VIEWS. No, not from my hotel overlooking Central Park. Rather, the highly anticipated album by Toronto’s own, Drake. Now I tend to stay away from album reviews in this column, because frankly, I think that’s the one area my opinion doesn’t truly matter. We all have equal opinions on music, and I’d like this column to carry weight. So screw your five stars, mics, diamonds, or any other meaningless metric. This column is about a shift in the culture of urban music.
Recently, we saw two major albums drop: Beyoncé’s Lemonade, and Drake’s Views. Both made big waves in the industry and lled up my Twitter, Instagram, and every other social media feed, as they should have. Music drives the culture, and these are two of the biggest (and most talented) artists ever to do it. But I saw a very unique shift happen this week, almost a passing of the torch, if you will. Now, by no means is this article meant to be a comparison of Beyoncé and Drake. Both artists are phenomenal, uber-talented, visionary, culture-drivers, and set the bar in their own ways. But what we witnessed this week was the next generation of artist really take centre stage.
Both albums came out to massive fanfare. Beyoncé with her surprise release and HBO film, and Drake with a giant Apple Music push, and huge momentum coming off a year that saw two massively selling mixtapes, the Hotline Bling video, and the best rap diss record in recent history. Now, I have to say, I listened to both albums, and they are both equally great offerings. Beyoncé delivered a raw album, with a great blend of songs and styles, yet with a very cohesive message across the entire album. A true body of work, which requires listening from top to bottom. We’ve sorely missed that in music. And Drake gave us a beautifully crafted album with honest lyrics, plenty of notable bars, and a complex musical score that seems to fit together tightly like a woven tapestry.
Beyoncé came out, and began her tour the same week, and managed to push a very respectable 500k units in the rst week, landing Lemonade the top spot on the Billboard 200. Then Drake came out the following week, moved over 650k units in the first day, and silenced much of the hype around Lemonade.
I’ll be the first to admit, sales don’t mean everything, and perhaps there were other factors that pushed Drake over the top in comparison, like the initial Tidal-only release of Lemonade. But I’d venture to say it goes beyond that. Drake has captured the entire new generation: girls, guys, young, old; everyone seems to listen to Drake, and he always delivers a broad spectrum of music, and somehow can turn even the most savage of hip hop diss records into bona fide pop smashes. We’ve never seen that before.
What we’re seeing is the younger generation beginning to transition to the driver’s seat of culture, and eventually this pushes the older artists to the side. There’s only so much room in our pop culture lexicon, and with artists like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Adele, and Drake, we’re beginning to see the younger artists take centre stage.
But this is Beyoncé, she’s the biggest artist on the planet, right? Who can do what she does? Let me help you, the answer is NOBODY. Trust me, I know; I spent two years working with her, and she’s the best. Hands down. But time waits for no one, and in this case, it’s Drake’s time. In fact, one might argue it’s been Drake’s time for the last five or six years. The difference with Views is, there’s nobody standing in his way. We’ve seen this before. Eminem had his moment, 50 Cent had his moment, Kanye had his moment. And eventually, the next generation comes along and captures the people. In the last 14 months, Drake has captured the people with not one, but three number one albums, countless singles, and Ws across the board, and as a proud Torontonian working in the music business, I just have one thing to say, “What a time to be alive!”