Figuring out "No New Friends" | Bleader

Figuring out "No New Friends"


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Back in February I predicted that Drake's "Started From the Bottom," which had just entered the charts at number 63, would eventually make it near the top, which it did, peaking at number six a few weeks back. And I guessed that it might stick around long enough to make it into competition for summer jam of the year, which it has, although there is some serious competition.

What I didn't foresee is that the phrase "No New Friends," adapted from the lyrics to the song's breakdown, would become a street phenomenon, inspiring designs from streetwear designers and popping up in mixtape lyrics by other rappers. What I definitely didn't predict is that the slogan would also inspire essentially an entirely new song by Drake, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and hip-hop Illuminati ringmaster DJ Khaled, which currently sits at number 61.

Figuring out exactly what to call "No New Friends" is tough. Although the song's billed as a remix it doesn't quite seem to make sense to call it that—the beat's an almost entirely new creation aside from a looped bit of piano arpeggio from "Started" and a couple of snippets of Drake's original vocal. But it's not a fully independent entity either. Its core concept's lifted straight out of "Started," and there's something about its vaguely elegiac tone that comes straight from the original.

I'm tempted to call it a "sequel," but "companion piece" seems more apt. In geeky sci-fi terms it's sort of like Ender's Shadow versus Ender's Game: a not-as-good work derived from a total jam, and while you don't necessarily need the original to enjoy it, it doesn't quite make sense without it.

Miles Raymer writes about what's on the charts on Tuesday.


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