I’ve seen something similar to this before, a good six years ago when I was in college myself. In the midst of Jay-Z’s first (and eventually aborted) retirement, many folks wondered if Roc-A-Fella could fully sustain ground with the loss of its number-one numbers runner (I guess not), as he and DJ Clue (I know, right?) were the only acts to have gone platinum, with everybody from Beanie Sigel to the Young Gunz only going gold or worse.
Enter Kanye West, a brash and cocky producer-on-the-mic and his debut long player, The College Dropout. A complete left turn from the normal style of music that came from Roc artists, it was critically acclaimed, widely hailed, sold a lot of records, launched his career into the stratosphere, etcetera, etcetera.
The reason I bring this up is because over the past week or so critics have essentially done the same thing with Drake and his now-leaked Thank Me Later album, citing everything from the lack of murderous, misogynistic bravado usually found on Cash Money releases to his apparent willingness to show the same sensitivity not seen since Ralph Tresvant sang a song about women needing a man like him 20 years ago. So the question remains: is Drake’s debut, Thank Me Later, the 2010 version of Kanye’s debut, The College Dropout?
In a way it’s set up to be. Similar to Roc-A-Fella when they went on that fire sale and grabbed everybody from Ol’ Dirty Bastard to Posh Spice (I mean really? Posh Spice? What, was Scary Spice too busy juggling off Donkey from Shrek to be reached?) Cash Money started signing up everything within eyesight, from Boo & Gotti to Mack 10, to remain relevant after Mannie Fresh and Juvenile bounced over money issues, Turk went to prison and BG had a teenage love affair with sour diesel, and ended up missing out on Curren$y during his short stay there. Aubrey’s presence give Young Money its best chance at proving that it’s not a glorified tax write-off when Wayne created it a few years ago.
As such, the content on TML is nothing like any other Cash Money release, eschewing the traditional swag raps and gun talk for something that’s at the very least quasi-humane and relatable, if not too sherbet-soft. I mean, at the very least I can relate to some of the stuff Drake says, which is more than I could say for the entire Baller Blockin’ movie.
However, it could be that it won’t be embraced in the same manner Kanye’s debut album was six years ago. With Wayne taking a federally-sponsored vacation, and virtually no other artist with a smidgen of noticeable buzz these days, Drake’s album could be perhaps receiving this kind of attention because quite frankly there’s really nothing else going on in music that’s even moderately intriguing these days.
Perhaps my tin foil hat is on a little too tight and I’m just looking too deep into this matter, but I swear I’ve seen the very same thing happen six years ago. Except this time I actually didn’t drive in the rain to my nearest Best Buy to buy the album. Hell, I can’t even tell you the last album I purchased. But that tale is for another time.