Written by Jordan Mason
Drake Is Releasing a Double album and I’m Upset.
I’d like to preface this by assuring you I am not a Drake hater, but I once was.
When Drake blew up and became the biggest artist in the world, I was an angry teenager. Specifically an angry teenager who had yet to get laid, and also spent most of his weekends at shows like this one, where the 6ix god’s music was nowhere to be found. I enjoyed the life I lived, but it led to a degree of music snobbery I’m still recovering from today. To me, going to shows made me feel like I was a part of something secret, something special. It was easy for me to ignore Drake. Add in a whack slogan like YOLO and the fact that the man’s lyrics and photos are popping up in the feeds of all the people who aren’t apart of your secret club and it becomes easy to hate the guy.
But then I got older, my hardcore phase turned out to be exactly that-a phase-and my music taste started to broaden. But not only did my music taste change, my outlook on life changed too. I realized it was silly to hate someone like Drake the way I did. But I couldn’t just come out and say it. Inside I still felt I needed something to make it okay.
And then It happened. September 2015.
What a Time To Be Alive.
Drake and Future release the combo tape What a Time to Be Alive and from first listen this thing just SLAPS. The ego, the bravado Drake carries on this tape, it’s almost as if he wrote the whole thing to say two things:
1.) Drake doesn’t need me, or you, or anyone.
2.) He has a really big team and they need some really big rings.
And this was the moment I went public about being wrong about Drake. I took my lumps, gave his older stuff a deeper listen and though I didn’t love it all, I respected it. I thoroughly enjoyed If You’re Reading This… and I embraced the 6ix god. Shit, I was moving to Toronto within the year, I had to.
But 3 years and 2 albums later, Drake is releasing a double album and I’m upset. Because even though I like Drake, a double album in 2018 from a contemporary Hip Hop/R&B artist is just too far of a stretch. Hip Hop-especially Drakes R&B infused brand- has been dominated by single culture for years. Streaming services have ironically amplified the issue, even though we have access to artist’s entire albums for little to no cost, we are more likely to skip through, not remember, or move onto another album/single before digesting the first. Simply put, our music attention span is shrinking, which makes Drake’s 25 track Scorpion set to be released June 29th a very tall order.
Two quick case studies on the topic of album lengths.
Migos are right there beside Drake when it comes to the biggest names in Hip Hop and pop culture today. In the last 2 years, they released both Culture and Culture II respectively.
Culture was a 13 track Trap delight. It had a handful of great singles for the club or the party, as well as a few good cuts more reminiscent of their mixtape days. At 58 minutes, the albums runs a little long for me, but it’s not unreasonable. Culture was met with rave reviews from fans and critics and impressed a lot of the groups doubters.
Culture II is 24 tracks and runs 1 hour and 45 minutes long. I have never been able to listen to it from start to finish. I never will listen to it from start to finish. In fact, I don’t think you would ever be able to tell. All the beats and ad libs would eventually coagulate into one droning sound, repeating forever and ever in your ears. You shut your eyes to try and escape the hell that you’ve trapped yourself in, but it only gets worse as every time your eyelids close you see your abusers. You put a face to the ever repeating “Mama!”’s and “Dab!”’s.
Contrast that with what Kanye West and his G.O.O.D Music companions have been doing. Their last 3 releases combined have been shorter than Migos’ Culture II. Pusha T’s Daytona, Kanye West’s ye and the Kanye/Cudi collab KIDS SEE GHOSTS all cap at 7 tracks, and not one is longer than 23 minutes. Say what you will about Kanye’s personal life or the terrible things that come out of his mouth sometimes, but the man is smart. Especially when it comes to the music industry. Each of these records are structured well, carry little fat, are easily digestible, and most importantly leave you wanting more.
Kanye’s quality over quantity isn’t a new idea, the punk and hardcore scenes of the world mastered the short release years ago. Frankly if there’s a punk record over 30 minutes long I’m not sure I want to hear it. But what Kanye is doing is good for his brand, unlike almost every other single thing he does. Kanye dropped a near-flawless record. While people may have wanted to have Kanye’s head on a platter for his remarks about slavery, he left very few chinks in his armour with his latest releases. Whether or not you like Kanye as much as Kanye likes Kanye, it’s pretty impressive to have an album with no bad songs. It definitely helps with the artistic legacy, and that is what Drake should be focused on. Let’s be honest, Drake doesn’t have to worry about whether or not people will listen to his music, but if he’s as hardworking as he claims to be, he should be worried about whether or not people remember it.
Shout outs to to Complex for the A+ memery. I know my boy Sean Evans was behind this.