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DRAKE Memes Are Made Of This

Drake new Image

“Drake’s use of ‘YOLO’ in The Motto popularised the phrase making it prominent in everyday conversations and splashed across clothing around the world. Drake has since apologised for unleashing this word on the masses in a recent appearance on Saturday Night Live.”

Drake, one of the most critically acclaimed rap artists of this century, headlines Future Music Festival on Sunday, March 1, at HBF Arena and performs at Perth Arena on Monday, March 3, supported by 2Chainz.

What is it about the Toronto rapper that has led him to be dubbed ‘the leader of the new skool?’ DEMELZA LEONARD uncovers the secret to Drake’s popularity.

It’s hard to imagine that one of today’s most influential MCs got his start playing a wheelchair bound student on a spin-off of Degrassi High; but this is the case for Drake, the Jewish rapper hailing from Toronto, Canada.

Since his introduction to the rap game in 2006, Drake consistently sees himself the topic of conversation. He hasn’t grown up on the East or West Coast of the US yet he has participated in a number rap/artist beefs (Chris Brown, Kendrick Lamar and most recently Tyga) and is featured regularly with the likes of Lil Wayne and members of the Young Money Cash Money crew. Yet in most cases he comes across as a sensitive new age guy that you could take home to the parents after the first date. It’s this difficulty of placing him in a ‘rap’ stereotype that makes Drake so intriguing and sees him continue to have the masses eating out of the palm of his hand.

From his debut, Drake was breaking records and stereotypes. His first mixtape, Room for Improvement, saw him become the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have his music video featured on US TV station BET (Black Entertainment Television).

His 2009 mixtape, So Far Gone, was released on Drake’s blog site and saw 2000 downloads in just two hours. This response led to the mixtape being reworked and released as an EP featuring the first of many international hit singles Best I Ever Had and Successful.

His follow up release, Thank Me Later, was delayed several times but went on to garner critical acclaim, particularly due to the rapper’s ballsy move to sing on Find Your Love. The single still remains the most successful from the album and paved the way for more singing from Drake. The final release from the album, Fancy, whilst not as popular as its predecessors, still earned him his first Grammy nomination.

By this point, Drake was showing he was more than capable of pushing boundaries, singing and rapping about love, wealth and fame. But it wasn’t until the release of Grammy Award-winning album, Take Care, that his influence on Gen Y was truly defined. Whilst the phrase ‘You Only Live Once’ has been around for over a century, Drake’s use of ‘YOLO’ in The Motto popularised the phrase making it prominent in everyday conversations and splashed across clothing around the world. Drake has since apologised for unleashing this word on the masses in a recent appearance on Saturday Night Live.

As ‘YOLO’ became just as popular as the term ‘selfie’, the release of Drake’s third studio album, Nothing Was The Same, led to the rapper being named the most influential person on social media in 2013 ahead of Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Kanye West and even Kim Kardashian. It is reported that Drake was the subject of over 46 million social media conversations and it’s obvious why.

After wearing a Dada short suit during the filming of DJ Khaled’s No New Friends music video, Drake was photoshopped by thousands and was turned into one of the biggest memes of that year. The album’s second release Hold On, We’re Going Home featuring OVO (October’s Very Own) sound artist, Majid Jordan, was also used in the viral Starbucks Drake Hands craze and landed him mainstream radio spins around Australia.

But while fans have fun with the rapper’s image, Drake’s shown that he isn’t opposed to taking the mickey out of himself either, further adding to his appeal and shying away from what is expected from your stereotypical rapper. As a global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors, the MC was seen to be lint rolling his pants at courtside during a basketball game. The video once again went viral, and the following week all those attending the Toronto Raptors home game received a special game day lint roller. Even as a host on Saturday Night Live and the ESPYS indicates Drake doesn’t take himself too seriously, adding to his growing mass appeal.

With every release Drake seems to know how to get the masses talking. Just last week, Drake sent cyberspace into a frenzy with a 15-minute video titled Jungle followed 12 hours later by the release of a 17-track mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Again, this saw the creation of a number of memes which led to the rapper trending across social media. The surprise release also had many talking about whether the mixtape signifies the end of his contract with Young Money Entertainment.

So what is it that makes Drake so damn likeable? Is it because he writes, sings, produces and raps lyrics that are poignant? Is it because he rolls with one of the biggest crews in rap music today? Is it because he is always featured across social media? Or could it be that he understands that sometimes life can’t be taken too seriously? It’s all of the above and more. He’s different. He’s an artist that has the (dare I say it) X-factor. He can write, rap, sing, produce, act and host. But he does it, and does it well. His lyrics continue to connect with rap fans around the world and have done so since day one, plus he portrays himself as half-thug, half-sensitive ladies’ man.

And it’s this that has seen Drake cemented into pop culture in a way that has never been done before. With his label OVO Sound signing several up-and-coming artists (Majid Jordan, PartyNextDoor, ILoveMakonnen), his OVO Fest building momentum in the northern hemisphere and a full album, Views from The 6, expected to be released in the future, it is looking more likely that Drake will be around for quite a while longer. And as he spawned ‘YOLO’, his career continues to show that although you only have one life, he is making the very most of his.