The months, weeks, and days leading up to the release of an album gargantuan as Views From The Six, constructed by hip-hop’s most dominant, social-media friendly figurehead (Drizzy Drake of course), tend to be a prolonged flurry of untamed and reactionary emotions. Ever since the ‘started from the bottom’ mantra ran its snowy course and Drake announced the title of his next body of work, the OVO faithful have been perched up on the top floor of the Internet, scrambling for clues while Drake metaphorically sat atop Toronto’s CN Tower (memes of Drake’s photoshopped album artwork are a click away) plotting his next moves.
Proving his power as rap’s supreme entertainer, Drake ensured we remained engrossed in his artistry throughout 2015. His swaggering 17-track platinum mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, finessing of turning a ghostwriting allegation into a lopsided verbal lashing of Meek Mill, GIF classic/chart topping single “Hotline Bling”, and perfect timing of a joint project with Future were more than enough to keep Drake in the headlines. But April is here and Views From The 6 is only a day and some from being premiered on Apple Music, accompanied by a special edition of OVO Sound Radio featuring a sure-to-be insightful Drake interview with Zane Lowe. As we count down the final hours, what better time than now to preview Drake’s vision for Views and explore the idea of how this album can live up to a wide variety of expectations.
The balancing act between spreading awareness and flat-out exploitation of Drake’s musical inspirations is a debate that materialized long before the Views era. However, the ‘cultural appropriation’ controversy picked up steam in the past few months as the clear-cut dancehall influences of tracks such as “Hotline Bling”, Rihanna’s buzzing single “Work”, leaked Popcaan collaboration “Controlla”, and most recent radio-ready hit “One Dance” are all explicit examples of Drake’s strong immersion into the sounds of Jamaica. Drake’s affinity for these sort of riddims is no accident and not by chance.
Toronto is a diverse, multi-faceted area and while Drake has brought warmth to his depictions of dark, cold, lonely nights in the north before, Views is going to be the moment in which the heavy Caribbean populace of the city is represented through his own personal storytelling. The ripple effect from this decision (aka who benefits/gets shunned once Drake’s mission is complete) remains as a more convoluted discussion, but analyzing the long-term impact of the music is what truly matters in the grand scheme of things. Whether or not you believe Drake is truly capable and deserving of the platform to bring worldwide exposure to dancehall via his own spin on reggaeton tunes dear to his heart, Views will surely be shaped by his longstanding desire to carry his passionate infatuations to new heights.
For those who are worried Views will be a strict rendition of a reggae album, have no fear. Drake’s obsessive drive to be respected not only as the world’s top rapper, but also hip-hop’s most versatile musician, is still in full-force and his perfectionist qualities are bound to resonate. With trustworthy producer 40 being on Drake’s side throughout the entire creative process, the sonic landscape will be a natural progression from the innovative production these two have masterfully conjured together in their unshakable musical marriage. One would think the list of Views collaborators are based in the 416 or 647 (specifically OVO brethren such Majid Jordan, PartyNextDoor, Roy Woods). But really, it is anybody’s game to determine the outside voices/production wizards who will lend their hand in shaping an atmosphere appropriate for Drake’s recollections of both memories in Toronto and homegrown perspective of the events that have molded him into the global icon he stands as today.
While Drake is revered as an impactful force in the industry, there is an odd level of concern surrounding Views From The 6 days before its release. Many fans were underwhelmed by “Pop Style”, a record fit to be an epic collaboration considering guest appearances from Kanye West and (momentarily) Jay Z. The marketing behind the album has been relatively scaled back aside from billboards in cities such as Toronto and London. But as the eyes of the Views advertisements look down upon the people in a fashion reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, every move made by Drake seems to be strategically calculated because he knows no other way to operate. He wants us to doubt him; he is licking at the chops thinking of how he will command the Internet’s attention once he reveals an all-encompassing album crafted as a magnum opus.
With reportedly 20 songs on the way, a two-sided/double disc LP is not out of the realm of possibility. Views has the potential to be Drake’s most conceptually ambitious work to date and as an artist, finally being ready to deliver polarizing material is what we should expect from someone of Drake’s caliber. A perfected formula that becomes effortless starts to lose its appeal when it results in the same recipe over and over again. Some listeners would whole-heartedly accept an updated take on his previous albums, but this time around, Drake is primed to challenge us and deliver a new product with qualities we may not instantly understand or embrace. We are less than 48 hours away from hearing how Drake’s progression and vision will ultimately materialize, but one thing is for sure…it will be a view to remember.