Brentin Mock at CityLab has produced an absolutely insane and brilliant interpretation of Drake’s 2015 single, “Hotline Bling.” It turns out, according to Mock, that Drake is not signaling an appreciation for James Turrell, nor is he sad about an ex-girlfriend. Instead, Mock’s line-by-line exegesis reveals that Drake is “sad about poor city planning.”
Mock suggests that Drake is in anguish because the song’s subject, “Kid Suburb,” left Baltimore for the suburbs, and her new environment has changed her for the worse. The analysis uses demographic data, cell service maps, commuter tax credits, urban history, and neighborhood rezoning policy to support his conclusion. For instance, take this excerpt from “Hotline Bling” and Mock’s interpretation:
Ever since I left the city, you/
You got exactly what you asked for/
Running out of pages in your passport.
“When Kid Suburb [the ostensible subject of the song] lived in the city, it couldn’t get a federal grant to save its life,” Mock wrote. “Since she left, the city has received 18 Neighborhood Stabilization Program grants totaling roughly $1.8 million, another $5 million in Community Development Block Grants, and about $20 billion in federal low-income housing tax credits worth of funding. (Her county’s council just passed a resolution banning any of those tax credits from being used in any of its jurisdictions, but that’s another story).”