On this day, June 15, in hip-hop history…
2010: Drake is one of those special cases who didn’t fall under pressure and exceeded expectations. When the Toronto MC was coming up, he has been embraced by hip-hop heavyweights such as Lil Wayne, Clipse, and Bun B. 2009’s So Far Gone is still a major launching point for his career, dropping an endless array of hits from the tape including “Best I Ever Had” and “Successful.” Drizzy’s career highlights just kept stacking up during the road to his debut album release, Thank Me Later.
He sold 500,000 copies of the So Far Gone EP just off the popularity of his mixtape, and received two Grammy nominations from it that added to his hype. Then, the rising star went on to become a proven hitmaker with major posse cuts with Young Money (“Forever,” “Bedrock,” “Money To Blow”), before Thank Me Later even drops. All eyes and ears were on Aubrey, but it’s not like he had any worries.
Drake had one chance to impress on a commercial level and he delivered with Thank Me Later. Drizzy expressed that it was “a solid hip hop album,” with strong influences from Nas and Andre 3000 for certain moments. Fans gravitated towards the album for its ambient production and emotional vulnerability, similar to what Kanye West achieved in 808s & Heartbreak. At the same time, Drake showcased his versatility as an rap/R&B force in songs like “The Resistance” and “Find Your Love.” Lyrically, Drake held his own next to his idols (Jay-Z, Lil Wayne), as well as his contemporaries (Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy.)
Like many anticipated releases, Drake suffered from an early leak before its June 15 street date. However, Drake still debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 447,000 copies in the first week. Moving past the strong sales numbers, music critics also commended Drake’s personal themes on the album that touched on his newfound fame and romances. Overall, Thank Me Later built the foundation for Drake’s atmospheric and introspective style that has grown into its own entity in hip-hop. It goes without saying that the album is widely regarded as his best solo effort. You can thank him now.