Views From The 6 (capitalized for respeck purposes) debuts Friday 29 April 2016. It’s the most important record of Aubrey “Drake” Graham’s career. Drake’s not necessarily a controversial artist, he’s more so conversation fodder for people decrying either, millennials, new ni___s, lames, celebrity culture, the loss of musicianship, or droning on about how much they miss 90’s rap. Drake is the epicenter for anyone who’s missed an ex, felt vulnerable or listened to music and said “fuck this” cause it hit too close to home.
Views won’t be available for purchase today but streams live on O.V.O Sound radio, courtesy of Apple Music. Before hip hop came to the mainstream rock-stars and rappers occupied two separate spaces. One defined popular culture and shaped MTV. They had videos in abundance and sold out stadiums. The other was underground, profane laced and its popularity was mostly confined to the coastal areas of the U.S.
Everything has changed since then. Now what we used to call “Rockstars” are for the most part hip hop artist: Kanye, Beyonce and Drake. They’re the metric for what pop culture is, and their album releases become events, something more than an artist producing art. They’re either cryptically dropped late at night in an attempt to make overt marketing seem like guerrilla marketing, held in arenas with Zoolander like fashion shows or released on gat damned HBO.
But in the midst of all this Views still seemed different. References started popping up in 2014 about a career defining album for Drake (so of course he grew a beard). It’s one thing to be popular it’s an entirely other thing to be a popular mainstream rapper who crosses all genres AND produce a classic 5 mic album. Drake has made good, even great albums, but he’s never made a classic. There’s no Stillmatic, Ready to Die or Dogpound on the discography. For the kids, the source dubbing an album a “5 mic album” was a big deal. Only the best of the best got crowned with it and it used to mean something, trust me on this one. In the modern Hip Hop era the only one that comes to mind without any deep thought is My Dark Twisted Fantasy. That’s the thing about a classic albums you don’t debate it’s merits, it’s quality is universally considered great. So pardon the pun but for Drake, for OVO, and for Toronto music at large…. “The Blueprint” is on the line here. 29.4.2016 is a legacy defining/Enhancing moment.
Lebron faced this when trying for a third championship in 2014. He failed.
Kobe and Shaq faced this when taking a superteam into Detroit trying to win a fourth straight ring. They Failed.
Tom Brady faced this leading an 18-0 team into the Super Bowl. He failed.
Shonda Rhimes faced this coming off the success of Grey’s and walking into the 3rd season of Scandal. She failed.
Had these events gone the opposite ways these greats would’ve become legends and been considered unquestionably the best and if you’re a fan of any of them inside you know that to be true. Succeeding in moments like this places you in the pantheon, places you next to Zeus on Mt. Olympus.
So that’s what’s in front of Drake. But making a 5 mic classic in the midst of popular main stream success is very rare. The full list of people with an establish catalog who have done exactly that consist of Kanye, (MBDTF) Jay-Z(Black Album) and Outkast(Aquemini). That’s the full list. So for fans of Aubs (Aubrey), when hints of Views started dropping in songs, interviews, tweets and Instagram posts, there was a sense of a building storm. Then these hints started to manifest into the physical when Billboards started popping up in the 6.
They were everywhere.
From there things started to pick up steam. Rumors of a January release date ended up being false and pushed back to April. Summer 16 debuted and it was serviceable enough to be a prelude to the album, but we wanted more so the April 1st release date became an April 29th release date. Much like films, delayed releases either mean refinement into trans-formative ground breaking work, or that the project is so fucked up that everyone knows it’s trash and is just trying to save face. And then, just like that, mans dem released this.
40 was living in the studio and not coming out until this shit was finished and this is what Views really needed. No distracting beefs ,another superfluous tour or contrived controversy. No restaurant opening or encounters with Courtney from Hooters on Peach Street. This was an all hands on deck moment post NBA All-Star game, with the city literally in the title of the album. Pressure for the city and pressure for everyone at OVO. Bright lights were on now.
That means worries had to be rationalized and even if the album was just mediocre people who gave even the tiniest shit about the future of OVO would applaud whatever was released much like the fans of another millennial legend.
Then more songs started to be release and Drake fans became OVO spin doctors rationalizing the quality and content of these singles that were supposed to be signaling Drake’s best work. We had to explain away “These Days”
“it’s a cover and it’s not really on the album anyway”
Then came Controlla, which will grow on you. I mean Popcaan had to be on the album somewhere; OVO unruly after all. #kickout. Then “Pop Style”, with the weakest Jay-Z feature ever, which in retrospect makes sense now since this nigga was in the dog house and probably couldn’t stay out late with his friends.
There was wavering amongst the fan base. I started to get texts about it. After a podcast Andrew would say it in hushed tones.
What if it’s bad? What if Views is Trash? It made me wonder even.
I mean they willingly released “These days”, how dare he do that shit to humanity’s ears. Then this started to circulate.
