Even in a year brimming over with massive, landscape-changing hits – 2013 delivered songs like Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” Lorde’s “Royals, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and so many more – Lil Wayne’s “Love Me” stands out as a focused laser-beam of pop rap.
Constructed around one of rap’s most reliable forces, the combination of Wayne, the then-ascendant Future, the prolific producer Mike Will and music’s biggest star, Drake, “Love Me” is a dogpile of radio-ready hooks.
The song begins with Future’s signature warble – “I’m on that good kush and alcohol,” a melodic nugget tailor-made for social media, past, and present. The trio pass the mic around, and the result was a ubiquitous radio hit. While its downtempo nature didn’t necessarily scream “party anthem,” “Love Me” bottles the off-kilter sound of the radio at the time.
Though Future wasn’t the lead artist, “Love Me” represented his biggest turn in the spotlight yet, a notable crossover breakthrough for one of the decade’s most revered artists. Having built a reputation on the strength of multiple genre-shifting trap mixtapes, Future’s pop sensibilities shine on “Love Me.” Though he’d later push nine songs into Billboard’s Top 10 (and 150 tracks featuring Future have entered the Hot 100), “Love Me” established Future as a cross-genre hitmaker.
That’s just the beginning of “Love Me”’s pop appeal. At this point in time, Drake and Wayne could not miss. While Wayne’s peak as a hitmaker was behind him, labels could still bank on his presence and status as a king-maker. As for Drake, he placed 18 songs as a featured artist or a featured guest in the Hot 100 chart in 2013 alone.
Many would attempt to replicate the success of “Love Me” – most notably figures like DJ Khaled, whose coterie cuts emphasized star power over substance – few could reach its heights. “Love Me” was made to be a hit.
For a record tailor-made for the radio, “Love Me”’s legacy will lie in its woozy, almost against-the-grain nature. That downcast, ponderous sound went on to dominate the charts and radio for several years after its release and was mastered by artists like Rihanna, The Weeknd, Tinashe, Ty Dolla Sign, Frank Ocean, Jeremih, and more.