hotline bling: impressive english practice from drake’s hypnotic hit

even if u are not a fan of drake‘s music, odds are (probabilities) u will hear hotline bling somewhere between 5 and 500 times in the next few months.

here’s a few things to remember next time it comes on.

drake is nostalgic for an old flame (girlfriend). bling is the sound his cell phone makes and hotline gives the idea of an urgent phone call.

drake owl hoodie
a wistful drake wearing an owl hoodie in the hotline bling video (apple music)

in the line

i know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing

the one thing in this song is sex. drake is wistful (nostalgic) for booty calls (phone calls for sex, usually late night).

drake hotline bling
that can only mean one thing (booty call!!)

the lyric

u used to call me on my cell phone

is one way we know this relationship has ended. used to + verb is used for activities that were common in the past but don’t happen anymore.

u used to call me drake
u used to call me on my cell phone

the line

since i left the city

appears multiple times and the use of since (from that time) indicates that drake is talking about the past as well.

fun english practice 📲 richyrocks english on youtube

some of the things drake’s ex is doing since he left include

running out of pages in your passport
hanging with some girls I’ve never seen before

run out of represents a resource that is diminishing, being reduced. drake wants to say that she is doing a lot of international travelling; the pages in her passport are full. hanging (or hanging out) refers to social time.

running out of pages in your passport drake
this passport is running out of pages (

hotline bling‘s bridge is full of jealous (suspicious, insecure) lines. at 2:55, drake says that these days all he does is

wonder if you’re bendin’ over backwards for someone else
wonder if you’re rolling up a backwoods for someone else
doing things I taught you, gettin’ nasty for someone else

bend over backwards is an expression that means strongly trying to impress someone, which is the idea here, but it also can be taken literally to mean that physically and sexually she is bending over backwards for someone other than drake. drake wonders (thinks about) who someone else might be.  gettin nasty is sex; maybe crazy, experimental sex.

rihanna bending over backwards drake
rihanna bending over backwards in vogue magazine. 

rolling up a backwoods is a reference to smoking marijuana, an activity drake and his ex enjoyed. backwoods is a brand of cigars. the tobacoo in the backwoods cigar is removed and the cigar’s paper is filled with weed (marijuana) and then rolled up into the form of a cigar again. the phrase works well in the lyrics because backwoods sounds like backwards from the previous line.

backwoods smokes drake rolling up a backwoods drake

rolling up a backwoods

in a few different places in this song, drake gets a little preachy (judgmental, moralizing). for example, listen at 3:15

used to always stay at home, be a good girl
u was in the zone, yeah
u should just be yourself
right now, you’re someone else

in the zone as drake uses it on this track, means really good. it can also mean performing perfectly. this kia commercial featuring la clippers power forward blake griffin presents an abstract representation of being in the zone.

the guy driving the car in the ad asks blake if he is just chillin out, which means relaxing. chilling (chillin) out is sometimes interchangeable with hangin out.

if u think drake doesn’t have any business telling an old girlfriend how to act, then this version of the song by ceresia is for u; more or less the same song, but from a female perspective.

are u a drake fan? do u like this song? what other vocabulary in the song is new to u? share your observations under leave a reply


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