Drake: The Living Legend

Drake performing at the 2015 OVO Fest (Billboard.com)

The 28-year-old Aubrey Graham just wrapped up his 6th annual three-day “OVO Fest” in Toronto, which featured stars such as Outkast, Big Sean and J Cole. The tickets you may ask? Well those sold out in 9 minutes, his album(s) he released this year? Yeah, those both went gold (500,000 sold) within 3 days, and this Aubrey fellow? Well he goes by the name “Drake”.

Since his debut mixtape So Far Gone was released 6 years ago, its safe to say that he has become the Michael Jackson of hip-hop music. In this year alone he has already released two albums and is planning for a third before Christmas. He is by far the biggest act in music next to Taylor Swift and the only rapper to go platinum in 2015 (that is a huge deal in music today). He has garnered attention from all fronts: social media, chart-topping features and songs, SNL appearances, and now he’s the Toronto Raptors team executive, mind you, he’s not even thirty. It’s only right that we look into the illustrious career he has had thus far, after all, “My life is yours to remember.” — Drake

Young Drake:

Drake at the 2009 BET Awards (Bet.com)

Prior to being an artist, Drake started out as an actor. He was featured in over 22 television shows, minis, video games, and movies from 2001–2014. His most well known acting role was as the character “Jimmy” in the Canadian television drama Degrassi of which he was a part of for a number of seasons. Drake’s first priority was music and as result he released his debut mixtape Room For Improvement in 2006. After some media attention from multiple plays on college radio in Canada, he was discovered by Jas prince and Lil Wayne and was also signed to the record label “Young Money” in 2009 under his future mentor Lil Wayne. As a result of this signing, he released what we become a bit of a revolutionary mixtape So Far Gone.

The lead single above, “Best I Ever Had” was Drake’s breakthrough single which was certified 3x platinum and reaching 22 on the billboard 100. This song as well as the sixteen others on the mixtape eventually became the blueprint for the music to come in hip-hop. He was the first artist “to make a mixtape sound like an album”. Today, artist release tons of mixtapes with all new material, but in ’09 it was revolutionary. Since then, many artist have copied that formula in hopes to reach the same feat Drake did.

Developing Drake:

Drake at the 2012 VMA’s (vma.com)

Following his success, he went on tour with Lil Wayne and the road to the top began to take off from there. By the next year, Drake released his first album, Thank Me Later which ended up being extremely successful and garnered a platinum plaque. His second album, Take Care, was viewed as his magnum opus in his discography thus far and was once again a huge landmark in hip-hop music.

“…The record (Marvin’s Room) does play right into the hands of Drake haters who call him “emo” and a “sensitive thug.” But when someone can articulate a common social phenomenon like drunk dialing so well — and make it sodamn catchy — what does it matter? This was easily one of the best R&B songs of the past few years and one of the best 16s…” — Complex magazine

His music was extremely stripped down and emotionally charged, which was a first for anyone in the genre and something fans and critics alike admired. It was almost shocking how a hip-hop artist could be so vulnerable, yet so understandable at the same time, it was a great moment for hip-hop. Two years later Drake began his own record label called October’s Very Own (OVO) and released Nothing Was The Same (NWTS), another great album in his collection. This year alone, he has released two albums. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late which has been his most successful to date, going gold in less than three days, and platinum in less than a month. His latest collaboration was with the artist Future and they released the duo mixtape titled What A Time To Be Alive.

“I’m Not That Drake From Four Years Ago, I’m at a Higher Place”:

Drake has had a huge year thus far in 2015, and this year alone has put him not only as one of the highest paid artists in hip-hop history, but he just broke the record for most the most songs on the billboard 100 at one time with an astounding 18.

There may come a point where one person is just too big, and it’s safe to say he has reached that. Understanding his continuous growth over the years, Drake has always been huge on media, from his Twitter, to Instagram and now even his Soundcloud. Fans are able to get extremely close with Drake as a result. A great example comes from 2013, when Drake promoted and sold his “Would You Like a Tour?” tickets directly through his Twitter page. On his Instagram, he is by far one of the most active users, posting somewhere around four pictures a day keeping his followers aware of his life, and he just passed the 14 million mark around a month ago. His first album of the year “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” was the biggest shock of the year being that it was released with no singles or promotion, much like Beyoncé’s album “Beyoncé” two years prior. This was a great tactic for him to release this by a sudden surprise, and it was because of this that more of his media skyrocketed in popularity mainly because the only way to buy his album was through his media pages.

Drake vs. Meek Mill Beef:

In the summer, a “beef” between he and fellow rapper Meek Mill ensued. On his twitter page, Meek Mill stated on his Twitter

“Stop comparing drake to me too…. He don’t write his own raps! That’s why he ain’t tweet my album because we found out!”

He followed that statement with another tweet saying

“He ain’t even write that verse on my album and if I woulda knew I woulda took it off my album….. I don’t trick my fans! Lol”

Well, this turned out to be a huge mistake on Meek Mill’s part. Being that drake has always been known as a “weak” or “singer-rapper”, he decided to answer back in the conventional way: a diss track. About a week later, on his Soundcloud page, Drake released the song “Charged Up” which gained small response, but after four days, Drake debuted his second diss track “Back to Back” on his Soundcloud as well, and at the OVO Festival. The OVO performance was one of the most humiliating things music has ever seen. It was in this performance that Drake played a slide show of memes fans had created dissing Meek Mill, but he played this slide show while performing the song “Back to Back”, these were some examples of memes.

I remember vividly watching his follower count rise on Soundcloud day by day, as more people would hear this song. My friends and I crowded around my phone to watch the live concert video of drake performing the song for the first time. It was one of best moments of the summer by far. It was an incredible thing to see how social media helped spread that beef between the two artists everywhere. The Today Show, the mayor of Toronto, even President Obama talked about this feud, and it was all started because of social media.

Drake Looking Forward:

It’s hard to tell and analyze how Drake’s fame has come to be what it is, but it is fair to say that the music has consistently gotten him there. It’s rare to look back and understand that our generation has been the first to really watch an artist develop through the years. Each year its almost like Drake can’t get any bigger and he goes to the next level. He is very strategic about what he does from social media, to album releases, even who he works with musically. I can predict his career coming to a close in his mid 30s, only because many artists are starting to move towards business-minded careers rather than music minded careers. but what a legacy he will leave within music, not just for my generation, but for the generations to come.