Fame is a helluva of a drug.

The transition from obscurity to celebrity is one that few of us will actually experience; yet have witnessed time and time again. Rising to the top of the ladder it’s simply not possible to take everyone along for the ride, no matter how hard some may try, often resulting in bruised egos and fractured friendships as that individual walks a virtual tightrope to avoid being accused of going “Hollywood.”

Shit that’s stressful.

And then there’s Drake. Despite being a native of Toronto he’s consistently credited Houston as the launch pad for his career. You know the story: Jas Prince, a second-generation kingmaker took an interest in the former DeGrassi actor and arranged an introduction with Lil Wayne; the rest was history. Joining a then very green roster at Wayne’s Young Money imprint via a joint deal with Cash Money, following the success of projects like So Far Gone and Take Care he would emerge as the Golden Boy, virtually untouchable on the mic. Sold a few million albums, reset the definition of hit single on the Billboard 100, Drake has turned his life into a version of fantasy camp. And we’ve all sat back and watched it for the past five years.

Which brings us to “Houston Appreciation Weekend.” Now in its second year, the concept of the event was simple: paying homage to the city whose culture has been featured on countless of his flows. Giving credit to the city that first let him shoot his shot. Yet somehow that message has been lost in translation.

During a weekend that featured a well executed appreciation dinner for Bun B and a charity softball game, here in Houston the topic of conversation centered on the perceived exclusion of local artists, who outside of Kirko Bangz, were noticeably absent during from the line-up.

While Houston Appreciation Weekend boasted performances from Future, Fetty Wap and even Louisiana favorite Boosie, others like Travi$ Scott, one of the few from the city to collaborate with Drake, were missing. Scott may be the outlier in all of this, being the only artist who is still relatively new from city limits who’s joined Drake on a track (2015’s “Company”). His own rather sketchy appreciation in the city outside of the youth that constantly show up for his concerts is another story in itself.

In the grand scheme of things, Houston rarely gets the credit that it deserves. From the slow sipping culture to its lyrical heavyweights like Scarface, it’s a region that’s often been noted as just a footnote within the industry. For a new generation of artists including Propain, Maxo Kream, Roosh Williams, Delorean, Doughbeezy, One Hunnidt, Dante Higgins and more, it’s meant competing with what the industry (thinks) they should sound like versus outsiders who have found success by using that very sound.

Oh the irony.

For artists like The Sauce Twinz, who shot to recognition in the city with their infectious “2 Legited 2 Quitted” it’s meant frustration. As many have began to question how Drake can truly “pay homage” without acknowledging the talent already in the city.

For Drake it’s meant being caught between a rock and a hard place. If he doesn’t acknowledge the city he often references, he’s accused of culture stealing. When he does acknowledge it, he’s accused of not showing recognition to the right artists, not planning the proper events, not actually caring about the city he claims to love so much. One constant loop of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

But in reality, even Houstonians can’t seem to agree with who currently leads the pack of new emcees, expecting an outsider to do it is damn near impossible.

With no clear winner in this debate, it seems the biggest lesson to be taken away is the need for unification. At the end of the day, Drake isn’t obligated to do anything other than make music. No more, no less. If Houston wants true appreciation (that it admittedly deserves,) they’ll have to create a platform for themselves to do it.

To be frank; if they won’t let you in the door, build another one.

Photo Cred: Greg Noire