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Breaking Down Drake Vs. Kanye West: A Detailed History

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Both Drake’s first three albums and Kanye’s first three albums (for comparison’s sake, we’ll leave out everything after Graduation), is that both trios defined and explored a sound, ethos and overall theme, and took them to what seems like a logical conclusion. Kanye would go on to change the face of hip-hop with 808s And Heartbreak—whether you liked the album or not—while Drake is poised to step out of the brooding emo-rap he cultivated on Thank Me Later, perfected on Take Care and expanded on Nothing Was The Same.

What Kanye and Drake each do with their music is inherently different, even if you want to lump them both lyrically into the overly-emotive-rapper trend. One way can be to look at each rapper’s chart success with their first three albums, but even that doesn’t indicate much; each of Drake’s debuted at No. 1, while only Norah Jones’ platinum-selling Feels Like Home kept Kanye’s debut, College Dropout, from the No. 1 spot, thus doing the same as Drake. It’s easy to look at first week sales, as below:

kanye drake album sales

…but that distinction can be waved away by the changes the Internet and streaming services have brought to the music industry over the past decade. Lyrically and culturally they can be regarded as at the very highest level in their respective lanes; Kanye took the backpack rap ethos mainstream (though he thought to stop and apologize to Mos and Kweli—and, later, Spike Lee as well—for his indulgence in the finer things), while Drake made damn sure that no one would brood about another man’s girlfriend at 2 in the morning without thinking about him doing it first. And by the third album, the tone of each had turned defiant and triumphant, as they both took their places at the table of the biggest rappers in the world.

As long as each album grew bigger than the last, you can say that each was pushing forward. Platinum status will take care of everything else.

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