A couple weeks back, under the impression that Drake's highly-anticipated project/playlist/album/whatever More Life would be premiering on March 4, we published answers to three important questions that were weighing on our mind in the lead-up to the release.
Obviously, March 4 came and went without even a whisper of news concerning More Life, so the wait continued. Now that we are certain the "Playlist by October Firm" will definitely be premiering on Saturday, March 18, however, we're back with even more questions concerning Drake, unquestionably the most popular artist in the world.
To answer these questions, we touched base with Brendan Varan, Managing Editor at DJBooth; Yoh, Senior Editor at DJBooth; and Sowmya Krishnamurthy, a veteran freelance contributor to outlets including Billboard, Village Voice, XXL, and Rolling Stone.
1. Former DJBooth scribe Nathan argued that Views would be 'Peak Drake,' but with every new achievement and broken record, he has continued to rise. Following More Life, does Drake continue his ascent or will he finally begin the inevitable fall?
Brendan: At this point, it’s becoming more difficult to imagine Drake NOT being popular with every new milestone or one-liner that’s tailor-made to be tweeted by every 20-something on their way to get drunk at a bar, but it’s going to happen eventually, right? It has to. This “playlist” is yet another genius move by a man who’s been bending the industry to his will for years. I think his ascent continues at least until his next album.
Yoh: The law of gravity is in play—what goes up must come down. DMX fell, Ja Rule fell, 50 Cent fell, Kanye West fell, and even Eminem isn’t at the position that he once was. Drake can continue to climb higher in clout and stature on the stairway to heaven, but the day he falls back to Earth is inevitable.
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Sowmya: When we talk about achievement, there's a marked distinction between critics and Drake's fan base. Views was a commercial achievement but I wouldn't say it was a creative one. I hated Views when I first heard it. I still hate Views. By Drake's own admission, it doesn't sound like the album turned out exactly how he envisioned it. That said, he's destroyed every streaming record known to man (the album also performed very well in first-week traditional sales) and if you go on social media—as I have—and call Views anything but a classic, his fans will troll you for days. The real question is whether Drake is going for critical acclaim with More Life or streams/sales? In the case of the latter, I think he'll hit it out the park.
2. At this point in his career—now that he’s the most popular artist in the world—what, if anything, does Drake have left to prove?
Brendan: Look at Drake’s Facebook page exactly 10 years ago. Now let the fact that he’s the most popular rapper in the world sink in. Drake has nothing left to prove.
Yoh: Rap fans will want the undeniable classic and pop fans will want the undeniable hits―two worlds that are both difficult to please―so it’s going to be difficult satisfying these two spectrums. To be completely honest, Drake has nothing left to prove. He’s accomplished more than most, expectations will always be high, but at this point in his career, he’s reached a plateau where it’s very hard to demand anything but good music.
Sowmya: Drake is the most popular artist in the world but what he wants—in many ways, what he's always wanted—is credibility. He sees artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Chance The Rapper balance commercial success with credibility—yet, they all seem to focus on the latter over the former. Drake wants to be in that Top 5 conversation. He wants to have his own TPAB moment; creating music that shifts the culture.
3. If Meek Mill takes Quentin Miller to Follies and Drake’s on his way with Skepta but OB OBrien took all his Stone Island clothes to smoke hookah with Odell Beckham Jr., Johnny Manziel and Wizkid, then should Drake DM J-Lo or drink Virginia Black whiskey and text Serena Williams?
Brendan: Counterpoint: If Rihanna and Nicki Minaj get matching BBK tattoos with Oliver and his side ting, and PND and Drake’s dad’s mustache cruise through London town wit 40 screaming OVOXO, then will Popcaan get his verse back on "Controlla" in time for Roy Woods and Majid Jordan’s sleepover in the OVO songwriting camp tent?
Yoh: We are officially in the Upside Down.
Sowmya: Drake would probably be all in his feelings since a great night at the strip club was ruined. He should go to the studio and funnel that frustration into a song titled "2:14 am in Atlanta" and then release it on every streaming platform.