For some folks, Drake couldn’t do any more to solidify his place as the feminist heartthrob of the rap scene. But then he pulled out the music video for his latest single, “Nice for What” — a powerful piece for kickass women in the entertainment industry.
Olivia Wilde, Misty Copeland, Issa Rae, Rashida Jones, Jourdan Dunn, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tiffany Haddish, Yara Shahidi, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth and Victoria Lejonhjärta, Letitia Wright, Bria Vinaite, Syd, Emma Roberts and Michelle Rodriguez — these are the names of all the women who made an appearance in “Nice for What.” To top it off, the video was directed by 22-year-old Karena Evans.
A Canada native like Drake, Evans has been blowing up in the past few months. She was the directorial powerhouse behind Drake’s “God’s Plan” music video that came out in February, and she became the first woman to win the Lipsett Award, a huge honor in music video directing.
Admittedly, “God’s Plan,” although beautifully directed, hit viewers over the head with Drake’s “nice-guy” image. It was so easy to meme that people began playing the video backward — creating a series of clips in which Drake steals money from poor people and laughs.
But in “Nice for What,” Evans and Drake strike the perfect balance of empowerment and artistry. At every turn, “Nice for What” exudes a sultry and empowering aura of feminine greatness.
First of all, the song carries a sample of Lauryn Hill’s 1998 song “Ex-Factor.” Hill’s powerful vocals carry Drake’s lyrics as they play underneath a montage of women being straight-up bosses.
Additionally, Evans showcases masterful directorial chops, displaying an eye for captivating cinematography. The shot of Tracee Ellis Ross shining in a cascading silver sequined gown. Rashida Jones smizing in the back of car brimming with city lights. Jourdan Dunn on horseback side-eyeing the camera. Michelle Rodriguez floating against a tangerine sky. These are only a few beautifully composed scenes that rain down on this music video.
What makes this music video such an important piece of work is that it’s not just performative wokeness. In recent years, several artists and companies have hopped on the activist train because that’s what’s been selling. With “Nice for What,” Drake’s song isn’t so much about him being a sensitive, feminist, nice guy. It’s more about the women who have supported this rise to success. It’s not just a bunch of beautiful women walking around; it’s a celebration of the accomplished women who have thrived in entertainment. And it’s backed by a powerful female vocalist. And it’s directed by a rising young female director. Damn.
In “Nice for What,” Drake surrounds himself with queens in a moment that will go down in rap history.
Annalise Kamegawa covers music. Contact her at [email protected].