Drake: Far From Over?

Nas claimed that hip-hop was dead; Jay-Z murdered auto-tune.  Now Aubrey “Drake” Graham is trying to breathe new life into the rap game and perhaps become the Jesus Christ Superstar of a genre in dire need of a resurrection.  Though the feat seems possible, there is one thing standing in his way—the hype that once surrounded the Toronto-born rapper seems to be dwindling rapidly, leaving many industry insiders and consumers alike wondering whether or not the young buck has what it takes to succeed or if his career is simply not that far from being over.

“Money just changed everything, I wonder how life without it would go
From the concrete who knew that a flower would grow
Lookin’ down from the top and it’s crowded below
My fifteen minutes started an hour ago” (from Fireworks)

When Drake catapulted onto the international music scene in 2009, it seemed that everyone and their grandma stood at attention in anticipation of what he would do next.  Not since Eminem dropped The Slim Shady LP and turned Hip-hop on its head, or even since Kanye put President Bush in check, has a hip-hop artist commanded so much attention.  However, the hype that seemed synonymous with anything the lyricist touched less than a year ago has yet to be matched in 2010.  With his debut album Thank me later slated to be released next month, Drake seems to have hit a stumbling block, which could mean the difference between superstar  status and the less flattering title of ultimate flop. 

Though Drake has a huge fan base, which in almost any situation, would foretell of sales dominance, his case is anything but usual.  As Drake mentions in a verse from The Winner, his fan base consists mainly of individuals who can’t even vote.  This being said, it is a known fact that with the abundance of downloading sites, and other outlets where the simple click of a button yields “free” media, kids simply don’t buy records. 

For record execs behind the scenes, Thank Me Later acquiring multi-platinum status might simply mean nothing more than money in their already over-flowing pockets.  However, when you look beyond the world of the rich and famous and past all that glitters, it dawns on you that there is far more riding on Drake’s success than that which meets the eye.  One place where this remains to be self-evident is back in Drake’s hometown of Toronto, where both established and up-and-coming artists are rooting for the hometown hero.  They know that his success means that perhaps they too, can transcend some of the boundaries that prevent many Canadian hip-hop artists from achieving international acclaim.

When Drake’s record drops, will he rep his city and put other unknown artists on the map, or will Toronto still be known abroad more for its bone-chilling winters and over-usage of the word “eh” than it is for producing ground-breaking talent?  When June 15 arrives, none of the hype, the special appearances or accolades will matter.  The only thing that will be examined is sales—the definitive measure of whether or not an artist has truly arrived in the sometimes dog-eat-dog world that is the music industry. 

While some artists would be rather content with underground success and less than mediocre album sales in a time when records just aren’t selling like they used to, Drake more than anyone, knows just how much is riding on his imminent success. Whether he’s the rapper you love to hate or the one you try to emulate, one thing is certain—the time has come for Drake to show and prove.

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Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit is the editor of Parlé Magazine. He founded the magazine while in college and continues to run it today. Follow him on IG: @parlewithme Read more articles by Kevin.

Kevin Benoit has 1788 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin Benoit

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