When I was a junior in high school, way back in 2007, Drake had just dropped his first project — “Comeback Season” — which was actually one of my favorite projects that year (and that was a big year for hip-hop).
I was checking for Drake’s “Comeback Season” for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was a fan of “Degrassi”– which you should know was a Canadian teen-drama series, I actually think the show is still running but I stopped watching after the original cast left — and Drake was on the original cast, his character in later years actually became a rapper. Secondly, I was a “hip-hop nerd” so once Drake started getting buzz on the hip-hop sites, I was going to know. The hip-hop sites were definitely giving Drake a nice buzz from the jump — him collaborating with artists like Lil Wayne, Little Brother, Elzhi, Malice, and Trey Songz definitely didn’t hurt though.
Shortly after “Comeback Season,” Drake grew a tighter relationship with Lil Wayne — who was easily the hottest rapper in hip-hop at the time — so, Drake’s exposure was through-the-roof. Drake didn’t run from the spotlight, in fact he did the opposite in 2009 by dropping a giant project — “So Far Gone.”
Drake was now looked at as the next big thing in music, and he has been that. He’s been the most popular artist in hip-hop since dropping “So Far Gone” but he lost me as a fan very shortly after that project. His flows became annoying, his singing was terrible, his topics were one-dimensional, and frankly I thought most of the music he was making was straight-up wack.
Being a self-proclaimed “music snob,” I would still listen to every Drake project when it dropped and try doing so with objectivity but he definitely made that a tough task for me. His debut studio album, “Thank Me Later” just sounded lazy from beginning to end — that is an awful album.
People tell me “Take Care” is great! I do not know what those people were listening to. “Take Care” is also when I was first introduced to The Weeknd. After sitting through the depressing album that was “Take Care,” I checked out some of The Weeknd’s music (“House Of Balloons,” “Thursday,” and “Echoes Of Silence“) and quickly discovered how influenced Drake must have been by The Weeknd when making “Take Care” because The Weeknd’s music was also very depressing.
After my experience with “Take Care” and skimming through The Weeknd’s catalog, I accepted the music they make just isn’t my cup-of-tea and just moved on to better things like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Run The Jewels, and so on.
I will always want creativity out of the music I listen to, whether that be through flow, lyrics, concepts, or whatever else — I cannot listen to one-dimensional music where every song sounds exactly the same or has the same vibe, but that is what I got from those early mixtapes from The Weeknd and I just felt Drake was being lazy (or maybe he was just spreading himself too thin with all of the features).
I gave Drake another chance in 2013 by listening to his third studio album, “Nothing Was The Same” and I enjoyed it a great deal. I thought Drake was very innovative on this project and created a different sound (which he hadn’t done, in my opinion, since “So Far Gone”). Although, I did like “Nothing Was The Same,” I never craved to revisit it.’
At the beginning of this year, Drake surprised everyone by releasing a project — “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” — on iTunes without any announcement. Upon my first listen to “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late,” I enjoyed the project, Drake was aggressive and he was really rapping. “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” has gotten the most replay from me of any Drake project since “Comeback Season.”
Coincidentally, the year Drake is on fire — with the release of “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” and destroying Meek Mill in an supposed “rap beef” — The Weeknd is also dominating the radio with songs like “The Hills” and “Earned It” (songs I actually like a lot). But I didn’t think anything really of the impact these songs were having on me until The Weeknd decided to switch things up and drop this tune that sounds like some new age Michael Jackson shit (yes, I went that far with it), “Can’t Feel My Face.” When I first heard “Can’t Feel My Face” I immediately started craving a full-length project from The Weeknd — it was such a confusing moment for me, I went from thinking The Weeknd was this “just OK”-singer with a melancholy sound to comparing him to Michael Jackson and wanting to hear more from him.
The Weeknd released his second studio album, “Beauty Behind
The Madness,” on August 28th and just days before the album’s release, he released a video for the song “Tell Your Friends” (produced by Kanye West), after hearing this song I knew I was going to absolutely love his album. There was no question about it. He released five videos for this album and every video was for a pretty great song. Now, here I am just eight days removed from the release date of “Beauty Behind The Madness” and I must say, I love that album. It may be the best R&B album (if it is even considered R&B) I’ve heard since Usher’s “Confessions.”
I have been so critical of these two artists in the past that it is almost comical how much I enjoy their latest projects so I was compelled to make a playlist of my favorite songs from “if You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late” and “Beauty Behind The Madness” and named the playlist “the unJustyn.”