Know Yourself, Know Your Worth – My Thoughts On ‘Views From The 6’
April 2016 is set to be a month to remember. But with so much greatness there always comes some sadness.
There are very few people in the entertainment industry who have avoided controversy or even encountered it and become stronger than before. There are very few people in the entertainment industry who have said they are going to do something so far in advanced, and do it. As most would understand, very few have the ability to let go of their craft while they are at the top of the world. Aubrey “Drake” Graham is one of those few. Graham has done everything he can do, musically. He has been to the highest of highs and his long awaited forthcoming album, “Views From The 6” is said to be the one that solidifies it all. As someone who connects with Drake on many different levels, it’s extremely difficult but undeniable, if you know October’s Very Own (OVO) and Drake on a certain level, all signs point to partial retirement from music and Views From The 6 being heavily R&B/Jamaican infused singing (which I believe will be epic). Before we talk Views From The 6, it’s important to understand the journey that’s brought upon the thought of Drizzy using Views From The 6 to send himself off into R&B retirement.
While Aubrey Graham has been the face for Drake and OVO, you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Noah “40” Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib are the two that manage and helped create such a strong branded rapper. They and Drake have put Canada on the map like no one else was ever able to. 40’s production has grown to see the light of other artists but he will always be Drake’s right hand and is equally credited for every time I or anyone else says Drake. Oliver who sees the vision and brand for OVO has progressed Drakes career in such a manner that is so fluid and flawless, that he’s made talent managers such as myself, idolize what he’s been able to do with Drake. Their ability to create hype, keep things inside the OVO camp and keep people guessing are just some qualities that make the 3 of them killer as a brand.
Spring/Summer 2009: Best I’ve Ever Had (Single – So Far Gone)
This song was the song that helped lodge Drake onto the scene. It was really the first successful attempt at singing and rapping on the same track done by one person, without compromising either part. It blew people’s minds. The only time before then that I had heard Aubrey was on “Replacement Girl” was on his initial mixtape, Comeback Season. His urge and feel to go R&B was immediately evident, but his voice wasn’t really developed. “Best I’ve Ever Had” was the single used to gain ears and eyes for his upcoming mixtape, So Far Gone.
Spring/Summer 2010: Find Your Love (Single – Thank Me Later)
Almost exactly a year later, Drake was back at it again with another R&B single, and released “Find Your Love” as the second single following “Over” for his highly anticipated, debut album, Thank Me Later. While this single offered almost no rap, and all R&B, it once again painted the summer and allowed Drake to continue his hold on music, furthermore – tighten his grip.
Summer 2010: Thank Me Later (Debut Album)
When you look at this piece as a whole, people say it’s no comparison to Take Care (2nd Album – 2011). However, it was more than necessary in order to help Aubrey pave the road before he created his own fast lane. Because before you can have your own lane, there needs to be a an actual road. Thank Me Later is covered in R&B songs that go Rap and vise-versa. It was something that seemed so foreign at the time. Showing emotions but rapping? How can you convey love and rap at the same time? He figured out a way to do it and while a lot people bought it, many did not – this album separated the people that fucked with Aubrey Graham and the people that did not. Most didn’t know how to react to a person who was so good at rapping but so good at being vulnerable at the same damn time. This album created so much hate, jealousy, and love for him and his music that the hype for Take Care was created by forums and discussions rather than the actual promotion of the album. And this was something he continued to gain through the internet (shout out kanytothe.com).
He said this in an interview in 2010 with Complex:
“With R&B, I know my sound. I know I make records to fuck to. The way Jay and Wayne write rap, I write R&B. I don’t write lyrics down on paper. The other day, I was in the studio with Alicia Keys, and I wrote two songs just speaking to her. I wish I could write that way for rap. With my rap songs, there’s so much of me I have to give that I don’t know if I could ever just flow.”
Summer 2011: Marvin’s Room (Single – Take Care)
Another One. “Marvin’s Room” was more of a “fuck you” to all the people who began to hate on Aubrey, than it was the anthem to call your ex. It was the first single he tossed out for his most anticipated album, Take Care, which was due in the last quarter of 2011 – and it initially wasn’t even promoted. It was the most R&B-styled single he had released in his career. It had people thinking he was going to actually just sing for the rest of his career.
Winter 2011: Take Care (2nd Album)
Take Care in my opinion is one of the best albums of our time – musically, rap-wise, everything as a whole. Aubrey did a number of things on this album that often go unaccounted for when people speak on his career.
Firstly, his growth, hunger, and confidence was so evident through his music that it was essentially the pinnacle of what people who didn’t fuck with him were afraid of. The success of the sharp vocals and fluid raps. One thing I always understood about Aubrey just through listening to his music and connecting with his situations, was he is always aware of what surrounds him and he isn’t afraid to address it. The talking, the hate, the love, the consensus. Remember how I said he gained the jealous haters after Thank Me Later? On “Lord Knows” with Rick Ross, Aubrey says:
“I’m a descendent of either Marley or Hendrix – I haven’t figured it out cause my story is far from finished, I’m hearing all of the jokes, I know that they tryna push me, I know that showin’ emotion don’t ever mean I’m a pussy. Know that I don’t make music for niggas who don’t get pussy, so those are the ones I count on to diss me or overlook me”
He’s pretty clear that he is aware that people are saying that he’s “soft” for showing emotion or staying true to himself, but in the end he doesn’t care. Those people who are insecure about their feelings and themselves are the ones who can’t stand to hear Drake.
