Selling 477,000 copies of an album in one week is a pretty big accomplishment these days. Gone are the days when an artist could sell one or two million in one week, like *NSYNC, Usher and Lil’ Wayne have done in the past. Some music industry insiders were speculating that Drake would achieve this feat, considering the buzz around him and the anticipation for his debut album Thank Me Later. It wasn’t a million, but it’s still pretty impressive. For some reason this biracial, Canadian, child actor has captivated the music industry and has everyone talking.
I’ve kept quiet about Drake on the blog because I don’t have anything very nice to say. I’m not a fan of his music at all, and being from Toronto, that statement puts me in the minority. I haven’t heard the album and don’t plan on listening to it. However, yesterday I watched the MTV documentary ‘Better Than Good Enough’ that followed Drake leading up to the release of his album. It was a captivating, intimate, look at his life and who he is as a person. Even for me, someone who is not a fan and believes all this hype is unwarranted, I found it to be an interesting hour.
Drake is not your conventional rapper. He’s not from the mean streets of a major American city, he didn’t have a rough upbringing, he doesn’t rap with a street accent. He’s different. He grew up in Canada, lived in a wealthy neighbourhood and starred in a hit show during his teen years. How he was able to come from that and be accepted in to the hip hop community continues to amaze me. Hip hop heavyweights like Jay-Z, Kanye and of course Lil’ Wayne have backed him up and believe that he’s the next big thing in hip hop. In the documentary, Drake doesn’t hide who he is. He’s shown telling the crowd that he’s Canadian and was on Degrassi, most of his crew members and band sound like they’re Canadian as well (his DJ went to my high school). Drake is shown taking voice lessons and talks openly about wanting to improve his craft. He admits to being an emotional person and talked at length about his relationships with his mother and his best friend/producer who are both struggling with illnesses. Unlike other rappers today, Drake is willing to show his vulnerable side and say what he’s afraid of and admit that all of this fame is taking a toll on him.
I watched this and wondered why fans of hip hop, who embrace rappers who have gone to jail, or have been shot, or were drug dealers, openly accept Drake with his Canadian accent and pretty boy looks. It could be a sign that things in hip hop are changing, that you don’t have to come from a rough background to make it. It could be because people love the music so much they don’t care where he’s from. But I believe that having Lil’ Wayne in his corner, the biggest rapper in the industry right now, is the main reason Drake has become so popular. Having Lil’ Wayne tell the world that this kid is good made people listen and pay attention. Without that support, I doubt that Drake would be in the position he’s in today.
One of my criticisms of Drake is that his music is the same old stuff. None of it is innovative in any way. He sings a bit (judging from this Jay Leno performance, not that great) and maybe raps about different topics than the average rapper out there, but musically he’s boring. This is coming from my limited knowledge of his music, however.
I am proud that he’s from Toronto and now the whole world knows us as the place Drake is from. He’s probably the biggest urban/hip hop artist to come out of here and I can’t hate on that.
The MTV documentary was an interesting look at an artist who’s in a critical time in his career right now. It’s sink or swim. His singles haven’t blown up as much as people were expecting, the album has had mixed reviews. The jury is still out on whether he will be the next big thing in rap.
And Drake knows this. It seems like he’s riding the wave of his success right now, hoping that it lasts. Only time will tell what will happen. But until then, for someone like me who doesn’t care either way, it’s interesting to watch from afar.
As Jay – Z said in the song ‘A Star is Born’: “Drake’s up next/See what he do with it.”