What Makes Drake So Popular?
Drake is a legend in the Music industry. There seemingly isn’t any corner of the World that doesn’t know his name or know a song of his. He’s dominated nearly dominated a decade of airwave time and seems to be in his prime more than ever with the most recent “Scary Hours” single which included the track “Diplomatic Immunity” and now the chart-topping hit “God’s Plan” which is seemingly breaking records. The video, which he released yesterday, has received overwhelming praise and went viral in a matter of hours (29 million as of writing this). Even in 2013, Drizzy was commenting on his ubiquity on songs like ‘Tuscan Leather’ with lyrics like “This ain’t for the radio, but they’ll still play it though, because it’s just the new Drizzy Drake, that’s just the way it goes.” So what is it that makes Drake Hip-Hop’s golden boy? Well in order to answer this question, Uncharted looked at 3 reasons why Drake continues his reign of the industry, and what it means to the music game overall
1.) Likable, Yet Cutthroat
Drake was never really seen as a “Gangster Rap” figure. Contrary to hip-hop artists of the early 2000’s, like 50 Cent or DMX, Drake came on the scene with a pretty clean background, almost to a jarring degree. Nice guy, no real criminal activity to boast about as was common in songs of the day, and was played a wheelchair-bound character on a show with a target audience of middle schoolers. This, at first, was a turn off for some who found his music enjoyable, especially in an industry so driven by reputation where authenticity and the rawness of street culture are so highly valued. That being said, what made hardcore hip-hop fans criticize drake made him more appealing to a broader fan base. The clean-cut, Lil’ Wayne Protege’came through with a soft, albeit charming personality that was more approachable than the standard tough-guy rap persona, all while dropping some impressive bars that related to people of all different backgrounds.
Even those who criticized Drake for his lack of aggression were soon forced to check their statements after the Six God came out victorious after some high profile beef, including with Chris Brown and Common. Most notable among these conflicts was the 2015 spat with Meek Mill, in which Drake released two diss tracks in with-in 48 hours before Meek could even respond. Adding insult to injury, the second track “Back-to-Back” even was nominated for a Grammy, becoming possibly the first battle rap track to receive a Grammy Nod. This why in a realm where Kings are either Feared or Loved, Drake has worked through the game in such a way he doesn’t have to choose.
2.) Versatility in the Mainstream
While Drake’s persona may be what makes him a Pop-culture Icon, his music is what has kept him relevant for all these years. No matter what genre of music you like, there is a chance you have a favorite Drake song or Album. From the radio to the underground, Drake has it on lock. So much so, that you could hardly check your IG without seeing a lyric from the latest drake track.
This is primarily because Drake has the ability to shine in any musical scenario. Whether it’s a straightforward, bare-knuckled flow on the 2010 track “Forever”; a reserved, yet cocky attitude on the 2013 hit “Started from the bottom”; to the dance hall ballads of the 2016 chart-topper “One Dance”, Drake manages to have something for everyone.
Unlike standard Pop, Hip-Hop, or other contemporary Artists, Drake gained success by moving out of what his core fan base like, to make music he enjoyed. You see this on the track “Find your love” on his Debut “Thank Me Later” Album. Up until that point, Drake had been known as lyricist following in the footsteps of his YMCMB mentor, Lil’ Wayne. No one expected a song from a self-proclaimed rapper to do very well. But after the track and video were released, the track was an instant hit and was played in every club, wedding, school dance, or homecoming parade that year. Drake also showed that an artists' vocal ability is not critical in developing a hit Pop/R&B song.
It is for this reason that it is no longer enough to be just a rapper in the industry today. While there may be value to battle-rap/spitter-type artists in the industry, those with staying power have had to incorporate different genres and vocals into their work. You can see this in hip-hop artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Migos, and even Chris Brown; who has resorted to rapping more since 2011.
3.) Party in the Front, Business Everywhere else
Every rapper brags about his or her own wealth in their songs. Hip-Hop has always been an art that recognizes status, and to recognize your own is crucial. While Drake is no different, it’s important to point out just how wealthy Drake is compared to his contemporaries. According to Forbes, Drake is worth an estimated $90 Million. Only Diddy, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, and Birdman beat him out and Birdman really only maintains such money because Drake, Nicki Minaj, and little Wayne are technically still signed to ‘Cash Money’ label.
Drake has found out like Jay-Z, Diddy, Dr. Dre, and 50 Cent, that real money is not in the music industry. Drake has made a good portion of his money on albums and tours, no question. In fact, the 2016 record ‘Views’ was the first album to hit a billion streams on Apple music (Which made him about 6.4 million dollars). He averaged about 1 million a day on tour, as well. But this is nothing compared to his deals with the likes of Nike, Apple, Sprite, AT & T, Virginia Black, Tom Ford and the list goes on and on.
Why does getting richer add to his popularity? Well, that act in and of itself doesn’t, but deals like this not only allow give him the money to appear in ads that make him more popular but garnering such money allows him to incur such charitable expenses that give him a good image. The nearly million dollars Drake and his team received to make the video could have easily been pocketed, at least in part, and Drake would have been none the lesser for it. But Drizzy is looking to be a legend amongst Men. So he literally filmed himself giving all that money away. You could argue this exploitative, but at the end of the day, Drake is the winner yet again.