Drake Vies For Hip-Hop’s Throne With New Album, Tour
If hip-hop were a form of government, it’d be a monarchy. It’s the ongoing push / pull of heirs vying to be kings. The empire of Jay Z presided for many years, but recently, the competition heated up. Rappers like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and A$AP Rocky have made an admirable push for the throne, then of course, there’s Drake. Our Artist of the Week waited patiently for his turn, and with his new album Nothing Was The Same, well, the contest has changed in his favor.
Drake timed his strike with precision. He reemerged shortly after a polarizing album release by Kanye and just as the hype around Kendrick fades a bit. In a devious chess move, those two now join forces on tour to challenge Drake head-on, but the Toronto native has another ace up his sleeve in the slick tour-mate Miguel. They certainly make a formidable tandem, and Drake probably took a few notes on Miguel’s successful formula with the stunning “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”
The two will target the heart with smooth grooves, while West and Lamar go after the jugular. Drake certainly has displayed the swagger necessary for a hip-hop coup d’état, but does his music back it up? In short, all signs point to yes. His new record builds on the strengths of Take Care (2011), and he continues to pursue collaborations with talented budding artists.
Drake‘s previous LP was largely inspired by the work of Marvin Gaye, and included contributions from The Weeknd and influential The xx producer, Jamie xx. On Nothing Was The Same, he recruited the help of gifted U.K. singer Sampha for “Too Much,” as well as up-and-comers Majid Jordan; although the underlying inspiration is less clear, Wu-Tang Clan make a strong case.
Drake pays homage to the group with “Wu-Tang Forever” (which members of the rap collective actually protested), in addition to using the distorted chorus of their classic track “C.R.E.A.M” on “Pound Cake / Paris Morton Music 2” with Jay Z (because why not?). The references are where the inspiration ends, though, as the majority of the album features dreamy production, sometimes wonderfully reminiscent of A$AP Rocky producer Clams Casino like on “The Language“.
“Started From The Bottom” is really one of the only radio ready tracks, and despite being the lead single, it’s really not representative of the experience this album offers. It’s a solemn journey, adorned with piano melodies and introspective lyrics; this seems to be the motif that allows Drake to create his best work.
His forthcoming tour brings his entrancing music to arenas across the U.S, and it’ll be very interesting to see how he stacks up against his competitors. Based on his previous tours, it promises to be an electrifying display. As “festival rap” upstarts perfect their twist on the genre, Drake continues to hone his take on “arena hip-hop,” a feat only the prominent powerhouses of the rap game can tackle. Have a seat and watch the show—hip-hop’s throne awaits.
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Article by Nicolas White