The month of June brings two gifts synonymous with youthful exuberance: summer’s arrival and high school graduations. This week in particular, one in which many Class of 2015 graduates will ceremoniously remember as their first in the ‘real world,’ also marks the fifth anniversary of Drake’s debut album, Thank Me Later.

But Aubrey Drake Graham, arguably the most popular rapper in the world, never got to have that proud graduation moment. He dropped out of high school over a decade ago to play Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation, and didn’t actually earn his diploma until the fall of 2012.# That’s why although he may have gone from ‘that random dude in Trey Songz’s video’# to basically doing a TED talk during the Apple Music introduction, he still feels the need to wear his accomplishments like a Kevlar-coated OVO sweatsuit. The potency of Drake’s not-so-humblebrags are the result of an obsession with a phase he’s still atoning for at nearly 29 years old. And, whether you root for this ‘underdog’ or not, his success has allowed him to live out the ideal high-school reunion revenge tale.

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While playing coach during the University of Kentucky’s alumni game about a month before earning his diploma, Drake explained that he missed out on high school:

“I actually dropped out of high school, which I don’t know if a lot of people know,” he told Kentucky Sports Television. “I never really got like, a great school experience.” But no matter how brief his enrollment may have been, whatever he endured had a substantial impact.

Some people’s eyes roll at the thought of attending their high school reunion, but Nothing Was the Same’s “Pound Cake/Paris Morton Music 2” revealed a vengeful delight at the notion:


My classmates, they went on to be chartered accountants
Or work with their parents, but thinkin’ back on how they treated me
My high school reunion might be worth an appearance
Make everybody have to go through security clearance
Tables turn, bridges burn, you live and learn
With the ink I could murder, word to my nigga Irv
Yeah, I swear shit just started clickin’ dog
You know it’s real when you are who you think you are

Given all Drake has accomplished since his high school days, this preoccupation with them shows what a driving force they were in his eventual triumph. And what makes that triumph so fulfilling? Something tangible to show for it, i.e. money.

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“Money just changed everything, I wonder how life without it would go.”

The first sentence of “Fireworks,” Thank Me Later’s tone-setter, picks up precisely where “Fear,” one of the final songs he released before the album arrived, left off. On the latter, Drake laments on how the money (specifically, that acquired post-So Far Gone) that changed his life had become a double-edged sword. The one thing he longed for more of when he was using those Degrassi checks to pay his mother’s rent # had become a see-saw of complications he was too green to balance.

Five years later, after enduring an excess of criticism for simply being himself, money has changed everything once more.

With each album, Drake unlocks accomplishments like an avid gamer. He confesses that he’s become someone who thinks about money and women non-stop because it’s “where life took [him],” but it’s embarrassingly patent that this is who he always wanted to be. The girls who brushed him off during his Acura days?# He now fucks them with ease, checks them off his bucket list, then commits the memories to song. The guys who made fun of or doubted him? His tax bracket is a fantasy to them. He used to think Benzes were pretentious, but the thirst for that Bugatti he mentions on “Know Yourself” is fueled by a desire to show everyone who dismissed Aubrey that Drake has made it.

Drake is retaliating by living out a dream#. And, not coincidentally, it’s his (self) positioning as the physical embodiment of the underdog that explains his sweeping appeal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx299N_a0fM

What we have here is a case of the textbook narcissist. It’s not an insult; it’s simply the truth: Drake is at the center of every story he tells. This self-absorption would be considered a deficiency for most, but for Drake, it’s one of his biggest assets. His strength lies in the ability to look inward and excavate the buried emotions that everyone feels. For those whose high school years were largely unspectacular, but who now want to ensure their success is incontestable, Drake is the passive-aggressive voice of exultance.

People love a good revenge tale (see: The Count of Monte Cristo or the comeuppance-filled conclusion of Cruel Intentions.#), and Aubrey Graham has become the patron saint of adolescent retribution. For a generation of adults whose friends have to tolerate the consequences of their sensitivity#, he’s the petty victors’ mouthpiece. And he’s damn good at what he does.

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We all know a Drake. Shit, some of us are that Drake. He represents those who won’t let you forget about their new job or recently-purchased home, and those drunk with power after receiving that coveted Verified Account check on Twitter. That’s why he wears every single chain in the house# and takes shots out of his Grammys.

Trophy

Anyone about to graduate from high school should survey their class one final time. If you aren’t the next Drake, you’re definitely in the presence of him (or her): someone who, should they opt to attend the reunion in 10 years, will do so only to stunt on everyone as payback. When it happens, let it slide. It will be heavy baggage they’ll have carried for an entire decade.

As for that Bugatti Drake wants so badly?# He’d absolutely pull up to the reunion in it, just to show it to everyone who didn’t believe in him.