It’s Drizzy season and the Views are picturesque to say the least. Views shows us an artist who’s at a pivotal moment in his career; while he is arguably the biggest artist in any genre right now, to truly cement himself as a legend, Drake needs to deliver a true classic in the vein of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, good kid, m.A.A.d city, or a Reasonable Doubt. This is something that has been pointed out many times and by people more eloquent than I, so when the Boy raps “Views already a classic” on the first real banger of the album (“Hype”) it’s more than just braggadocio or a subtle head nod to his critics.
What most people have missed is that the most important line on the album and the key to Drake’s entire career was already laid out in the open by 6 God, only three songs into his magnum opus. Midway through the final verse on “U With Me?,” the son of Toronto sings “That’s for sure though, I made a career of reminiscin’,” cutting directly to the root of his success.
When I listened to Kendrick Lamar‘s To Pimp A Butterfly, once I pressed play on “Wesley’s Theory” I knew that I was hearing a classic album that was dealing with the modern African-American experience. The vast majority of rappers are successful because they manage to tap into something larger than themselves; J. Cole plays with our childhood dreams coming true, Kanye West lavishes in our most self-indulgent moments, and Jay-Z channels our innermost desires where no matter what room we’re in, we’re the most well prepared (if you think Jay-Z wasn’t behind and involved with every aspect of Lemonade, you’re delusional).
What Drake has understood and has built his career upon is not his reminiscing, but the fact that we all reminisce. Aubrey taps into commonalities that all people share; we all have “let’s just be friends” that we don’t have anymore, we all have moments in ” Marvin’s Room,” and we all have text messages that don’t resonate so we say them more publicly. Drake’s lyrical strength comes equally from his rhymes as it does from him using experiences that he is the direct center of and making them relatable.
At the center of every memory we have, we are at the center of it. Everything in our immediate experience tells us that for all intents and purposes, we are the center of the universe. Drake’s subversion of this trope by writing into it does nothing more than confirm what we all want to be true; that our individual experiences are things that are worthy of being immortalized in song.
Look at OVO Fest last year. Instead of just performing his already huge hits, he brought his fans with him, literally performing in front of a giant screen of memes, the ultimate in group think art. In his Beats One Radio Interview with Zane Lowe, he discussed his now infamous video for “Hotline Bling” and said “I was expecting the reaction. I was praying for it.” More than the pastel lighting or the contemporary art influenced set pieces, the video was such a viral success because of Drake being “Drake,” a relatable everyman in a turtleneck with your Dad’s best dance moves.
Even the roll out for this album was meme-friendly. Tapping into the collective aspect of being a Drake fan is a whole different beast of inclusivity than the #BeyHive, #FutureHive, or any other fan club. Just look at the album art and tell me that wasn’t meant to be meme’d. Look at Champagne Papi’s Instagram and how he simultaneously tapped into a joke people were already making about him (that he knew they were going to); announcing the features on his album with photos of himself from the cover, meme’d into photos of the features.
Views is going to go platinum; with the RIAA now counting streams and Drizzy starting with almost 800,000 equivalent album sales before the album even dropped, there is little question of that. To be honest, I’ve been listening to VIEWS all day and I’m still not sure it’s a classic. If you ask me an hour from now, I might still think that Nothing Was The Same is still his best album. What’s undeniable is that he’s found a formula that works. This is done purely by understanding that we all want the same things.