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The Great Drake Debate

We explore whether Drake is the biggest artist of our generation or a culture vulture.

18th Mar 2017

Image Credit: Daily Hive

Aubrey Graham, or ‘Drake,' as he’s better known, is the unlikely sitcom actor turned rapper hailing from Canada, the land of the Maple leaves, that saw a steady rise to fame following a string of highly successful mixtapes in the mid-late 2000s. However, it was his first studio album ‘Thank Me Later,' released under Cash Money Records that laid the foundations for the now 30-year-old rapper’s sensational career, cementing his place firmly within the mainstream rap scene.

Since then, Drake’s music career has gone from strength to strength, continually topping charts and dominating the airwaves across both sides of the Atlantic and beyond.

The Toronto born star currently holds the record for the most songs simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100, after managing to amass 20 hits on the coveted list; comfortably surpassing the now seemingly inconsequential 14 songs achieved by The Beatles back in the 60’s. He also holds the record for the highest grossing tour in Hip Hop, his Summer 16 tour with Future dethroned Jay Z and Kanye West’s Watch The Throne tour and grossed a colossal $85m in ticket sales.

Authentic Aubrey?

Despite undeniable triumphs within the rap game, it’s not only the music that preserves Drake’s popularity and relevance. Over the years, the 6God has become quite the marmite artist, continually polarizing popular opinion between those who argue he isn’t ‘real’ rap and those who believe he’s the future of modern Hip-Hop. From flirting with Dancehall to writing Pop smash hits like ‘Hold On We’re Going Home, Drake has been very experimental with sound, defining himself with a global sound. Drake’s career has come to be defined by controversy; everything from the rapper’s eyebrows, dance moves and love life seem to be to be under the constant scrutiny of the masses.

However, in more recent times it hasn’t been Drake’s career that’s been stirring up debate, but rather his involvement with other artists. Following his guest performance with Skepta at Wireless festival in 2015, Drake and the BBK front man’s friendship quickly became a hot topic on social media.

The unlikely pair’s mutual love of one another’s craft has seen them collaborate on the remix of Wizkid’s ‘Ojuelegba,' pay homage to one another in various lyrics and even get each other’s logo’s permanently inked on their skin. In doing so, the two unwittingly established the most influential and provocative transatlantic, cross-genre co-sign in musical history.

At the time, Skepta was already a longstanding household name in the UK due to his contributions to Grime over the years, a genre that had maintained a strong cult following despite the music still remaining largely underground. Drake’s recognition of his artistry was therefore not an act of charity but rather a dignified nod of approval from one musical maven to another.

Drake’s very public working relationship with Skepta inevitably sparked the interest of fans from across the pond, who came in their millions, to find out who exactly Skepta was. The partnership gave birth to what may well be the first real generation of American Grime fans – cultural exchange at its finest.

Culture Vulture?

But this wasn’t Drake’s first co-sign of a fellow musician by a long stretch. Drizzy has been actively plugging other artists and their music by collaboration, on Beats1 Radio, on social media and even occasionally signing them to his label OVO Sound, all from as early as 2011. Unknown to many, Drake helped spring-boarding the careers of artists like The Weeknd, Tinashe, DVSN, PartyNextDoor, Majid Jordan and even Chicago drill rappers Lil Bibby and Lil Herb

It seems a thumbs up from the 6God and the coveted chance to share in his limelight can be just the luck a new artist needs to make their break in the industry, a co-sign from him is almost guaranteed to put you on the map once his giant fan base take heed.

But despite these seemingly random acts of kindness, Drake did receive some online backlash from another fellow rapper and former Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, for posting a video on Instagram dancing to ‘SKRT’ by Florida based rapper Kodak Black.

Earl wrote a string of tweets expressing his concern over Drake’s latest musical discovery at the time, stating that he sees Drake as “a bit of a vulture” and didn’t want young Kodak to fall victim of it. He pointed out that the Toronto rapper’s actions didn’t always appear to be selfless but often “self-serving," which is an opinion shared by many.

“The line between paying homage and wave riding is a blurry one” says Sweatshirt, and nobody seems to dance on that fine line quite like Drizzy does. Some say he just has a keen ear for a good song and uses his position simply to give credit where credit is due in regard to upcoming artists, whilst others argue Drake’s nothing more than a band-wagoner and culture vulture whose only real incentive is to be known as the person who ‘made’ them. Something to note is that there is a reason why Drake is the hottest artist of our generation. Every move he makes is calculated, very deliberate.

D.R.A.K.E - Do Right And Kill Everything

In his most recent ‘More Life’ interview with DJ Semtex, he breaks down his tactical moves and how he maneuvered through his beef with Meek Mill. Within a few minutes of listening to the interview, you realise that this man has a very clever team around him. Reminiscent of a young Jay Z, Drake has the ability to make power move after power move so his involvement with any artist is most likely to have multiple functions.

Despite which side of the fence you sit on this great Drake debate, one thing is for sure - Drake is a modern day cultural curator. As long as his limelight continues to shine, it is certain that he will continue to have a significant impact on shaping popular culture both implicitly and explicitly. With such a vast and loyal fan base, a dominating social media presence and the uncanny ability to keep himself a hot topic of conversation; whether we like it or not Drake is here and he is here to stay.

Have a listen to Drake's much anticipated 'More Life' project below:

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