Arts·Sounds Like Summer

'I don't feel the same': Drake's Summer's Over Interlude and a melancholic end to the season

What does summer sound like to you? For Amani Bin Shikhan, it's captured in the interlude as Toronto moves on.

What does summer sound like to you? For Amani Bin Shikhan, it's captured in the interlude as Toronto moves on

The last hot, hazy days of August warrant a look back — a look at what made summer what it is, or maybe what it once was and what it could have been. For our essay series Sounds Like Summer, we asked writers to reminisce about specific moments, reflect on feelings about the season's immense pull over us and conjure up the sounds associated — musical and otherwise. Summer's nearly over, but the reverberation of a particular mood remains.

Wrap it up, folks: summer's over. While the air may very well be balmy for months to come, the infectious joie de vivre of peak summer is gone. For the people of my Toronto, that climax falls at the end of the long weekend that hinges July to August, affectionately dubbed Caribana weekend. Since 2010, it's also been the weekend that marks Drake's homecoming in a lavish extravaganza called OVO Fest.

Last year, I attended my first one. (For those who don't know: tickets are notoriously difficult to secure and the influx of out-of-towners makes it a golden ticket-type beat.) A few months off the feet of his Boy Meets World tour — which featured Toronto artists Puffy Lz, Pressa and the late Smoke Dawg — the Boy landed back in the city and put on a show. It was a seamless production, as expected. But sitting in the crowd and taking in the sights, something was off or had changed. As a fur-laced Cardi B, a raucous Travis Scott and the energetic duo known as Rae Sremmurd took the stage, a realization washed over me. Now, Drake was peerless. And with that comes some distance.

This summer, along with a whole host of other dampeners that suffocated the city's hot-and-sticky season, there was no OVO Fest. In its place, Drake and two-thirds of Migos performed back-to-back shows in the city. "Toronto, I'm forever yours," he vaguely, even if earnestly, proclaimed as he closed out the glitzy concert. And just like that, he disappeared again.


 

Views, controversies aside, is a cornerstone album for Drake. Where later projects — More Life, Scorpion — would stumble, catch themselves, then stumble again to match the careful balance of emotive confession and opaque candour, 2016's Views harnessed the two worlds and made it make sense. Yet it is "Summer's Over Interlude," sung by Majid Al-Maskati of OVO's Majid Jordan, that is an album highlight. In many ways, it achieves what eludes Drake: the technical singing, conciseness without forfeit; a deep, visceral feeling, simple and plain. "Days in the sun / And nights in the rain," sings Majid. "Anywhere I go / I can't help but show / I don't feel the same."

At once, the interlude is mournful and free (or trying to break free) and bitter. What was meant to serve as a bridge on the album was actually the breaking of its chrysalis. Where Views was an offering soured by the nostalgia that eventually consumed it, "Summer's Over Interlude" made its disaffection clear. Somewhere in between days in the sun and nights in the rain, there was a shift; irreversible, uncontainable.

• • •

To be a Torontonian — homegrown and from-here, from-here — is to be prideful about where you come from. Our summers are the best. Our food, our music, our culture. Our everything. Our "us." It's a sentiment I've been guilty of perpetuating and probably still do from time to time — sometimes regretfully, other times not-so-regretfully. It's also something that errs on the side of dishonest when life in the city becomes its own suffering. This is true after any summer, but especially rings true for this one. That balancing act is no easy thing. So, in the interest of being honest: I don't feel the same. For the first time, I feel clear-eyed. And with that, I don't feel the same.

• • •

In What We All Long For, Dionne Brand explains the seasons. She calls winter "inevitable, sometimes unforgiving." "Have you ever smelled this city at the beginning of spring?," she writes of the teasing, blooming months. "Dead winter circling still, it smells of eagerness and embarrassment and, most of all, longing. Garbage, buried under snow banks for months, gradually reappears like old habits — plastic bags, pop cans — the alleyways are cluttered in a mess of bottles and old shoes and thrown-away beds. People look as if they're unravelling. They're on their last nerves. They're suddenly eager for human touch."

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Brand finds inspiration in a summer sunset, caught in the reflection of her car's rearview mirror. "That was the first time the idea struck me as to what might be the opening," she said of Love Enough, her 2014 novel on the feeling. "It struck me that that was the perfect metaphor. It's a metaphor for so much. For looking back to see something beautiful — both [behind] you, where you're not looking, but also in the past."

August, to me, has always felt like one long Sunday. A month of embraced haziness and final drops of heat-made condensation on windows, cupped glasses. A month that marks the end of some great moment, no matter how elusive that thing may be. How long till the sun has its fill? How long till we're fatigued by its rays? My entire life, it's been bittersweet, this month of August.

Every summer, I plead with the sun. Push it till autumn is undeniable. But these days and in this place, I don't feel the same.

About the Author

Amani Bin Shikhan is a music and culture writer and researcher from Toronto’s east end with a particular focus on diaspora, memory, and narrative-building. She’s also the director of ‘where now?,’ a documentary series about placemaking in Toronto.