Few albums, outside of Beyoncé’s Lemonade, were more anticipated than Drake’s recently released set Views from the 6. Since the release of Nothing Was the Same in fall 2013, Drake has kept fans waiting with baited breath for the release of a new album. He has made mention of finding a new artistic direction in a variety of interviews.
The Canadian crooner has moved away from the ballads and love based laments that made him famous and has begun to embrace the sounds of other countries and regions. His new album features collaborations with Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan, Nigerian singer/songwriter Wizkid, and Atlanta trap rap impresario Future.
There are numerous artists making their mark on the industry as we speak that owe some sort of stylistic debt to the early works of Drake, including R&B Lothario Bryson Tiller and pop hedonist The Weeknd. However, it remains to be seen whether Drake’s sudden turn into the worlds of dancehall, Afropop and trap rap will yield the same results as his earlier direction.
When he was first introduced to the worlds of rap, pop and R&B, Drake had many people to gain inspiration from. His early work was greatly influenced by the melancholy strains of Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak. He also took cues from the battle rap stylings of Lil Wayne’s early material. As time went on, Drake was able to synthesize these influences, and his sound coalesced into something more adhesive.
With greats such as Kanye, Jay Z and Lil’ Wayne bowing out of the rap game, Drake is left to fend off up and coming challengers such as Kendrick Lamar and J Cole. It remains to be seen whether Views from the 6 will alienate current fans or inspire new ones.
Those who are looking to understand the influence of Drake on the modern musical landscape need to look no further than the current radio playlists. It is exciting to imagine a universe where more rappers are taking influences from reggae based cadences and trying their best to make anthems that call back to the days when Shaggy and Sean Paul ruled the pop charts.
Views from the 6 represents a major crossroad in Drake’s career. Either audiences will embrace the new direction that he has taken, allowing him to continue reinterpreting the sounds of regions that inspire him musically, or he will be met with derisive jeers from audiences who see his new music as being opportunistic (i.e. not genuine). Only time will tell.