It’s not a short ting. There’s a lot of music on there. #VIEWS (Translation: there’s 20 tracks on here nigga you ain’t getting a diet album this some real life shit.)
You’ll have enough music for the summer. ( Translation: I got y’all fam, we going on tour with this one. Your emo IG captions and facebook status game gon be good B.)
For the year. (Translation: I’m really proud of this album, fam.)
For Life. (Translation: Fuck it. This my best album. I don’t know what I’ll do after, this maybe change my name to a symbol.)
The thing about hip hop fans is that they hate evolution, we enjoy monotony from rappers. Give us the same but……different. And that’s what Drake did for basically 3 straight records and now we’ve been promised an evolution away from the comfortable. Is he going to become a more conscious artist or will he do what he always threatened and released a full R&B record? Or as my friends call it, ‘Hoonin’ da whole gat damn time’. Can he shake off the braggadocios misogyny that follows most rappers not named Kendrick or J. Cole and release something that isn’t just a derivative of his previous work? Something with lasting impact that doesn’t just grab your attention, bust sticks with you post turn-up? Hours before the release and I still have no idea what this album’s supposed to be then I recalled an article Ernest Baker wrote after Drake’s now infamous Coachella performance.
“The topic of our talk switches to Drake’s upcoming fourth album. He only has two songs finished that he likes. One is a collaboration with Beyoncé that he recorded a while ago. The other is a song that he expects to inspire a paradigm shift. His days of releasing lay-up bangers that everyone loves right away are over. For now.
Views From The 6 needs to shock listeners just as much as it needs to impress them. I compare it to what Kanye did on his own fourth album, 808s & Heartbreak.”
The Beyonce song didn’t make the final album and 808s & hearbreak was an autotune revolution that had to grow on people because it was a shift away from the College Dropout and Late registration. Otherwise known as the Kanye West formula that sold a combined 10 million albums. Then there’s the line about paradigm shift which again hints that this may be wildly different than the Drake we’ve seen before. What you can do is look back on the discography and, for other people, cite other songs from these albums. But for me these were the stand outs.
All of that was said before this happened.
Keep in mind that this came out after If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late debuted. The mix tape was such a hit it went platinum, got Drake the headline gig at Coachlella, and led to the Jungle tour. If this set actually went well and didn’t end with Madonna tongue raping him Views would have come out earlier and who knows if Meek Mill ever comes up. Bu if we’re reading the tea leaves for what this record could possibly be we have to look back at his past works:
So Far Gone – HoustlantaVegas, Best I Ever Had, Say What’s Real, Bria’s Interlude, Ignorant Shit
I remember playing a ridiculous amount of NBA 2K listening to this album. You have to revisit this album constantly.
Thank Me Later – Resistance, Karoke, Over, Light Up, Fancy
The down period. The amount of pressure for this was kind of insane after So Far Gone and it came about on the precipice of the onslaught of social media dissection of every artist that exist.
Take Care – Headlines, Crew Love, HYFR, Marvin’s Room, Lord Knows, Look what you’ve done, The Ride.
The comeback album that in retrospect set up the following run that Drake went on and cemented him firmly in the upper echelon of rappers.
NWTS – Tuscan Leather, Furthest Thing, Worst, Connect, Language, 305 to My City, Too Much, Pound Cake, Come Through, All Me
Walking around Toronto, playing this album over and over *praying hands emoji*
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late – Know Yourself, No Tellin, Madonna, 6 God, Star 67, Preach, Wednesday Night Interlude, Now & Forever, Company, You & the 6.
Technically a mixtape dropped mid soca infatuation and I’m still not tired of listening to it.
What a Time to Be Alive – Big Rings, Diamond Dancing, Scholarship, Change Locations, Jumpman
Hipsters had to hangout with them hood niggas. This led to a tour, crushed Meek completely, and further elevated Drake in the mind of black twitter (which is important cause memes, and shade, and saltiness, and whatever new word they redefine).
And that leaves us with Views From the 6. Or Views, or whatever they want to call it now, it’s hours away and, in a weird way, it seems like destiny that Beyonce would drop her album just a week before. The comparison between the two will be inevitable, from subject matter to musicianship and the pendulum is set to swing from talk of infidelity to whatever the hell Drake comes up with. For now though I have a short wish list of things I want to see on this album:
Meek Mill on a feature (y’all still on that old shit?);
Jay-Z on a song called “Switcha”;
Future and Desiigner on the same song and all of us being confused as to who’s raping;
Beyonce on a feature throwing it out there for the boy;
Drake having at least a few songs that reference black lives matter movement moving into something more impactful than just captions, Snapchat background music and puts him in the Obamas favorite rapper conversation.
For the love of God though. For the sake of my friendships. For 10YS, 8YJ, our writing, our podcasts…….. if the album is good I’m going to be annoying as shit and I apologize in advance. All that’s left now is the wait. That’s all that’s left. Run Up. See y’all in Toronto, be online Friday 10am and get your Summer 16 tour tickets. I’ll see y’all out there.