown out reel of dull tones and mouth sounds
“Laugh Now Cry Later” is a hard song to quantify. It has a great beat with synthetic instruments like trumpets to add a flare, but has a completely normal beat atop it. That helped the song stand out, but really stood out is its desperation and strong lyrics that remind me of “Mr. Brightside” of all things (and if you’re playing Hot 100 bingo make sure to mark you free space and bringing up a mid-2000s alt rock song in a modern rap song review. Also, how did you get that bingo sheet, they’re not done being made) in its themes and tone.
“Laugh Now Cry Later” is all the pent up frustration, regret, and jealous nature of a break up made into a song that conveys itself in the least conventional way. Not that it doesn’t have structure, it does. But instead it’s lyrics, though some are great, feel like they’re filler that gets lost in the general flow.
The first chorus alone has one of my favorite lines in the whole song, “Where do these n[ot saying that word] be at when they say they doin all this and that?” The line is so simple, but is such an understandable feeling. The feeling of being left out. You hear all these great stories and are lost on when or where they were even able to do them. It relates to the idea of a failed relationship based on its previous line “We took a trip, now we on your block and it’s a ghost town.” These combined give the sense they were lying or gave unreal expectations
Drake’s first verse is gets into the self-destructive nature of a breakup along with rhetoric used to try and make the person feel better. Lines like “Been wakin up in cribs and sometimes and sometimes I don’t know where I’m at,” leads into the self-destruction either by talking about drinking too much or going to someone else’s crib (got that’s a weird word. Only can think about a baby crib). That is contrasted with “Anytime that I ran into somebody, it must be a victory lap, ayy,” where they’re trying to play at being confident and showing you’re fine even when you’re not. That all ends with the very clever “Distance between us is not like a store, this isn’t a closeable gap, ayy,” to tie in wordplay to how he feels about the relationship.
The prechorus is the best example of why I feel this is an extension of “Mr. Brightside.” The lines “I know that they at the crib going crazy, down bad. What they had didn’t last…” That feels like the extension of the chorus in Mr. Brightside. You just have the feeling something is happening and it’s crippling to you, but with the additional information of how it wasn’t successful for them in the end.
Ths chorus comes around again, and there is another interesting line in “I took half, she took the whole thing…” where it’s a line that’s reminiscent of “when the heart breaks it doesn’t break even.” It is not clear what the half or whole thing actually is, but heart is easy to read
When Lil Durk, who I never heard of before, comes in he has two interesting lines. One, “Can you not play that lil boy in the Club? We don’t listen to rats,” is a call back to a line in Drake’s verse about not listening to someone’s music in a club. This connection to a rat indicates that the artist is probably connected to the breakup, if that’s what happened. The sparce details mean anything, but the pre-chorus does feel completely of a romantic situation. The other line is just a fun twist on hanging with Drake and having drinks said in a way to make Drake’s sound like drinks.
Drake’s final verse puts the confusion of it’s a musical betrayal or romantic betrayal into more confusion as his first line “When he tell the story, that’s not how it went/ Know they be lying hundred percent,” makes it seem like a personal betrayal by a man, but could be business. This is compounded with the lines near the end “Pillow talk with ‘em, she spillin the tea/ and Shawty come back and say she didn’t mean it/ it’s hard to believe it,” paints it closer to a romantic one. It’s possible it’s both. A fellow artist and his partner cheated on him. But it’s not emphasized that’s what it is enough.
The music video is just a Nike ad. You know Nike, the company that still uses questionable labor practices in making their products. Anyway, that might sound exaggerated, but it’s Drake at the Nike HQ messing around with his crew. It feels like it’s played more for parody considering it has multiple skits throughout. They work well enough by themselves but ruins the song. The one thing the video does is make the main chorus lyric “Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry,” make more sense by being a tagline for Nike than anything else.
In spite of my long time listening to not just this song, but this kind of rap music in general, I can’t tell if it’s a bug or feature that so much of the song feels like filler or wasted potential. Maybe it’s the meme-ie way songs are cut up now to only focus on key lyrics and be used ads for brands, but that doesn’t make good songs. It makes good lines, but not songs. This works in spite of that. It’s a collection of good lines with enough of a throughline to work. But it could have more, and want it to have more.
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