Drake loves Texas’s biggest city, and he’s never been shy about it. During the Houston stop of his inaugural tour in 2010, he vowed to “rep Houston till the day [he] dies.” His 2013 album Nothing Was The Same was full of references to the city. He’s hosted “Houston Appreciation Weekend” events in H-Town since 2014. (Houston returned the love that year, declaring “Drake Day” that June.) Just this summer, he kicked off his summer tour in Austin shortly after enjoying a traditional Texas delicacy at, er, a Houston-area Cheesecake Factory.
Drake explained his relationship to Houston to a bunch of young Astros fans at Minute Maid Park in 2014. “It’s where I birthed my entire career,” he said. “I have it tattooed on my skin, and in my heart. It’s just a culture that doesn’t exist anywhere else that exists here. It’s about how proud people are to be from Houston.”
The relationship between Drake and H-Town intensified over the weekend. He showed the University of Houston Cougars some love following their triumph over Oklahoma on Saturday by wearing quarterback Greg Ward Jr.’s jersey onstage during his performance at the Toyota Center. But what happened after the show cemented Drake’s efforts to claim Houston for himself. On Sunday, Drake announced a mysterious event called “The Ballet,” which he promised would be “here to stay” after a four-hour announcement at Warehouse Live.
At the event on Monday, Drake revealed that this Ballet will not involve slippers and tutus: It’s a
strip club “new dance experience” he’s opening in Houston early next year. On Instagram, Drake implored Houstonians to “treat yourself don’t cheat yourself” as they anticipate the opportunity to visit a venue “where the women are on a pedestal and the surroundings are unforgettable.” (It’s unclear at press time whether those marketing jingles were ghostwritten or not.)
Drake insisted at the event that The Ballet is not a strip club, and he seems fond of the phrase “new dance experience” to describe the venue. From the DJ booth, Drake explained that Houston has a culture of “dancing and it’s not about no strip club shit” while women in thongs danced with the aid of floor-to-ceiling poles as props. “It’s about these amazing women that we’ve got in one spot, this music we’ve got, this Houston culture that we got. And I just wanna let you know that, me, I’m going to bring it to you in the most honest and genuine way possible.”
All of that is well and good, but also, The Ballet sure does seem like a strip club. That’s fine, of course! Except that Drake is essentially opening a strip club and pretending that it’s not a strip club. Should the “amazing women” who work in places that are, in fact, on some “strip club shit” feel bad that they’re not working in a “new dance experience” instead?
Drake promises that his venue will be “classy,” which we’re going to assume is a code word for “expensive,” because the alternative to that is that Drake is taking a shot at the other strip clubs in Houston. That’d be weird for Houston’s number one fan, but it also wouldn’t be the first time that Drake offended the Houstonians he professes to love. Last year, Drake found himself embroiled in a beef with Sauce Walka of the Houston rap duo the Sauce Twinz after Walka accused him of appropriating the city’s culture and aesthetic without giving back outside of “a family fun day and some money” to women in the strip clubs Drake would visit while touring through the city. On the song “Wack2Wack,” which Walka released last fall (the title references Drake’s “Back To Back”), he made his feelings about Rihanna’s boyfriend clear:
Started living in the city, seeing how we livin’
Seeing how the flavor is, seeing how we spillin’
Thinking I’m in H-Town, what a good feeling
Yeah it’s cool to show love, but it’s different when you’re stealing
The Sauce Twinz haven’t weighed in on The Ballet, but we’ll assume that they’re not excited about it. Regardless, Drake’s strip-club-that-isn’t-a-strip club should be open within six months, which should give Houston rappers with an axe to grind some additional ammo for dissing Drizzy Drake. Good luck to everybody!