“Those late might drives man, they can get heavy.” Drake, 2015
Drake is dropping Views From The 6 any day now. The "6" being Toronto and his views being whatever he decides to rap or sing about. Its one of the most anticipated albums in rap of recent memory, and it's been teased throughout September up to now, with spoilers, trailers and details pending its release.
This album release is astronomically huge, but hype doesn’t appear out of nowhere. It takes product and that product has got to have content, and boy have we had some good content this year.
On Valentines Day he showed us he truly cares by dropping the brand new mix tape, If You’re Reading This It's Too Late.
In this he invites us inside a few of the worlds that he enjoys occupying from time to time. Turns out he’s a big fan of the Chicago drill scene, referencing Lil mouse and rapping Chief Keefs “Faneto” (essentially Chicago’s rap fans national anthem) at a recent concert. Obviously inspired by the hyper-violent imagery, lifestyle and sound of the area and music, he turned up the hi hat speed on his songs, reduced the keys and rapped like he had never been brought up in an upper middleclass neighbourhood of Toronto. 'Ten bands', 'Energy', 'Know Yourself' and 'No Tellin'’ are an incredibly strong opening foursome of hits.
The second world is one were pretty familiar with: the emotional, unstable and vulnerable Drake. 'You And The 6', 'Now And Forever' and 'Jungle' are the ones to look out for. He kind of sing-raps his way through the songs and when he does rap it feels like he shouldn’t have, like you're listening in on a conversation you weren’t supposed to hear: family matters are personal, but not in Drake's world it seems, and we're used to that. Remember 'Too Much'?
And finally, there's a more subversive, down-tempo world of drunken rooftop parties, miserable last resort calls for sex and nighttime drives. 'Madonna', 'Preach' and 'Company' all capture that world. It seems Drake is unsatisfied with a few aspects of the reality of his own life: not particularly keen on any girl, although he could have any. Bored of parties, although the ones he’s invited to are the best.
As soon as the album ends with '6PM in New York' we leave his worlds behind and are transported back to our own lives. A sample platter of what is yet to come apparently. A recent interview with Fader's 100 issue edition reveals that Drake is somewhat unhappy with the album. He claims they (him and his producer, 40) cut corners and keep referring to it as a "mix-tape" rather than an album. Despite it being his most critically praised and most mature sounding release to date. We dip into these three worlds, explore a life that isn’t ours and explore a variety of emotions places and people.
That’s what makes an album great: variety. Different styles, different flows, different ways to rap or sing. That’s what makes many albums good, take the supposed album of the year- Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. A very varied release. Kendrick raps about, life, love and loss. The black community, himself as an individual, relationships, violence, death and gangs. His rapping style changes pitch tone and tempo all throughout the record and it pays off dividends.
Now there is not doubt that Kendrick Lamar has had an incredible year. To Pimp a Butterfly and Its accompanying singles have gone on to be legendary pieces of hip-hops relatively young timeline. It’s the Highest rated album of the 2010’s according to the www.rateyourmusic.com
But there was a recent poll asking who has had a bigger year, Drake or Kendrick Lamar. In my opinion it's Drake. Whether they released albums of similar quality is a matter of taste. But in my opinion Drakes year has far surpassed Kendrick's. TPAB was always going to be a critics darling. It was almost expected. In reality it’s a bit chin-strokey, a tad too long, the minor bits of poetry in-between tracks offers up the idea that Kendrick can be pretentious and only a couple of songs on the album are noticeable and hit-worthy.
It was like back in the gaming world of 2007 where the two biggest releases of that year were Bioshock and Call of Duty 4 (truly: what a time to be alive). Bioshock won every award and accolade going. It was artistic, inventive, progressive and beautiful. Call Of Duty 4 was a different beast. Cold, brutal and intense, but there was story and it was accessible to everyone.
Which one did you still play months even years after? Which one do people still play? Which became the best selling franchise of all time on planet earth?
Drake, like Call Of Duty, is inescapable. He permeates culture like fog in a city.
This isn’t just braggadocios from a fan, its all backed up with clear and present evidence.
Who’s a meme? How many times has “6 God” been integrated into Twitter bios in some form or another? Who’s clothing line has done deals with Canada Goose and Air Jordan. I’ve heard “I was running through the six with my woes” shouted in the street for no reason. Who transformed into a rap battle king just to squash beef with Meek Mill? Who is the feature king? Who dropped a mix-tape in February that was so good it’s still talked about in December? Who followed it up with a further mix-tape collaboration with Future just to laugh in the face of his competitors? Who created their own Beats 1 radio show/station, OVO sound?
Whose release became the first to go platinum in 2015?
But remember that all of that happened just this year. Just off one mix-tape. Just look at his back catalogue. Yes admittedly some of his album tracks and features are a tad cringey. But the hits are there! Remember 'The Motto' and how YOLO spread like wildfire. 'Marvins Room'? 'Take Care'? 'Worst Behaviour'? '0/100'/
His unreleased stuff holds weight equally, '5AM in Toronto'?
'Started from the bottom' is now a staple of rags to riches stories on American feature websites.
I have attended both a wedding and a bar mitzvah where 'Hold On We're Going Home' has come on and its kicked off.
That doesn’t even count the singles he dropped this summer, which could potentially be on his next album. 'Right Hand is the acceptable-to-listen-to version of Iggy Azaleas 'Fancy'.And whilst, lyrically, 'Back-to-Back' and 'Charged Up' aren’t the most brutal diss tracks of all time, they still won the war this summer against Meek Mill
But my god, we weren’t even ready for the behemoth of meme-ability that was 'Hotline Bling'.
I can’t work out if Drake is a good dancer or the worst I’ve ever seen. Neither can I tell whether or not his fashion taste is inspired or horribly chosen. By October of this year there wasn’t a Vine on planet earth that hadn't used his moves/dresswear as material for comedy. Think it affected him? I doubt it, he reportedly earned $22 Million this year. If I was handed $22 Million dollars I don’t think anything could affect me for the rest of my life ever.
When VFT6 comes out. I hope its good. Like I really really hope its good. His mix-tape I can listen to completely without skipping a track. His hard rap stuff makes me feel I can run through dry wall and come out unscathed. His emotional tracks make me think about calling my ex. Seeing how she is and wishing her well. His late night crooners make me want to down a bottle of Courvoisier and drive through gated residential's, scratching vehicle doors, and calling everyone I know to ask for advice on life before the police come and take me down.
I have faith though. I have faith in that it might be good. It might be bad however. You never can tell. I am sure about one thing though, the 6 God is watching and he killed 2015.
@TheKickPush – Thomas Parslew