After thinking about Drake's most viewed MV "Hotline Bling" and its use of work by James Turrell on the “thingness of light itself” (looks like the installation he has at LACMA). The whole scenario is very reminiscent of the early history of the development of quantum physics, particularly with the exploration of what light fundamentally is and also with Drake’s dancing around in the box space. Early physicists were trying to reconcile light’s nature (assumed to be classical and particle-like at the time) with its behavior (often, but not always, wave-like), in particular with its emission from so-called “black-body radiators” (everything naturally glows with a certain spectrum of radiation based on its temperature—this is what you see when a black stove coil glows red with heat). Huge progress was made by formulating a mathematical underpinning of nature that assumed discreet or “quantized” energy states for particles, which allowed particle-like behavior to result from wave-like objects and allowed classical-like phenomena to be based on physics quantized at an extremely small scale. Two of the first excellent advances in the subfield that became known as quantum physics were the studies of light’s nature and the mathematical model of a particle trapped in a box. These two things are the foundation for this piece of artwork. Drake is behaving like a “quantum” particle in a box, and the exploration of “the thingness of light itself” as a backdrop is just too perfect to ignore.

Light was the first entity discovered to exhibit wave-particle duality (that is, it behaves like a particle in some instances and like a wave in others). It is neither describable as only a wave or as only a particle—both classes of behavior are fundamental and inextricable from its behavior. So at the top, “They tryna take the wave from a particle” is a riff on his line in Energy “they tryna take the wave from a nigga”, in this case reinterpreting it as a statement of wave-particle duality, as if arguing against a Classical interpretation of physics, instead of someone trying to take Drake's fame or glory away. This comes from Young’s slit experiments with light, in part.

Then I’ve restated one of the most fundamental mathematical underpinnings of the entire quantum physics approach with reference to Drake’s Hotline Bling. Instead of naming the principle quantum operator (which reveals the possible energies of a quantum system) after a Hamilton (it’s called the Hamiltonian operator), I’ve named it Hotline, and used typical wave bracket notation to show the relationship. The idea is that Drake is using the Hotline to show him what all possible outcomes of this relationship are, and when he sees the Hotline bling, he knows he’s in trouble (his dancing energy is his response, as it seems to be the only way he can get things out, haha). This work is a generalization of the Schrödinger equation.

I then show the solutions to the Hamiltonian on a particle in a simple one-dimensional box (like the box he’s wandering around in, as he seems to mostly go side-to-side), renaming some variables to fit his situation—his dancing energy gets intensified as haters and fake-ass niggas give him trouble, but lessens when he’s doing ok with money and just living his life. (It’s originally 1/8m * (nh/L)^2, with m being mass, n being wavenumber, h being the Planck constant, and L being the length of the box). This work comes from solving the Schrödinger equation for the one-dimensional particle in a box, a canonical thought experiment in quantum physics.

I then took the liberty of relating Drake’s seemingly random movements inside the box to Einstein’s solution to the random walks of small particles, or Brownian motion. It mathematically describes the rate at which particles would be expected to disperse in a system due to random collisions with each other. The original equation shows a density function of position and time relating to a constant D and the variables x (distance) and t (time). I’ve replaced the x with “road” because Drake refers to the girl as “always touching road” basically meaning always getting around. The constant D is now Drizzy—it’s a constant for a particular type of particle: heavier particles disperse more slowly and lighter ones disperse faster. The first moment of the equation shows whether a particle is more likely to go forward or backward (“gunshot” or “lickwood” from his track Energy again), and it happens to be equal to zero, showing that the girl is directionless with what she’s doing. But the second moment of the equation shows her average squared-displacement increasing over time—she’s getting farther away on average in a completely random way. That’s the “how much road she touching”, and it just depends on the constant Drizzy and on time. Drizzy is defined below, which shows how quickly the girl is to move away or fuck around, which is based on her interaction with Drake.

I also did a partial Morse code rhythm analysis of Hotline Bling, and see that the “and I know when that hotline bling” is Morse code for hv, which describes the energy of a photon based on its frequency (E = hv), which may describe why the lights in the background change color as Drake’s energy level changes. I also see that “you used to call me on my cell phone” is Morse code for ihW, which is part of the Hamiltonian (ih*d/dt(Wave)).

Drake makes a comment that his ex-girl is the female version of him, so I’ve set them up as a particle-antiparticle system that annihilates in a burst of light (typically if you throw an electron and its antiparticle counterpart, the positron, together, they annihilate and produce two light photons). Therefore, Drake + his ex-girl = “the thingness of light itself”, which is a metaphor for the entire music video.

I show at the bottom that the Pearson correlation coefficient between “bling” and “thing” is exactly 1, which means that bling and thing are perfectly correlated, hence “I know when that Hotline bling, that can only mean one thing”. He’s using the Hotline bling as a perfect signal of what’s going on with their relationship (I can exactly imagine him scrolling through Instagram on his ex when he wrote this song, haha). If you know enough about someone, it’s really easy to fill in the details behind someone’s stream of pictures.

Overall, I see Drake acting as a particle that was sucked out of the vacuum energy (like becoming famous out of a sea of anonymous people) along with his antiparticle ex-girl. But sometimes such particle-antiparticle pairs drift apart (this is arguably responsible for radiation leaking across the event horizons of black holes), and go their separate random ways. Drake is left (presumably inside that quantum box) randomly wandering first while thinking about the random/Brownian path that his ex-girl is taking through life, drifting not towards him or away from him specifically, but generally getting farther away due to integrated randomness over time. He may have quantum-tunneled his way out of the box (you can see that he’s outside on stairs toward the end) in a fit of random curiosity, but doesn’t see her. His dancing is also attenuated outside the box (the wave-form of tunneled particles is similar in structure but just attenuated), probably because his curiosity was what drove up the emotions inside him and made him dance to get it all out in the first place.

I did a normal mode analysis of his dance moves (it’s a way of analyzing complicated wave behavior by breaking it down into its simplest and orthogonal/unrelated subcomponents). I initially broke it all the way down into all the different individual motion components I saw (first two photos) but then just decided to categorize them into groups to make it simpler (third photo). It was amusing for me watching the video, because his dancing seems to be about 50% merengue, 30% interpretive, and 20% Bollywood, which is an incredibly interesting/odd mix that is probably also responsible for the meme-ification of his dancing in the video online. I’ve written out a total description of the waveform of Hotline bling as a linear sum of component waveforms (this is typical), showing how his dancing is around 20% slow interpretive, 30% slow merengue, 5% slow Bollywood, 15% fast Bollywood, 20% fast merengue, and 10% fast interpretive (in that order of increasing energy levels). Normal mode analysis is totally applicable to dancing (it’s usually used to describe vibrational states of molecules or larger things like drums), and I found this to be an easy extension of quantum theory onto Hotline Bling.