One of the most successful and divisive rappers of the past decade, Drake, recently celebrated his 31 birthday on October 24. Drake has been popular ever since his initial debut to the rap scene with his mega hit “Best I Ever Had,” which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, along with his other hits from his breakthrough mixtape/EP So Far Gone and his signing to Lil Wayne’s Young Money label. Just earlier this year, he recently broke his streak of most consecutive weeks on the Hot 100 with 430 weeks in total. The question is how Drake has been able to maintain this longevity within the success to the point that he hasn’t sold under 500,000 copies first week with an album since Thank Me Later, which still sold 447,000 and leads solo acts in Hot 100 charting songs with 154.
The key to his success has been his versatility, adaptability, and, most importantly, the quality of his music.
When Drake was first coming up, and even to this day, he was frequently questioned about whether he was a rapper or not because he would sing almost as much as he would rap. That variety always worked to his favor, though, because it made him more available to fans of different genres.
If you ever listen to a full Drake album, he has always implemented different genres within them, whether it be rap, R&B, pop, and even more recently, reggae and afrobeat. For all of the public scrutiny that he’s gotten for being a “culture vulture,” making songs like “Controlla” and “One Dance” help open him up to Jamaican and African audiences, respectively, and even featuring people like Skepta, Jorja Smith, and Giggs on More Life helped open him up to a British audience.
In fact, although most fans would say that it’s not one of his best projects, More Life was the best display of his versatility as he touched on every style of music that he’s known for at least once.
That versatility also opens lanes for adaptability within music. An artist is not only judged on how he/she performs on his own music, but he/she performs on other people’s songs, and Drake is known to take other artists’ songs and make them his own.
He arguably helped launch Migos’ career with his verse on their breakthrough hit “Versace,” and although he took their flow, his verse was the one that was played in the Versace runway. Another example would be when he also helped launched ILoveMakonnen’s career in a similar way with his feature on “Tuesday,” which helped the song reach #11 on the Hot 100.
The ability to adapt to other artists and make versatile music only works, though, because of the quality of his music.
The reason that he’s had 154 songs on the Hot 100 is because people genuinely enjoy his music, and he generally gets good reviews by critics, with only one of his albums, Views, earning under a 75 rating from the website, Metacritic, which adds all critic reviews of a project and gives the average score.
Whether you love him or hate him, Drake has been one of the most successful artists of this decade and seems like he’ll only leave our ears when he chooses to. Even when he does choose to leave, we’ll still hear him through the multitude of artists he’s inspired, like Bryson Tiller, Tory Lanez, 6lack, and plenty of others.