A Brief Anthology
of Drake’s Reign as Lord of the Memes
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if Drake is popular or if he’s just abundantly present.
His astronomical success is almost as much built upon a currency of saturation and overexposure as it is hit records. For many, it’s a huge turn-off – he’s the embodiment of a culture where grabbing headlines by constantly dispensing short-lived fads is a viable means to global superstardom. Even if you don’t like him, he’s there. There’s a science to this truly modern form of marketing.
Across his tenure as rap’s keenest student, Drake and camp OVO have craftily created a series of images, videos, catchphrases and real-life moments which are abstract enough to be unique and distinctive, yet malleable enough to be customised by every single human being with a pulse, a 3G connection, and access to the cry-laugh emoji.
You could say Drake’s road to the throne has been paved by these pixels of disposable yet indelible content. His reign reflects a shift in marketing methods insofar as the bulk of the promotion is done by the fans. Drake drops a blank canvas then the millions of followers and commentators churn out their versions, ensuring the image gets rooted down in to the timeline while Drake himself looks on with a shrug. The most telling observation about the Hotline Bling video was how his dance moves seemed to fit any song. They were purposefully nonspecific – ready to be cut and pasted on to any audio which sprung to mind.
It’s the polar opposite of “Top down marketing”. That is the traditional mode where brands “come up with a great idea and then broadcast executions that will leave memorable brand impressions in people’s minds.” Drake isn’t treating his audience as passive onlookers, they are the active, driving force of his promotional circus. These people are not receiving. They are interacting, customising, and – most importantly – sharing. It doesn’t have to be an image either. It can be a motto (literally), a hook, just something digestible to be shared among the masses. On his command, they unleash hell.
His online omnipresence is also – in part – down to his knack for self-referencing. He shares memes about himself on his Instagram and laces his lyrics with nods to how the public perceive him. Once he’s laid the foundation for an internet sensation and the memes come flooding in, he chuckles and shares them as if he had no idea things would take off this much! Like omg! You guys are crazy! Wtf!!!!
However you view his pervasive grasp on cyberspace, Drake’s reign looks set to continue. The cover art for Views, which he dropped this week, is another textbook example. There’s enough blank space for you to join him, but he’s distinctive and detachable enough for you to pick him up and drag-and-drop him to your heart’s content. To celebrate another milestone in the 6 God’s rule over the timeline, we put together this potted anthology of his time as undefeated overlord of the meme. The highs and lows, what a journey it has been! Long may it continue. And in case you hadn’t heard, Views From The 6 drops tomorrow.
Drake’s willingness to share photos from college, stills from his days spent starring in teen drama Degrassi, and more bar mitzvah footage than you’ve ever seen ever have been the cause for a lot of early meme action.
Don’t make us explain this to you and don’t make us tell you it worked.
Nothing Was The Same (2013)
The classic formula – 3 easily removable components (young Drake, Drake, the sky) ready to be meme’d into the mainframe of your psyche.
The Lint Roller (2014)
If it’s not a music video, an artwork or a lyric, what else can Drake give us? A moment. Perhaps the Drake-iest move Drake has ever been caught making. Sitting courtside watching his beloved Toronto Raptors when he gets caught on camera lint-rolling his trousers. The timeline melted and the Raptors eventually collaborated with OVO on a limited run of lint rollers. What is going on? Can I leave earth?
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late (2015)
What is the most adaptable thing ever? WORDS. For his critically acclaimed surprise album in 2015, the title was written on the cover in a spidery handwriting. Within 24 hours, a website was created where people could make their own version. People did.
Madonna kiss at Coachella (2015)
Please don’t make me watch it again.
Drake – Charged Up/Back To Back (2015)
When Meek Mill accused Drake of using a ghostwriter Drake responded with not one but two diss tracks. Whilst Milli’s fans sat silently doing crochet or whatever it is they do, Drake fans wasted no time in making memes, because of course they did. Drake later took to the stage at OVO fest and performed in front of all the memes. The results were, of course, Nobel prize level genius.
Hotline Bling (2015)
Hotline Bling was perhaps the ultimate meme machine. Parodies and tributes to Drake’s sweater, dance moves, hand gestures, and giant illuminated room came flooding in from pretty much anyone with five minutes and an iPhone. Donald Trump even got involved…
Views from the 6 (2016)
The moment Drake shared the artwork for his latest album Views from the 6 you can bet the snipers had their sights set firmly on its meme-ability. Whether Drake knew it or not he’d created a certified 10.0 and opened a black hole to a whole new dimension of Drizzy lols.
Words: Duncan Harrison + Billy Black