Recently, West Coast native, YG, released the video for Why You Always Hatin’ and there he was… Drake. The Prodigal’s Son. He Who Must Not Be Named. Ricky Bobby. The Second Coming. The Beginning & The End. Ok, I’m being a bit dramatic… but not really. Drake has been the most popular rapper for almost a decade. Kanye had to drop his best album and team up with Jay-Z for Watch The Throne just to stay in the conversation. All the other competition has fallen away. Jay-Z is busy managing the Beehive, Lil’ Wayne no longer has the same bounce he once had, Rick Ross proved that a great ear for beats can only take you so far. The rappers he entered the game with are doing great things in their own right, but are still looking up at Drake. Wale has carved out a small niche for himself, CuDi is on a different planet, Cole has a dedicated fanbase, and Kendrick is probably his only counterpart… if any. The lyricists that are willing to take shots at him are nowhere near as popular. Joe Budden seems eager for attention and Pusha has the credibility, but I don’t think he wants to destroy Drake. Pusha is fine knowing Drake is scared of him. Future, who is hot right now, is basically Drake’s sidekick while they’re on tour together. Meek Mill is actually putting out good music but no one cares.
While I was watching this video a saw a man on top of the world. A man who has beaten, subbed or ignored his competition and holds the crown as the biggest rapper on one of the best runs we’ve ever seen. Despite having no classic album, Drake has maintained his popularity, relevance, and credibility… to a degree. It’s awesome to watch! As a fan, it’s great to see the biggest rapper just dominate the competition. In a culture full of bravado and braggadocio, being able to look at one artist as the definitive frontrunner is fascinating.
Drake isn’t my favorite rapper. I’ll always have a soft spot for Kanye, Lupe can still rap circles around Drake and I’m far more interested in what Kendrick is doing musically on untitled. unmastered than anything Drake is doing on Views. The only thing I can compare Drake to right now is Stone Cold Steve Austin at the height of the Attitude Era. Not the best technical wrestler, that’s Kurt Angle. He’s not the flashiest wrestler. He’s not even the most gimmicky wrestler, that might go to The Undertaker or Mankind. He is the most popular and he can do whatever he wants with the cultural capital he’s hoarding. Fans will support no matter what.
I don’t think I’m hatin’ when I say I want Drake to stumble. I just love pop culture. When Nas Ether‘d Jay that caused a paradigm shift in Hip-Hop. I want to live through that moment myself. It’s obvious that Drake learned from Jay and is much more thoughtful about who to diss, when and where. The awesome thing about Hip-Hop is how dynamic it is. Things are changing all the time. Who thought Nas would get back on people’s radars off a Khaled feature? Drake will take a hit. It’ll look drastically different from anything we’ve seen. I can’t wait to write and talk about it. It’s just so hard to imagine a time where Drake isn’t the biggest rapper in the world.
Maybe a younger, softer Canadian rapper will rise from Toronto as a better version of Drake. Maybe we’ll realize that we don’t want a half white, half singing, Jewish actor as our representative. Maybe Drake will retire early and start his residency in Vegas. Who knows!?