LL Cool Drake

April 23, 2009

Young Drizzy came to face unfounded popularity with the release of his breakout mixtape So Far Gone, a collection of gushy love jams appropriately released less than 24 hours before Valentine’s Day. The faux album earned him fangirls and stan boys alike, yet he’s remained on the hush hush ever since, only popping up to perform on Weezy’s I Am Music Tour and, most recently, a few of his own solo shows. But how did Drake get to the point where he’s currently at? And who exactly are all of these people buying into the Drake phenomenon? Was this a genius move, or has he lost the momentum? Let’s examine a bit further.

Ironically, many of the fans on Drake’s jock might not be up on their boy’s history (let’s just call it a case of the plus-20’s). The Canadian export first got his mainstream kicks playing a handicapped teen on the adolescent soap Degrassi: The Next Generation (check this GIF that sums up his character nicely), a show so corny and hyper-dramatic that, presumably, no actor could ever dodge the shame from appearing on it – especially if one of them got the jones to pursue a career in rap.

The odds were stacked against him. Not only was Degrassi a credibility killer (who’s going to listen to an album from a dude that overacted his ass off in the public eye?), but not a single Canadian emcee has successfully broken the mainstream barrier (excluding Kardinal Offishall, but we’ll just say that his recent success was a mere fluke). So when he dropped his debut mixtape Room for Improvement, the title said it all. Here was a kid trying to ride the mainstream wave – check a few samples – and failing to exceed anyone’s expectations in the process. The attempt was swept under the rug, and Drizzy needed to step back and figure out how to come properly.

’07’s Comeback Season showed that Drake was finally starting to find his musical niche as a singer cum rapper, but Trey Songz guest appearances weren’t going to just do it for him. Enter Lil’ Wayne, who gave Drizzy his blessing after they mysteriously fell in cahoots with one another. Just as Weezy began to make his transition from hip-hop’s best kept secret to chart-dominating pussy monster, he co-signed the Canadian entertainer and helped him build a healthy buzz, making him a part of his Young Money crew and opening the industry door for him to snag a record deal with Interscope Records.

Then came that fateful day back in February when Drake put up So Far Gone for free download on his site, the turning point in his burgeoning career. Coming off of a maelstrom of blog buzz, So Far Gone collected upwards of 8,000 downloads in the first two hours on the interweb, accumulating an innumerable amount of subsequent downloads as the album spread through the net like a renegade virus. Ever since, Drake’s effect on pop culture has been nothing short of spectacular, and with his major label debut Thank Me Later slated for release later this year, he’ll be able to write the first official chapter in his book of rap revelations.

But a few issues need to be addressed. Could Drake have done this without the help of Lil’ Wayne? Before Weezy F. Baby gave Drizzy his stamp of approval, Drake was just another fuckwit Canadian rapper trying to make it in the big, bad world of hip-hop, best known for playing a character adamantly trying to overcome the limitations of a handicap. Ironically, Drake was in the same position as he entered the world of rap: a decent emcee forced to convince the unforgiving urban demographic that his skills as an emcee belied his embarrassing tenure as a teen soap actor. Lucky for him, Weezy’s status as one of the reigning kings of mainstream hip-hop helped put that career choice even deeper in the history books, making the transition from thespian to lyrical wunderkind much easier than it would have been had Wayne not lent him a helping hand.

With his credibility in check, the tape was downloading like hot e-cakes. But who exactly was his demographic? Online hip-hop heads were reduced to fangirls when the tape first hit the net, and judging by the number of comments gushing over how the tape was “crack” and “fiyah,” it’s safe to assume that dudes made up a good portion of the first wave of downloaders. But after getting over the initial hype, those same male e-jockeys started realizing that So Far Gone didn’t exactly cater to their gender. There’s little to no drug talk on the tape, and Drake treats women as if the pussy were on a pedestal (in a recent interview with Vibe, he stated that the mixtape was “all about being genuine and really striking a chord with women”). Soon enough, males passed the Drake torch to the females, and these days, the only fans that still gush over the tape are missing a Y chromosome (if you don’t believe me, do a Twitter search of Drake and see what comes up).

So where exactly can Drake go from here? After he dropped the mixtape of the year, he pretty much retreated from the scene, tagging along as a special guest on Lil Wayne’s I Am Music tour and only performing two solo shows to date. His musical output has been at a minimum, as fans are still collectively losing their shit over So Far Gone.

It’s been recently reported that he’s hit up the studio with Just Blaze and Jay-Z, a collaboration that, on paper, promises to blow the mind of each and every hip-hop stan that’s bought into the Drake hype. But will Thank Me Later, which he states will be much more upbeat than the tape, keep his fanbase intact? Will dudes yet again be fooled by all the internet rumblings and hop on the Drizzy train? Or will the ladies (who, might I add, have an overwhelmingly strong presence when it comes to blowing a wad of ones on any CD pooped out by a boyish emcee) be the only ones buying into it? Depending on his next move, Drake has the potential to do big things. And who knows? Maybe the album will make the days when he rolled around on a closed set in a wheelchair become an even more distant memory. Because at this point in his career, that’s the least of his worries.

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One Response to “LL Cool Drake”

  1. Lawl Says:

    tl; dr LOL


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