Spurning a recent trend of tight hip-hop and R&B albums, Drake dropped an Infinite Jest-sized brick onto everyone’s summer listening list. I was daunted by this summer onslaught of new music, so I let Scorpion slip, as I knew his massive fanbase would alert me to the album’s gems if any were to be found. Sure enough, by the end of the week the words “Keke, do you love me? Are you riding?” were buzzing from various friends and strangers’ videos on my phone. I haven’t been able to get the song — or, should I say, that part of the song — out of my head since.
Those lines, which have since sparked an online dance challenge (started by Instagram personality @theshiggyshow), come from “In My Feelings”, a bounce song that arrives about 30 minutes into Side B of Scorpion. The song is catchy, for sure. But as of today, I’ve watched several dozen social media masterpieces featuring joyful people everywhere getting down to that line, which a literal plea for attention. Also known as #DotheShiggy, the #InMyFeelingsChallenge asks fans to film videos of themselves dancing to the first minute or so of "In My Feelings", lightly miming those now iconic first two lyrics. Those videos, and my desire to do this new viral dance myself had me adding to Drake’s Scorpion stream count. Snuffed out rap beef and blackface photo be damned, Drake had achieved internet virality yet again.
From his early days of being memed to the explosive popularity of his “Hotline Bling” music video, internet virality has always been a sustaining force of Drake’s career. As he’s become more and more of an international superstar, he’s leaned into this virality. Recently, his desire to spark good-willed online discussion felt most bare when, after Pusha-T exposed that he has a “secret” child he allegedly doesn’t care for, Drake briefly redirected the conversation to his time on the beloved teen soap opera “Degrassi.” The music video for “I’m Upset” built on nostalgia to not only defuse the bad PR from “Story of Adidon” but also rack up valuable YouTube streams and whatever music streaming spins that also led to.
On the internet, you never know what will catch on with the legion of detectives and culture miners using social media and music streaming platforms alike. Drake’s very long album was going to get attention no matter what, but at the same time, “In My Feelings” wasn’t a single, it has yet to receive a gimmicky video, and it wasn’t a song initially pushed on Spotify’s official playlists. Now, less than two weeks from its release, it’s a minor sensation. All of that serves as a reminder that, as much as they may try, artists and the suits that they work with are no match for the millions of anonymous young listeners who, with their own social media promotional machine, decide what’s a bop and what’s not — as well as what might be best appreciated with a corresponding viral dance.
Drake could have easily followed the current wave of short albums, like Pusha-T’s Kanye West-helmed label G.O.O.D. Music. He could have also released an album half the length of Scorpion and still been left with a sizeable collection of work for listeners to parse through. However, Adidon’s dad essentially released a 25-song insurance policy that ensured something on this album would resonate with the smartphone-wielding youths, that they would turn it into viral gold — and it worked. More than a testament to Drake’s ability to read Twitter, “Keke, do you love me?” offers a reminder that the algorithms and platforms, even with all their power, are still very much playing catch-up with the users they are designed to out think.