The upcoming release of a new Drake album brings with it the inevitabilities of modern pop culture: Drake going to number one and his songs being mercilessly regurgitated every day on radio and in clubs.
In Drake’s ‘Nothing Was the Same’ he ‘raps’, “This is nothin’ for the radio, but they’ll still play it though / ‘cause it’s that new Drizzy Drake, that’s just the way it go” and he, in his oh-so-humble fashion, has a point. Even Drake himself knows that whatever he will produce will rocket to the number one spot and be played relentlessly.
Toronto’s hip-hop superstar has had 7 consecutive number one albums on the Billboard 200, equalling Eminem and Kanye West for second-most top-charting albums. His album ‘More Life’ from March was streamed around 600 million times in the first week of its release and it broke several records: He set a single-week record for the most charted Hot 100 entries; has the ‘most Hot 100’ entries as a soloist; has the most streams in a single week; the most streams on Spotify; the most streams in a single day on one streaming device and the second largest streaming week ever for an album. Drake’s paramount success is profusely undeniable.
His lyrics are written by others
Some question how justified his position as one of the greatest pop stars of our generation is. His lyrics are written by others – ‘More Life’ had 22 writers, and they rarely contain a plausible depth. When compared to fellow hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar, whose lyrics contain a marathon of racial and social commentary, Drake’s often repetitive shallow lyrics can be laughed: “You used to call me on my cell phone/ Late night when you need my love/ Call me on my cell phone/ Late night when you need my love/ And I know when that hotline bling/ That can only mean one thing/ I know when that hotline bling/That can only mean one thing” (‘Hotline Bling’).
However, his record-breaking statistics and worldwide fame speaks for itself. Although depth of lyrics can be questioned, the catchiness can’t. A product of lyrical engineering with the purpose to encrypt itself in our minds, Drake’s songs will find themselves rolling around endlessly in your head, no matter who you are.
It is no coincidence that the propulsion of Drake’s career has run parallel to the modernisation of pop music. As mentioned in the last issue, Hip Hop within the last few years has gone from being a popular genre of music to becoming a part of the pop genre itself, overtaking Rock’ n’ Roll as the most popular music genre in the USA. The likes of Kanye West, Rihanna, Jay-Z have all had their part to play in paving the way for Drake’s popularity by creating and expanding the size of a potential audience for Drake.
Hip Hop presence is not simply enough to become a superstar though. Alongside infectious lyrics, Drake’s songs commonly have simple, yet beautifully harmonious beats which prove ideal for relaxing and somehow also dancing. Drake’s ‘Passionfruit’ is in the key of B major and producer Nana Rogues’ chord progression creates suspension and never falls flat. The technical ambiguity produces a warm, sensual and euphoric tone similar to any good dance House track. A theme found throughout Drake’s catalogue and a theme which the world has taken to.
His Instagram account has 37.9 million followers and his Twitter, 36.3 million.
The modernisation of pop has also meant the modernisation of pop culture. Before, the biggest artists would only really have PR coverage on everyone’s TV sets performing on shows like ‘Top of the Pops’ and featuring in magazines. Social media is now the PR platform for artists and Drake has utilised this platform to its full potential. His Instagram account has 37.9 million followers and his Twitter, 36.3 million. Not only has this proved as a platform for him to promote his content, but also to become a style figurehead. ‘Stone Island’ and other popular urban brands are commonplace and it has turned him into a fashion icon. Drake also jumped on the recent explosion of the Grime scene to sign on with ‘Boy Better Know’ and make appearances on stage with people like ‘Giggs’. You could argue this is purely because Drake loves Grime, but it seems suspiciously like a stroke of genius piece of PR, it was splashed all over Facebook for millions to see. Not only did this bring him coverage, but further adding to his style element.
An interesting revelation with Drake has been his use of a new style of release strategy. Rather than the commonplace album format, Drake’s records have mostly been released in single, EP format. The huge advantage of doing this is Drake stays current. Unlike other pop stars who release an album and are in the limelight for a couple of months or so then dip off because…well that’s just the music industry, Drake stays constantly fresh on the scene throughout the year because his tunes are constantly injected into the charts. Made possible by the might of streaming services. In terms of the way music is released, Drake (or at least the masterminds behind Drake) is revolutionary.
So, prepare once again to feel the presence of Drake everywhere you go. As of yet, there are minimal details, other than the tune has been leaked courtesy of New York Giants football player Landan Collins and the pictures of him on Instagram in a recording studio. Mysterious. Whether that excites you, or like me makes you tilt your head back and claw your eyeballs out, it is inevitable we’ll all be hearing it.