You know you just said “bottom.” You probably have also said at least once before “YOLO,” “HYFR.”
You also probably know who popularized “YOLO,” among a slew of other sayings. Aubrey Drake Graham, the 28 year old multimillionaire megastar rapper who changed the rap game.
He certainly was “25 sittin’ on 25 mill’.” Despite what you think of Drake, he is a prolific artist with a Grammy for his 2011 sophomore album Take Care, and holds 72 appearances on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles, surpassing The Beatles’ and a long list of other rappers.
Over time, the mere mention of “Drake” has incited snickers and laughter as people sing the wistful and melancholic lyrics of “Shot for Me” and “Marvin’s Room,” pretending to cry at the truthfulness of Drake’s lyrics.
In his song Fear, Drake said “The honesty of my music has left me too exposed.” In many ways, Drake’s gloomy sentiments are legitimate. However, unlike any other underground/mainstream rap artists, he became the first to delve into life struggles with his unique style of singing and rapping with lyrics that appeal to many people.
His work features the recurring archetype of female woes, “daddy issues,” his OVO (October’s Very Own) crew, and his mother’s rebounding health.
That familiarity with teens, young adults, and generally those under 40 has propelled him to be king of the rap game.
WOAH. OH NO. I JUST SAID “KING OF THE RAP GAME.” I await the glares and controversy regarding this declaration.
Just two weeks ago, Drake unexpectedly released his new mixtape If You’re Reading This Its Too Late. Instantly, Twitter went berserk as people virtually trampled over each other to listen to his songs. Much like Beyonce’s unexpected self-titled album, Drake sold nearly 500,000 units in his first week of sales.
Drake often releases songs for free on his OVO SoundCloud page. Without even actively advertising one of his hit songs, “How ‘Bout Now,” it found itself on the radio, and debuted on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. Other rappers struggle to get their official singles on the charts. But Drake is not like other rappers.
Consider Drake’s two biggest hits last year: “0 to 100/The Catch Up,” and “Trophies.” Unless you’re living under a rock, these songs have become staples of club goers and ubiquitous to the general public. Both songs were released on his SoundCloud page for free. Drake did not interview to promote these songs. All he did was let the public know that they existed by posting the songs online. Overnight, the songs became hits and generated their own buzz.
In fact, “Trophies” did not become an official single until months later after the song was immensely popular when Young Money released their album “Rise of an Empire.”
Drake’s popularity is not contained to just him. Drake’s “Midas” touch has boosted the careers of iLOVEMAKONNEN, singer of hit song “Tuesday,” Soulja Boy, Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, and more.
When others were unwilling to give Kendrick Lamar an opportunity, Drake featured him on his song “Buried Alive Interlude” from Take Care. Kendrick has become more popular since then for his abrasive and thought-provoking lyrics.
Last year, Drake put his own spin on Soulja Boy’s “Try Me.” The mere notion that Drake was considering the remix this song into what would become “We Made It” was probably worth thousands of dollars. His actual remix of this song was worth much more when he posted it on his SoundCloud page.
Soulja Boy has been declining in popularity since his “Golden Age” of “Crank Dat,” however he got his first taste of being on the radio for years because of Drake’s “We Made It.”
Drake’s power is undeniable and quite influential. They recently partnered in a national tour called “Drake vs. Lil Wayne,” hosting a unique “Street Fighter” Capcom theme. This was a highly interactive tour, as concert goers downloaded an app to vote for which artist would rap first, and who “beat” the other in the end.
Lil Wayne’s legacy is truly remarkable, however after putting in more effort to make his Young Money artists shine, his own influence on the “rap game” is steadily declining.
In Lil Wayne’s hit song “Believe Me,” his voice isn’t even heard until a minute and 41 seconds into the song. Drake rapped his verse once and hook twice before Wayne spoke. Hearing the song for the first time, I thought it was Drake’s single. Is it a coincidence that this song was released on Drake’s SoundCloud first before Lil Wayne took ownership? I think not.
Drake never really disappears between albums. He releases music at strategic points so there’s never a “Drake drought.” Especially with 17 unexpected songs released recently, fans are drowning in the rap czar’s music. Many rappers can learn from Drake’s strategy at attaining mass fame, but “Rap must be changing ‘cuz [I’m] at the top and ain’t no one on top of [me].”
All we know for certain is that Drake is out enjoying life singing “We Made It.” After all, if you had his fame and wealth, wouldn’t you?