It’s that time of year again when many of us are forced to reckon with the fact that America lets us down daily, but we still really wouldn’t mind a day off to collect cookout plates like Super Mario collects coins. Whether you’re hosting a cookout or crashing one, you should know what to do if someone passes you the aux cord. After all, your role as the function’s de facto DJ could be the difference between one scoop of potato salad or two. There will probably be a lot of resources to guide you on what you should play, but we’re here to tell you what you shouldn’t. At some point during the day, someone will request a Drake song. Why wouldn’t they? The man’s got bops. But don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that queuing up “Fireworks” will be a cute moment. If you don’t want that awkward, record-scratch moment that causes people to take a break from their plates, step away from the Thank Me Later opener. It is the last thing you’ll want to hear on the Fourth of July.
“Fireworks” can almost be considered vintage Drake at this point. After an impressive string of mixtapes, fans who followed Drake since the public knew him as Aubrey Graham on Degrassi wondered what a debut album from the actor-turned-rapper would sound like. When the album arrived in the summer of 2010, the opener was subdued for the Lil Wayne protegé. Sure, he hadn’t really tried his hand at Tough Guy Drake just yet, but for his first major label debut, Drake chose to introduce himself to the world with… “Fireworks”?
The sound of fireworks explodes on the track before the Toronto rapper creeps in, which one could argue is a little too spot-on for the song title. Fireworks are cooler to watch than to hear, so the nearly 30-second sound effects capping both ends of the song are borderline overkill. His opening verse showcases the Drake we will never get back: A 23-year-old Toronto kid first experiencing how fame changes his relationship with the world. “Yeah, this life is something I would die for / October’s own but it’s looking like July 4,” he raps. “I just wish they’d let you try it first / This time I’m really going off, fireworks.” The Independence Day/rap cliches are never-ending, and we haven’t even got to the second verse yet.
In a 2010 interview with MTV News, Drake shared that the Alicia Keys collaboration was a deliberate effort to let people into his world. “That’s why I picked [“Fireworks”] to go first, and that’s why I wrote the first verse like that,” he said. “It’s really where I am in my life right now. I know they’re looking forward to the album, so I want them to get a feel of how the story starts off.” We get glimpses of that in his anecdotes about Lucky Strike dates and his estranged relationship with his father, Dennis Graham. But to be honest, if you’re going to get into the emotions keeping you up at night, just take your plate and go. The second verse’s opening line will tell you that even Drake didn’t really mean for “Fireworks” to be used for barbecue purposes: “I’m just such a gentleman, you should give it up for me / Look at how I’m placing all my napkins and my cutlery.” If your food requires utensils, you’re doing the Fourth of July wrong.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer for VICE. Follow her on Twitter.
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