Domination is the word to describe the year Drake is having. He has officially become a conqueror, hip-hop’s Julius Caesar, even the Ides of Meek couldn’t end his reign. Best rapper is a title we can debate but most popular isn’t. Drizzy is completely unrivaled, commercially eclipsing any and every one. Month after month, day after day, Drake is at the tip of every tongue, tweeted about by every thumb, every move and release seems to be made with the thoughtful calculation of a chess master. The two mixtapes (IYRTITL and WATTBA), OVO Sound Radio, the remixes, even the beef with Meek were strategic maneuvers building up for a grandiose checkmate, Views From The Six. He first announced the title in July of 2014, since then he has been in overdrive with branding and solidifying a demand that guarantees a fruitful commercial success. The people see Views From The Six as the album that will be the undisputed classic, his magnum opus, the Mona Lisa of his catalog. Even after devouring the mixtapes, people haven’t once forgot about Views, no matter how good the appetizers, there’s always enough room for the main course.
Distraction is another word to describe the year that Drake is having. He has perfectly kept our attention averted from a very possible truth - Views From The Six isn’t coming soon. Who would keep Drake from releasing his biggest album yet? The same person that kept Lil Wayne from releasing Tha Carter V, the same person that kept Tyga from releasing The Gold Album. Birdman. When Wayne confessed to Twitter that he was a prisoner of the label it revealed an internal conflict that was unseen by the public. We were under the impression that the final Carter installment was simply unfinished, or that the label was searching for a bigger single, in reality it was a much deeper issue.
Once the lawsuit reached the public eye it revealed many surprising details, accusations of deep corruption, Wayne even accused Birdman of purposefully and unjustly blocking Young Money releases, and let's not forget, Drake's never known a label but Young Money. It's a massive issue that Drake has largely kept quiet on. Short of a couple sub-disses on songs, Drake hasn’t said much about what has to be an enormous weight on his shoulders, the dissolution and strife enveloping his label. The only interview I can recall at all is Drake’s Beats 1 interview with Zane Lowe (that truly told us nothing) and Ernest Baker’s article that covered him headlining Coachella (again, nothing). Drake has almost been completely silent about Views and his perspective on the label. He's been letting the music speak, but it hasn't told us much.
I’ve been speculating for months that IYRTITL is an album disguised as a mixtape used to help Drake escape his contracted obligations with Cash Money. The announcement of the What A Time To Be Alive collaboration with Future was met with the same speculation. The music didn’t sound like two minds conjoining to create music but a Future album that included Drake features. Once again Drake created an event that was large enough to sell albums, extend his reign of popularity and be one step closer to freedom from Birdman’s talons. I’m almost certain that he doesn’t want Cash Money getting a dime from Views From The Six. The problem is, Cash Money has to agree on what is considered an “official” album release.
Birdman has always been the music industry’s most evil supervillain, the kind of malicious man to tour with a shark bus full of ex-convicts, the kind of greedy tyrant that demands receipts from McDonalds to ensure all his change is returned, to be fair and show mercy is not in his coding. Drake is nothing but a cash cow to him. In retrospect it was a bit naïve of me to believe that Birdman would accept these half-projects as albums that could fulfill Drake’s contracted obligations. He would likely rather force Drake into a lawsuit situation, one that he could draw out for years, forcing Drake to fold or meet his demands. If he did it to Lil Wayne, why wouldn't he do it to Drake? Especially now that their relationship is so much worse. It’s all about power and control and once you are under contract, Birdman's the game's most powerful controller.
Birdman proved he would attempt to replace Wayne with a doppelganger before ever releasing Tha Carter V. What if Rich Homie Quan was meant to replace Drake the same way Thug was meant to be Wayne? Quan has proven he can make hits and kill hooks, it’s possible that Rich Gang’s purpose was to fill the void left by Wayne and Drake that Birdman saw coming? Except, Birdman lost both of his prospects before he could get them on papers. His only option is to take his expertise of the courtroom, a place he’s visited so often I consider it a home court advantage for him. Not only is Wayne unable to release his long-awaited album, he wasn’t able to sustain momentum with the releases of Sorry For The Wait and The Free Weezy Album. Seeing Wayne reduced to just another artist unable to get his album release killed so much of his mystique. Birdman went from treating him like a son to how 50 Cent treated Young Buck, shackled to the paperwork. Imagine a world where Lil Wayne couldn’t release Tha Carter III, the biggest moment of his career wouldn’t exist. That’s what Views From The Six could be for Drake, that’s what could be holding him back.
It’s impressive that Drake hasn't folded under the pressure, the collapse of Cash Money forced him to make moves for relevance. Popularity is his Excalibur, if he loses the sword, he loses his dominance. He has yet to crack, moving like the all-powerful god he portrays himself to be. Perfecting the art of wave riding is keeping Drake walking on water. Future is the perfect example, Drake is the sole feature on DS2. Future was having the year of his career, the all-seeing 6ix God positioned himself with a flourishing star that had a similar hold on the internet. Their collaboration was meant to be a huge event, two stars colliding to create a sun that we couldn’t help but stare at, not really the second coming of the Throne. All it took was a few rumors and an Instagram post to create promotion. Even the artwork looked effortless. Drake literally did next to nothing. The way he handled Meek was also a strategic assault that was more about keeping Drake afloat than drowning his adversary. The wrong challenger approached, I’m sure his team concocted a perfect rollout that could work with the upcoming OVO Fest. From the lyrics to the shirts to radio play to the memes, it was like Dan Hibiki challenged Ken Masters to a street fight.
All the new music allowed Drake to have a successful festival tour run. While people might miss his more lyrical content, his new style was perfect for live crowds, easily digestible lyrics you couldn’t help but quote. Online or on the road, he couldn’t lose. He's admitted twice that he has taken a break from Views From The Six, at the end of “Back to Back” and in Atlanta when he announced the Future collaboration. He also told Zane that it was unfinished. That baffles me, finishing Views should be a top priority. If these mixtape-albums can move 500K, imagine the possibilities of a full length?
Unless, of course, these “breaks” are necessary, if he couldn't release Views right now even if he wanted to. Drake can’t afford to disappear into a courtroom so he drops a surprise album full of shallow bangers. He teams up with Apple Music, OVO Sound is the weekly reminder. He works with bubbling artists to be a part of their moment. He enters a beef he is guaranteed to win. All to keep up this illusion that he’s doing what he pleases, that the label has no control, but the reality could very well be that Birdman is doing nothing but collecting checks and prolonging his escape. OVO signing a partnership deal with Warner Bros back in 2012 should’ve told us that Drake never trusted his own imprint under the Cash Money umbrella.
This is all speculation, there’s plenty of theories and conspiracies that can be made about Drake and his relationship with Cash Money. Before, I completely underestimated the greed and maliciousness of Birdman. Now I realize he has the heart of Voldemort and would rot away in Azkaban before allowing Drake or Wayne to walk away with ease. Revisit the lawsuit, remind yourself of all the money he allegedly stole and all the obligations he didn’t meet. There’s a very real anticipation that surrounds Views From The Six, from fans to critics, this album has been shaped into a defining moment for the biggest music artist in the world. Behind the scenes is where it all unfolds, the lies are told, the knives are impaled, albums are left rotting on shelves. This is the music industry, Drake with all his power, money, and influence isn’t above becoming a victim to the system, although looking like he's in complete control in the midst of chaos may be his most impressive accomplishment yet.
Let us pray that his faith isn’t the same as Caesars.