This week, Drake dropped the next chapter of his musical catalogue More Life which he is adamantly coining as his 1st ever playlist. Before we dive into our thoughts on the playlist, I wanted to lay the foundations of how Bread N Butter Presents will always review music.
To be clear, this is not an area where we will talk about how hip hop is dead or the lyrics didn’t have substance. Ever. All those things, I (along with my team) could care less about. Reason being, we believe the goal of any musician should always be to 1) Receive positive feedback from YOUR FANS (not niche hard core bloggers, rap enthusiasts, and award show committees) and 2) Make enough income to finance your music operation and make music your full-time gig and career. In an economy where jobs are scarce in every industry and in a music game so competitive and clique-ish, it’s that simple. If you don’t receive positive feedback from your fans AND you aren’t making any money, you’ve got to tweak your approach and possibly your music.
In 2015, Drake told Fader “I’m trying to make music for your life.” Pulling from just about every musical experiment Drake has played with in the studio over the last seven years, More Life attempted to do just that. Drake’s goal was apparent: More Life was meant to be like an episode of his bi-weekly OVO Sound Radio podcast (available to Apple Music subscribers only). Reflecting his current regional and international musical preferences, the all Drake playlist is a continuous play curation which we feel accomplishes exactly what he set out to do.
After spending a lot of time ourselves listening to what people are saying about the list, it would appear that the critics appear to agree while not many of the people in our own network do. When canvassing friends, family, and associates; I keep hearing “it wasn’t as good as Views, If You’re Reading this…, and Take Care.”
I swear…every time Drake drops a project a divide between fans and critics happens.
This revelation made us think: Why does this happen? Why are feelings on Drake so mixed? We believe the answer is quite apparent when you dig a little deeper:
In their review of More Life, Complex Magazine writer Frazier Tharpe made the following statement: “Mediocrity is death. The king best not miss, and he certainly cannot disappear for a sabbatical after releasing lifeless, auto pilot Sunken Place music – which is exactly what we got last year…Views sounded vacant…Luckily for Drake, the action is the juice...More Life is a rebuke of everything that was wrong with Views...” As you continue to read the piece, he mentions View’s massive success with fans numerous times and clearly brushes it off as if it means nothing which is something the experts do ALL THE TIME and it blows my mind.
I understand the whole notion of making music for more than just selling records…making music for the artistry of it, but to simply ignore the opinion of the people who are behind the rise and fall of artists AND magazines like Complex alike is, to say the least, disturbing. Here’s a guy who sat on Billboard’s top 100 for more than 400 consecutive weeks and, according to the critics, it means nothing; the music was vacant. Herein lies Drake’s dilemma: He aims to appeal to too many target audiences.
Students of the game will tell you, in marketing, you learn all about the importance of researching and understanding who your target audience and demographics are. The more you know about them the better. You can directly speak to them, you can better address their needs, and connecting becomes all the easier. When Drake first came out, he was different. He had bars and he could sing with harmony. He rapped and sang his own hooks. Plenty of people tried to do this before, but they always lacked on one side of the coin. Either they had weak flow or they couldn’t sing without autotune.
Drake didn’t and, because of this, he attracted two very different demographics of people both of which have very different musical needs and tastes. I was always taught that creating a product/service that aims at many different target audiences can pose some serious branding issues in the long run. I honestly believe this is what we are seeing here.
Drake is even feeling it himself. In an interview with DJ Semtex on OVO Sound Radio in February, he said “There was a time where I thought about actually taking rap off of Views and just making it an album full of music that made me happy with melody. But obviously I know why I’m here, I know who my core fan base is, and so toward the end of the album, I tried to execute it as best I could on the rap end.”
Now, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably thinking…Okay, so what’s your point? What is he to do? How can he bridge the gap? My answer is simple: DO NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Why? F*ck the critics. If you are an artist: Make music for your fans and for yourself. If your fans support you enough to let you ride 400+ weeks on Billboard, who cares about what us keyboard warriors have to say. Keep your fans happy and DO YOU BRUH.
As far as the playlist goes, I loved it. Free Smoke, Passion Fruit, Jorja Interlude, Get it together, Madiba Riddim, Blem, Gyalchester, Portland, Sacrifices, Lose You, Ice Melts, and Do Not Disturb are all joining my everyday playlist with Madiba Riddim, Blem, Gyalchester, Lose You, and Do Not Disturb being my favs.
What do you think? Which side of the Drake divide are you on?
Let us know in the comments!
Until then, "Take Care."