“Started from the Bottom” by Drake

We already know that a work of art, especially within the context of hip-hop, entitled “Started from the Bottom” is likely to be a come-up piece. And people more familiar with this genre would also acknowledge that rap songs themed on such a topic are more or less a dime a dozen. 

But the way Drake rationalized dropping this track is as it representing a true account of the background he ascended from. Or as his explanation further implies, many people are/were apparently under the impression that he came from a privileged background which afforded him relatively-easy access to superstardom. But Drake wanted to clarify that NO, to the contrary he and his loved ones worked very hard for him to achieve his standing.

Well, the chorus doesn’t actually put forth a sentiment of arduous labor. But we can perhaps say that such is logically implied since it would indeed take some major sacrifices to make it all the way “from the bottom” up to the major success Drizzy had become. 

But besides coming from a humble background, the other idea which comes through blatantly in the hook is that now that Drake has made it, he’s putting his ‘whole f–king team’ also. Or viewed from a different angle, upon blowing up he didn’t turn his back on the people who helped him succeed. Instead he’s going to make sure they’re taken care of, as with himself.

Verse 1

Then the verses illustrate what Aubrey went through personally in the past. Now first off, let it be officially known that Drake did not grow up in the ‘hood, i.e. a violent inner-city community, like most famous rappers tend to. 

In fact such is one of the reasons he was compelled to drop this track. This is because many people consider coming from ghetto to be sort of a prerequisite in terms of being a genuine rapper. Well, the vocalist doesn’t proceed to falsely present himself as coming from poverty in the name of appeasing the masses. 

However, he does let it be known that his family life wasn’t all gravy as he and his mom, whom he lived with, argued regularly. He also alludes to spending ‘all night working’, you know, facing the same type of economic challenges that a normal person does. 

Additionally, the vocalist comments on his relationship with his uncle, who used to let a young Drizzy drive his car. And the implication in that regard is that whereas said uncle was supportive, at the same time Drake knew he had to learn to stand on his own. But now looking back on how he was formerly compelled to borrow his uncle’s whip, he can celebrate that in the present there is no need to. And why? Because the rapper brings home a healthy “half a million” dollars for each show he performs.

Verse 2

In the second verse, Drake directly addresses the issue we spoke to earlier, how people like to present him as someone who “never struggled” and therefore lacks genuine tenacity, if you will. But his reaction to that is no, he is in fact a real man. 

Moreover, he acknowledges just how influential he and his clique are. Presumably he’s speaking most specifically to their standing in the Toronto/Canadian music scene. It should be noted that Aubrey Graham has in fact been the most-successful musician from Up North since Céline Dion

So he’s like give “credit where it’s due”. In other words, acknowledge his accomplishments instead of hating. But even beyond that, he’s not giving much thought to haters anyway. Rather his advice to doubters is that they should dedicate more focus on their own come-up, as he is doing with his. 

Then finally, Drizzy concludes the verse by dropping one of his funniest lines ever, claiming that wears all of his chains even when he’s at home. We’re not exactly sure what this assertion is supposed to mean within the overall context of this song but again, may have been inserted as some sort of comic relief. But of course the most-general way to interpret it is as the vocalist being filthy rich, which would be the most obvious manifestation of his come-up.

My Homeys First

Before closing out, Drake gives us another fresh passage in the bridge. Here he puts forth further dedication towards his team, though in a roundabout way by expressing his utter reluctance to let “new n**gas” into the circle. Or put otherwise, he’s not very trustful.

Also he and his homeys are not the types to engage in “too much explaining”. Such a practice may be the reason why the verses of this song are so terse, as in Drizzy not feeling that he has to really go out of his way to rationalize his authenticity. 

Moreover, he’s not one of those individuals whose life story changes as the years progress. Or more simply put, he’s not ashamed of who he is or where he came from, even if it doesn’t fit the standard rap musician narrative.

In Closing

So conclusively, Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” is a very interesting piece. Indeed there is no genre of popular music whereas machismo is as much of a requirement as rap. And usually part and parcel of a rapper convincing the world that he is formidable would be by citing a personal history as a drug dealer, gangbanger or other type of violent criminal. 

Well Drake did not have the ideological luxury of coming from the ‘hood. But he assures the rap community that his come-up has been real nonetheless. And yes, even though he may not have grown up in abject poverty, his is still, relatively speaking, a rags-to-riches story, as illustrated by the reference to his uncle’s car for instance.

Lyrics of "Started from the Bottom"

“Started from the Bottom” Facts

Artist(s): Drake
Album/EP: “Nothing Was the Same” 

Was “Started from the Bottom” a single release?

Yes. “Started from the Bottom” was the 1st single of Drake’s “Nothing Was the Same” album. Drake and his team officially released “Started from the Bottom” on February 1st, 2013.

Writing and Production

The song was written by Drake with assistance from Michael Coleman, Noah Shebib and Deno.

It was produced by Noah Shebib (“40”) in conjunction with Mike Zombie.

Drake explains "Started from the Bottom"

Genre(s)

  • Hip hop
  • Progressive rap

Awards/Honors

The song had two nominations at the 2014 Grammys (“Best Rap Performance” and “Best Rap Song”). It lost both awards to “Thrift Shop” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Wanz).

The following nominations completed the “Best Rap Performance” category:

The “Best Rap Song” category included:

Even More Accolades

In December of 2013, the song was named by Complex Magazine as the second best track released that year. In the same year, it was ranked the ninth best song on the list, “Best 100 Songs of 2013” by Rolling Stone.

Chart Performance

  • UK (5)
  • US (6)

Sampling

  • Mike Stud – “Started From the Bottom” (2013)
  • MessyPandas – “What’s Up” (2014)
  • Lil Wayne – “Started” (2013)
  • Lil Snupe – “In Tha Air (Freestyle)” (2013)
  • Drake feat. Kanye West – “Glow” (2017)
  • Drake – “Tuscan Leather” (2013)
  • Busy Signal – “Mi Deh Yah” (2013)
Started from the Bottom
Drake shares his thoughts on "Started from the Bottom"

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