Secondly, he said things on this album that most struggle to put into words for their entire careers and he did that through his passion and love for R&B, using it as a base to create his rap verses from within. How he allows males to be in touch with those inner feelings that no one wants to admit they feel – but everyone knows they’d be lying if they said they didn’t have those thoughts – makes him even more special.
“Okay look, I’m honest, girl I can’t lie I miss you. You and the music were the only things that I commit to. I never cheated for the record, back when I was with you…
I think the city that we’re from just kind of ruined things. It’s such a small place, not much to do but talk and listen. The men are jealous and the women all in competition.”
Hard to deny any of that if you’ve ever been in a relationship – but it’s also hard to admit if you are too busy trying to be anything but yourself…he’s always preached “know yourself, know your worth – my action been louder than my words”
Summer/Fall 2013: Hold On We’re Going Home (Single – Nothing Was The Same)
After winning a Grammy for having the “Best Rap Album of the Year”, Drake took a little extra time to enjoy himself and do small projects and features, solidifying his name as one of the best in the game along with a growing population of an almost cult-like fan base online. He released a slow rap anthem called “Started From the Bottom” which generated memes, hate, love, all those feelings that he tends to make people feel. In August he was right back at it with another pre-album R&B single, called “Hold On We’re Going Home”. Even for Aubrey, this was very R&B and poppy, but he envisioned that and mentioned he wanted this to be a timeless hit “played at weddings years from now”.
Each one of his pre-album R&B singles have gotten progressively more R&B and more soul. He said this in an interview in 2013:
“I’ll be honest, there’s times I feel like I like R&B music better than I like rap music. It’s just sometimes I like listening to it whether it be classic, whether it be new. When I find myself having free time, I like melody. I wanna blur lines, and I want to blend it, because, like I said, I embrace it at this point. If you think I sing too much now, just wait ’til I’m 33 and I do this straight.”
Fall 2013: Nothing Was The Same (3rd album)
He essentially did it all on this album. While many may try and compare it to Take Care, and say it wasn’t as strong – I believe differently. Another reason I see Drake as one of the great musicians of our time is his ability to convey his life as it is in the present time through his music. So while he isn’t viciously coming at people like he did on “The Ride” off of Take Care, he’s grown into someone who’s so sure himself and of where he is in life, he doesn’t need to address the people that don’t fuck with him. You can hear it through his voice, through his vocals, and through his lyrics. Best example: “All Me (feat. 2-Chainz & Big Sean) and “Tuscan Leather” (his intros and outros usually set the tone for how he feels if you didn’t notice)
“I’m getting 20 million just to offer these records, nigga, that’s a record”
Then you had a track like “Come Thru” that is so versatile no one had ever successfully rapped and sang AT THE SAME TIME.
People over look artistry by using comparison as a unit of measure but my idea of artistry is individual pieces and the ability to tell a story project by project, year by year, because we are all different people in different places in our life.
Early-Spring 2015: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (4th Album/Mixtape)
He shocked the world by releasing this. Some speculate it was done purely for legal reasons – to maybe fulfill a contract he didn’t want to be in anymore (which is why he called it a mixtape but it was released as an album).
But by this time you’ve grown to realize his surprise release showed more than music itself – it showed power and the hold he had on the cultural/musical world.
And if that’s a mixtape, we are in for something special with Views From The 6.
“Please do not speak to me like I’m that Drake from 4 years ago – I’m at a higher place”.
Through seeing his love for R&B, his constant use to preface his albums, and the “new wave” and direction that he has said to be taking Views From The 6 in, you can expect less rap but more great music that you can connect to and will paint your summer like he’s done so many times before. I would expect more of “Controlla” and “Work” (Rihanna song he is featured on) styled music – what people like to call Dancehall or Jamaican, a rap with singing flow.
When I mentioned Drake leaving music in some realms to my friends, they are immediately taken aback and sort of think I’m crazy. But the signs are there. The clothing line is booming, he’s opened up a label, he’s launching a new whiskey, and he’s investing in start-up companies. So while he may still make music, it will be nowhere near close what were used to hearing from Aubrey Graham before.
Views From The 6 could come out at any moment, and while some may disagree I see this as the end for the Drake we’ve grown to know and at this point most have grown to love, for what he represents, what he’s given to musical world, and his ability to be a rapper as well as a role model for kids around the world.
The one thing I took away, learned, and appreciated most from Aubrey Graham wasn’t actually the music he created (although it was incredible). Rather, he made it okay to be whoever you are – as a person, as an artist, as whoever. Through his career he’s done that consistently, day in and day out. Whether it’s the dance moves that seem so natural or the genuine smile you feel like could be one of your friends’. He loves to be loved and enjoys every moment of it even when he’s hated. He shows the world that through being yourself, you can do anything, and you can be loved and hated but at the end of the day, you’re you and that’s worth more than anything.
So the thought of one my biggest inspirations musically, culturally, and morally, leaving the scene is a hard thought to process – but he was never meant to be someone for us, he was just here being himself.
Written By Kamyaar Butt