Ok, so this is a little late, but... yeah. Much love to the Shameless Plug team (Bem, Jabari, Fadia).
The day after the much-hyped Drake show, I got a lot of phone calls from folks wondering what I thought about it. While dude has a lot of excitement surround him, many of my "industry" friends are still skeptical about him. They wonder if:
1-he has staying power
2- the hype is deserved
3-the excitement surrounding dude will actually transfer into album sales.
My answer to all three questions? Yes.
Now, I admittedly only got hip to Drake a few months ago and have listened only to the So Far Gone mixtape-- even though I know he has a bit of a back catalogue that spans about three years. Is he the best lyricist this side of Phonte or Bun or Blu (who he kinda reminds me of)? Nah. Is he nevertheless a very good rapper? Yes. But mostly he has the ability to make good songs-- and for me, that makes him a winner.
But on to the show... I'm going to tell you a few things that I learned and some of the folks in attendance should've learned:
1- You can't get on stage and get mad at the crowd for not knowing who the hell you are.
This is a lesson that I'm sure Danny Swain learned well. I interviewed dude for Creative Loafing recently-- actually in conjunction w/ this performance and he seems like a nice enough, well put together guy. His music is good (he produces and is an emcee). But yikes. His performance at this huge show was-- well, sadly wack. For one thing, the band wasn't really in sync with him, which made the music sound like it wasn't cohesive. But that's not the thing that really hurt him. I've seen many, many shows where the music sounds much, much, much worse. The problem was his attitude. He kept stopping mid-song to rant about how folks didn't know who he was, so they were somehow uncool. I'm pretty sure most of the audience had never heard of him before. So, it was silly to expect them to sing-a-long, or really even bob their heads in enthusiasm. Instead of taking it in stride, Danny seemed a little peeved. "They don't know I'm the truth!" he said increduosly to his hype-man, O (who incidentally produced "Smoke 1" for Anthony David I learned via Twitter).
At one point, dude even mentioned how much (or how little) he was being paid, and insulted Drake, the headliner, saying that he had charted higher on the Billboard charts than the former Degrassi star. Bad move, dude. The crowd boo'd and promptly started chanting "We want Drake!" In all of my many, many years of attending shows in Atlanta, I have never, EVER heard anyone get boo'd. Ever. Call it a perfect storm. You can't insult a crowd of early 20-somethings and 19 year-olds who have waited outside in line for over 3 hours to see a sold-out show that is not headlined by you. And you especially can't insult them by questioning their hipness. Hell, they are the very definition of hip, in theory.
It's sad. As I said before, Danny's music is actually good. Hopefully next time out he can show that to everyone else.
2- If you have a great show, it doesn't matter if no one has ever heard of you. I guarantee most of the people in the audience were not familiar with Jaspects. But because their show is so precise, they won them over any way-- and they came on after Danny.
3- Kids of today are not as genre-specific as late 20, early 30-somethings. These kids of today grew up with the all-inclusive version of MTV, avidly watch Britney Spears specials, think Pharrell is a cool old guy, love watching Degrassi as much as they do Friday and have no problem dating black, white, hispanic, male or female. Drake, I think represents this new mindstate to the T. He's a bright-skinned rapper with ties to the ultra-cool mainstream hipster Lil Wayne, he smiles brightly on stage while talking about wanting to wash women's feet and run bath water for them, he starred on an "introspective" high school show (based in Canada, no less) and has no problem embracing cute R&B singers (Trey Songz) on stage. And there you have it. This kid is a winner.
Drake and his BFF, Trey Songz.5- Drake is a star. One of my friends called me wondering if his buzz will transfer into records sales. Now, let it be clear that talking about record sales and money made in music generally bores me. I think urban music is too focused on first week sales and therefore misses the bigger picture. I also think urban music fans talk business waaaaaaaay too much, instead of simply talking about the music---there's a number of reasons for this, which I won't get into today.
4- Universal Motown is becoming the new Interscope. Remember when Interscope was snatching up all of the Cyber-spawned rappers? (the Knux, Wale, Charles Hamilton)... Now it must be Universal Motown's turn with the signings of Asher Roth and now Drake.
The point is, yes, I think his hype will translate into legimate sales, worldwide fans and Dasani commericals. While right now, he's being compared to the Asher Roth's, Cool Kids, Wale's, Charles Hamiltons and Kid Cudi's of the world, for me, Drake's genuine charisma and connection to people is undeniable (unlike Asher or Charles Hamilton who have both made questionable comments while making "okay" music). And no matter how much you hate the hype-machine that already surrounds him, I haven't heard anyone say that his music is not good. I've heard folk say that it wasn't anything to go ape shit over, or that they need to hear more, but I've yet to hear anyone just plain out say that his music is wack (unlike Mickey Factz).
While Wale should enjoy long-term success, unless he goes all world-music with it like say, K'nan or Will.I.Am (which is something he maybe should consider) I don't expect him to be a mega-star (this is not to suggest that Wale even cares about such things).
Drake makes good music, but mostly-- he's an entertainer.
That alone will allow him to win.
Drake serenades the ladies w/ his slightly nasally vocals. Oh well, they loved it... one lip-gloss, bright-pink wearing, mega-hoop sporting girl behind me screeched out, "F-ck me, Drake!" with all of her might. Enough said.