After watching all these young artists blow up on TikTok over the past couple years (and seeing his two-year-old song “Nonstop” receive its own viral challenge this spring) Drake sat down and made a song custom-fitted to the the app.
While everyone’s stuck at home right now, challenges are taking over social media, so Drake is offering up an easy-to-remember new dance: “It go right foot up, left foot, slide/Left foot up, right foot, slide.” Come on. This is a fastball right down the middle. The man’s playbook is unmatched.
After sharing the song with popular dancers Toosie and Ayo & Teo, who each uploaded snippets on social media earlier this week, the OZ-produced “Toosie Slide” hit streaming on Friday. There’s also a music video that shows Drake social distancing in his new mansion. After spending some time with this one late last night and this morning, the Complex Music team put together some of our first impressions and takeaways of “Toosie Slide,” which you can see below.
The dance connection is closer than you think
If it feels like “Toosie Slide” was created specifically with TikTok in mind, that’s because it was. Not only did Drake share the song with Toosie and Ayo & Teo before the rest of the world heard it, he was actually in communication with the dancers while he was making it. Toosie told Rolling Stone that Drake sent him the song when it was still “just an idea” and only had a hook and a verse. Drake asked, “What you think? You think you can come up with a dance for this song that I made?” And less than 45 minutes later, the dancers sent it back to Drake, who loved it. Then he finished the song and named it after Toosie. Apparently the dancers were also supposed to be in the actual music video, but coronavirus social distancing rules changed everyone’s plans, so Drake shot the visuals in his own home instead (more on that later). —Eric Skelton
Tough Guy Drake shows up
Even though “Toosie Slide” was made with dance challenges in mind, it doesn’t sound like a typical TikTok song. Outside of the instructional “right foot up, left foot, slide” hook, Drake doesn’t stick closely to the dance theme throughout the rest of the track. Instead, he spends most of his time weaving together oddly specific references to guns (“Two hundred shooters on my brother's block,” “Nike crossbody, got a piece in it”) and even sneaks in a head nod to his head of security (“If I’m movin' shaky, Chubbs'll do this shit himself”). Even the hook seems to play on a double entendre for sliding on someone. As he puts it himself, “Got a dance, but it's really on some street shit.” So, yeah, this is a song that’ll certainly get eaten up by dancing teens across the world, but Aubrey won’t let us forget that we’re still in his Tough Guy Drake era. And honestly, I’m not mad at it. After hearing the Ayo & Tao snippets, I was bracing myself for a corny TikTok soundtrack, but this twist keeps things more bearable for a wide audience outside of the app. —Eric Skelton
OZ is on a hell of a run
OZ and Drake have been on a winning streak for the last few years. In 2018, OZ collaborated with Drake and Travis Scott on “Sicko Mode.” The following year, the Swiss producer worked on “Omertà” and the Grammy-nominated single, “Gold Roses,” a collaboration with Rick Ross. Most recently, he connected with Drake and Future for the smash single “Life Is Good.” Like he does on many of his beats, OZ utilizes a lot of hi-hats and snares on “Toosie Slide.” The kicks, layered with Drake’s melodic chorus, are perfect for dancing. In 2019, OZ told us he had a few major projects up his sleeve. So hopefully we will hear more production from OZ as Drake prepares to release his next studio album. —Jessica McKinney
Drake has a better quarantine setup than any of us
Of course Drake was the first major artist to make a real quarantine music video. The first 30 seconds of the video, which shows Toronto’s hauntingly deserted streets, is documentation of the eerie point in history we find ourselves in right now. But let’s be honest: the rest of the video is just a big excuse for Drake to show off his gaudy new mansion. It’s a big flex. As I humbly type these words from inside my small two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan, I’ll be the first to admit: Drake is riding out this coronavirus quarantine better than any of us (and he didn’t even have to show off his indoor basketball court). He might want to spend more of his quarantine lockdown working on his dance moves, though. —Eric Skelton
It’s going to work
Drake’s calculated mission to make a TikTok anthem might (understandably) rub some people the wrong way. But it’s 100% going to work. Before the song was even out, the pre-release snippet was already going viral on TikTok. And that’s because Drake got everything right. The dance is easy to learn. The hook, which helpfully gives directions to each step, is catchy. And the dance section of the song clocks in at just under 15 seconds—the default length of TikTok videos. Remember what I was saying about Drake’s chess moves? Unparalleled. Of course, it’ll be interesting to see how this one connects on terrestrial radio and other more traditional platforms. The laid-back nature of the song makes it sound like Drake was barely even trying on this one, but that might end up working in his favor. In the pop world, simplicity is best. And considering “Toosie Slide” had a more proper rollout than some of his other recent loosies (there was an announcement that it was coming, a press release, and immediate inclusion on major Spotify and Apple Music playlists) it certainly has lead single energy. If this is the beginning of his album rollout, maybe it’ll arrive in a few months when quarantine is over? —Eric Skelton