Drake’s Redemption Arc

Writer: Kyle Wheelock

On April 16th, Drake posted two images with the caption, “June 2018”. It’s been over a year since 2017’s More Life dropped, so it’s safe to assume that whatever is coming in June will be an album. And if this is indeed the case, we could be looking at a return of one of hip-hop’s biggest icons. Of course, I know Drake himself hasn’t gone anywhere, he’s been in the public eye since his Degrassi days, but since his If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late mixtape back in 2015, Drake has been framed by some as a “villain,” in hip-hop, for a variety of reasons. I like to compare it to Lebron James’ time in Miami, a time of incredible individual achievement, but almost across the board criticism. From the beginning of IYRTITL, it was clear that something was different, the first track, “Legend,” felt off compared to the Drake we had gotten to know by that point in time. Yes, he was still bragging about his status in the rap game, his money, his women, all that good stuff, but it felt darker. This theme would continue throughout the mixtape, as Drake went from track to track, more abrasive and arrogant lyrically than we had seen before, complimented by beats that sound like something out of a drug-induced nightmare. Basically, it was like Tobey Maguire with the Venom suit.

On top of this, the closing track, “6PM in New York,” saw Drake taking shots at then-labelmate, Tyga. Now, Drake is no stranger to rap beef, as he also feuded with Common back in 2012, but that seems almost tame to how effortlessly he dragged poor Tyga. In the months following IYRTITL, Meek Mill came out and accused Drake of having a ghostwriter, hurting his image as a rapper, something he still hasn’t been able to really shake to this day. Again, Drake came back with one of the more ruthless diss tracks in recent years, one that still gets plays to this day. One side note that got swept under the rug was the release of, “Hotline Bling,” the track we now know as a smash hit, but was initially introduced to the world as a remix of DRAM’s, “Cha Cha,” but later became its own international hit. Basically, after dissing Meek Mill twice in a week while simultaneously being accused of jacking DRAM’s song, Drake cemented himself as hip-hop’s newest villain, a title he’s continued to wear until recently.

Back in November, DJ Akademiks revealed on Everyday Struggle that he spoke to Noah “40” Shebib for hours. One of the tidbits Akademiks shared with the world was a quote from 40 that Drake’s next project would move a million units first week, a feat which has only been accomplished a handful of times. Naturally, such a while claim was met with skepticism, as Drake’s last two projects, Views (2015) and More Life (2016) drew criticism for a variety reasons, including going pop and continuing to be a “culture vulture.” Drake had fallen out of favor with many hip-hop fans, and while I personally don’t believe his career was ever in danger, it was clear that everything Drake did was going to be scrutinized tougher than anyone else because of his reputation (again, much in the same way Lebron James was during his Miami Heat days). With his current standing, a million first week seemed out of question. And then Scary Hours happened.

Drake dropped a two-track EP called Scary Hours back on January 19, 2018, and the reception was pretty positive. The first track, “God’s Plan,” has become wildly successful, breaking streaming records, and becoming Drake’s fourth number one single in the U.S., his second as a solo artist (“One Dance,” was the first if you were curious). Accompanying, “God’s Plan,” was a music video of Drake going around and donating money and buying groceries for people, which again, was received extremely positively because, well, how do you boo charity? This was the first step to going back to the loveable Drake hip-hop knew back in 2010-12; we’re right in the midst of Drake’s, “I’m coming home,” tour. Don’t believe me? Have a look at Drake’s latest single, “Nice for What,” a New Orleans Bounce flavored single with a Lauren Hill sample that praises hard-working women and all that they go through, and the music video for it which features numerous female celebrities, all looking beautiful and doing their thing. And as if all that wasn’t enough, Drake has also been spotted streaming Fornite Battle Royale, and pledging to donate more money afterward.

With two well received, super positive, encouraging singles, successful music videos to match, and casual Twitch streams, Drake is positioning himself to reclaim the title of resident goofy, nice guy that everyone loves who also makes music that everyone wants to listen to. And, Luckily for Drake, the previous holder of that title has recently fallen out of favor with most of the internet, leaving that position wide open. Does this mean Scorpion, assuming it’s an album, will move a million first week? No clue to be honest with you, but I guarantee you Drake and everyone up at OVO is hoping it does, but only time will tell for sure.


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