There are many things you could call Drake and they'd all be accurate. A revolutionary trendsetter and a borrower of cultures, a ghostwriter-employer and an emerging business giant, narcissistic and rap's most relatable figure, he plays every role with the confidence of a natural born actor. But one thing that we cannot call Drake is a fad, a trend, even though some continue to try in the same way that some continue to insist the Earth is flat.
Drake's now released six albums spanning six years, and all of them have gone Platinum. All...of...them, most multi-platinum. He's got more Top 100 hits than The Beatles, has global corporations from Apple to T-Mobile buddying up to him, and is flat-out capable of generating more hype on the internet more quickly than any other artist in hip-hop, a critical statistic in the year of our Lord 2016 and one I can personally attest to witnessing. There's Kendrick, there's J. Cole. There's Kanye and JAY-Z and the ever more reclusive Eminem, all superstars, but none the day in, day out supernova that is Drake.
In September of 2015, Fader wrote their Peak Drake profile, asking if we were witnessing the highest height of Aubrey's ascension. In retrospect, he wasn't even close to peaking. Compared to where he stands now, on the verge of releasing his Views album later this month (assuming no leaks in the OVO plumbing appear first), he was only just getting into the parking garage elevator in 2015. Over the last year and change alone Drake has released two platinum albums, turned a rap "beef" with Meek Mill into a master class in maneuvering in the digital age and turned even loose tracks like "Back to Back" and "Hotline Bling" into cultural and commercial forces. Drake's on the kind of unstoppable roll right now that even avalanches are jealous of.
But his current hot streak will come to an end, the peak will be summit-ed and then descended. From emperor to queen to president, rock star to movie star to rap star, the slow fade of history happens to them all. The top is made to be reached, not lived at, and even for those who never fall there will by definition still be a peak, an apex, one window in time when they were at the absolute height of their powers. JAY-Z hasn't exactly done too shabby for himself in the last few years, he's planking on more millions than ever right next to his global icon wife, but he'll never matter again on every level as much as the moment he walked off that Madison Square Garden stage and faded to black the first time. That was Peak Jay. He went on to release more number one albums and make more money and be widely loved purely as a rapper, but that moment was when he was firing on all cylinders like never before, and never after.
And so if we weren't at Peak Drake when the Peak Drake article was first written, when will we be? How much higher could he possibly go? It's natural to assume that the answer to that question hinges on the success of Views, but that's not entirely true. Drake has to be the most popular rapper ever with absolutely no consensus classic album, no one seems to be able to agree if he has a classic album at all. So if Views From the 6 turns out to just be another If You're Reading This It's Too Late, an album which saw every single one of its songs hit the charts, will that really do anything to slow down the Drake tank, or just lift him even higher? Not even the most hived of Future fans or most owled of Drake stans would call What a Time to Be Alive a classic and yet it lives on every time we use the phrase "what a time to be alive" or type a diamond emoji on Instagram, which is all the time. Peak Drake exists at a level beyond mere albums. He's been criticized since his earliest days, still is, and it hasn't seemed to put a dent in his seemingly impenetrable armor.
So to return to the central question, are we at Peak Drake? And if not, when will we be?
Here's my prediction.
Drake will drop Views and it will be a monster, devastate the internet landscape in Godzilla-like fashion. People will flock to Apple Music to subscribe, hordes more will flock to the bay of pirates. Whatever the numbers are they'll be impressive but only side note irrelevant. The album's impact will be stunningly obvious not through sales, or streams, or sales-minus-streams-times-unicorns-plus-vinyl or whatever stats the charts people are cooking up now, but because a swarm of gifs and memes and reaction shots will descend upon every social media outlet in existence. Drake's albums are group projects, calls to content creation perfectly evolved to fit the age of the participation trophy. OVO Fest 2016will sell-out in minutes, thousands of teens desperate to find communion chanting whatever the Views From the 6 version of "riding through the six with my woes" ends up being. The GRAMMYs will be unable to resist the pull of superstardom and will hand Drake multiple awards. And then, on that night in early 2017, as Aubrey Graham takes the stage with his mother by his side because of course, he will, we will finally reach Peak Drake.
After that Drake will continue to ride high, there will be no Nelly here, no stunningly fast drop from the spotlight, but his first fans, from the So Far Gone days, will now be in their early '30s with marriages and children to attend to, no longer so in need of living vicariously through their imagined fame-doppelganger. The vaguest whiff of old-ness will begin to waft around Drake, he'll be in his 30's himself, and the college kids and teens will smell it from miles away and move on, as they do and have always done since the age of Elvis, since jazz and flapper dresses in the Roaring '20s, since even earlier. There will be a high profile marriage and higher profile divorce, a shift to acting that dominates his focus, an album that brings on whispers that he's done as a rapper and then a comeback album that proves he's not. Drake will be here for the long-haul, the most likely heir to JAY-Z' rap mogul turned more mogul than rapper throne.
But it will never all come together quite the same way again for Drake, he'll never again be able to simultaneously play the role of king and people's champion, matter as much musically as he does financially, be at that perfect precipice between new and exciting artist and a legacy. By this time next year, we'll have reached Peak Drake and already be on the slow decline, even though we won't realize it until long after when we're writing ten-year anniversary pieces on Views From the 6. It's inevitable, it's written in the stars.
The peak comes only for the lucky few, but the descent comes for everyone, even Drake.