Get Familiar: Drake

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I've always been something dat these labels can't buy/ especially if they tryin to take a piece of my soul/ and Sylvia be tellin' Tez, "damn drake fly"/ and he just be like "silly mother fucker I know" /that was your bad/ how could you pass up on em?/ he just take the records and he gas up on em/ Wayne will prolly put a million cash up on em/ surprised no one ever put your ass up on em
Drake, Say What's Real

It's rare for a Hip Hop artist to be themselves, create their own distinct artistic sound, and remain credible and accepted among a mainstream audience. In 2009, a number of artists such as Kid Cudi, The Cool Kids, Wale, B.o.B., Charles Hamilton and Asher Roth have been successful with building a buzz by being themselves--the average dude. Only a few have been fortune to sign a record contract with a major record label and more importantly release an album. Only a couple have been capable of receiving a decent amount of radio play. Sooner or later, the buzz fades as the artist and record label find a way to compromise; release a crossover album when the present music scene demands otherwise and still maintain the "average dude" image that made them successful in the first place.

For Drizzy, he has been successful at defying the odds. Although he's affiliated with Young Money Entertainment, he has been successful at building a buzz without the assistance of Lil Wayne, one of Hip Hop's biggest selling artists. There are few proteges that have escaped the shadow of the major artist that co-signed them. He has reached a mainstream audience through urban radio without releasing an album. So far, he has released a number of mixtapes; most recently, he has released a mixtape entitled "So Far Gone". Off that mixtape, a number of songs have been successful on radio; Best I Ever Had; Successful featuring Trey Songz; as well as Every Girl featuring Young Money artists.

"Buzz so big I could probably sell a blank disk/When my album drop/Bitches will buy it for the picture/And niggas will buy it too and claim they got it for their sister"
-Drake, Best I Ever Had

It's rare for an artist to stay in their own lane or rather create their own lane. With songs such as "Unstoppable" featuring Lil Wayne and Santogold, "Let's Call It Off" featuring Peter Bjorn, and " Little Bit" featuring Lykke Li and Mickey Factz, he has rapped and/or sung and cross-over to other music genres. This use to be the things Hip Hop artists use to do--break down boundaries between Hip Hop and other music genres and make it their own. Drake has been able to return some originality back to Hip Hop music without becoming something he is now (e.g., Kanye West singing on 808's and Heartbreak and Lil Wayne making a Rock album).

This does not mean he can't rap and freestyle (e.g., interview with Funkmaster Flex). Fans and followers of October's Very Own, Drake, are quick to declare him the Lebron James of Hip Hop. After listening to his mixtape, So Far Gone, for the last three months and witnessing his radio buzz without the assistance of Lil Wayne, it's hard to see any limits Drake can't reach. He's a superstar in the making.

Listen to Drake's So Far Gone.



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