If Drake has become a brand, his new album is a capsule collection

“I like? No! Does it have sixty million monthly listeners? Chapeau! Does it sell a lot? Chapeau! It’s important? Chapeau! Do I like him as an artist? No. Do I put it among the greatest in history? No! My personal opinion. I’ll be wrong, Amen. For me it is quality, refinement, Ventola! “When I think of Drake, Cassano speaks of Cristiano Ronaldo, or that famous leitmotiv in vogue on the left during the years of the Berlusconi governments, according to which no one said to vote for him, but then it was always there. Drake is a bit like that. When a newspaper publishes a news about him, the comments on social networks are filled with insults: both those who do not like rap, who consider him the perfect embodiment of a now commercial genre, all aimed at the search for the immediate hit, do not like it. , both to those who love rap, and consider Drake a mediocre artist, one who copies, one that is too little street, with too many ghostwriters, who has nothing to do with hip hop culture. Meanwhile, the famous general public, especially the younger one, doesn’t give a damn about all this and has made him one of the biggest stars in the world by dint of repeated listening to his hits.

One of the most common criticisms leveled at him is that of being a sort of vampire, or perhaps a bot controlled by an algorithm: he tunes in on what the current trend may be and appropriates it. He launched into hyperspace that kind of rap / sung and a little depressed, on a minimal basis, which before him was an almost underground phenomenon, and then moved on to do similar operations with trap, with grime, with drill. , with Latin music, with Jamaican music … It is interesting to note, however, that his vampirism, given its relevance, is also able to influence and shape what comes after him, and it is particularly interesting to note now that he has just released his seventh album, Honestly, Nevermind.

The album comes less than a year after the release of the previous one Certified Lover Boy, which despite having obviously done some crazy numbers had been decidedly little appreciated by critics. Never as in that record Drake did not anticipate anything, did not drive anything: it looked like an album made by an automatic Drake song generator, always the same lyrics, always the same sounds, always the usual solutions, repeated for 86 endless minutes. And who knows that he too (and when I say him of course I mean “him and his team”) did not realize that something was wrong, given the surprising direction taken with this new job.

Suddenly left after announcing it just a few hours earlier, Honestly, Nevermind is certainly Drake’s most surprising record: rap has almost completely disappeared, and he escapes, singing almost from behind the scenes, like a crooner or a vocalist in a disco, to music that with a surge of courage would almost come from shamelessly define deep house, with also Afrobeats influences (not to be confused with Fela Kuti’s Afrobeat, the term indicates a genre that blends elements of rap, r & b and dancehall widespread especially in Nigeria and Ghana, where it is in effect the sound of radio pop, and has now become popular also in the UK – a country to which Drake always looks with interest). Since Drake is able to shape the sound of the mainstream on a global level, it is legitimate to ask whether in a year’s time the rap mixed with these sounds will be the trend set in radios all over the world, including Italy.

While Tresor, Black Coffee and Esona Tyolo’s appearances on the album are crucial for the afrobeats element, the album’s general club mood seems heavily influenced by a wave of very popular European producers who come together under the aegis of the collective. Keinemusik from Berlin: it is no coincidence that two of its three main exponents, & ME and Rampa (the third is Adam Port), are among the credits of a couple of tracks on the album, including “Falling Back”, which is its launch single. And the record sounds really good: it’s really a very nice, original, contemporary club electronic record… with Drake’s voice on it. Which, for heaven’s sake, as we said, tends not to overdo it, but is still present. How to stamp him.

Never as in this (nice) record it is clear in fact that Drake, with respect to musical trends, seems to perform a function very much in line with the spirit of the times: it is as if he were a testimonial, an influencer who promotes other music, it is as if that of Drake was a brand, and had made a capsule collection. The voice of Drake on the music of those of Keinemusik is like the logo of the eye drawn by Chiara Ferragni on the Nespresso pods: the product is always the same but the presence of that brand, of that testimonial, of that influencer multiplies its reach towards an enormously wider audience, ready as always to welcome every new release of Toronto’s Very Own with memes, dance on TikTok, reactions and all kinds of content able to act as a visibility multiplier. That’s how music works today, and no one understood it quite like Drake (and his team, of course).

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