Last spring, when Drake casually dropped his 22-track “playlist” More Life into our laps, some wondered if Drake fatigue had finally set in after eight years. Despite selling 505,00 equivalent units in his opening week, along with a record-breaking 385 million streams, the moment felt more minor than the behemoth release of Views. A chink in the armor was imagined.
That anyone doubted him says a lot about Drake’s position in the world. The popularity standard he’s set for himself is so high that even when it seems at a glance that he may no longer be that dominant force, you look around and realize he’s still far ahead of everyone else.
Drake, being the shrewd businessman he is, took some time off and returned with a two-track EP titled Scary Hours late last Friday night. Instead of heading in the downward trending direction some expected after More Life, he hit newer, unexpected heights with his Cardo, Yung Exclusive & Boi1da-produced “God’s Plan.” The song—a surprise release that sounds like a throwaway next to his biggest hits—broke the single day Spotify and Apple Music streaming records. It very much appears to be on its way to Billboard’s number one spot on the Hot 100. How the fuck does he keep doing this?
For starters, you need to look at his self-professed time off. On "Do Not Disturb," the final track on More Life, he promised that he would step back for the rest of the year and, presumably, his absence would make the heart grow fonder. The thing is, though, that even when Drake hints at a hiatus or appears to become more reclusive, he never really goes away. Very few days go by without Drake flooding his highly active Instagram account, or grainy footage emerging of the 6 God himself making a club appearance. If there’s anything we’ve learned about Drake over the last decade, it’s that he never lets himself fall out of the conversation.
Further, in an era where streaming has transformed into the primary option for music listeners Drake has tailored his music directly to the platforms his audience is on. While some artists aim for cohesive projects, Drake favors variety—the goal is to have something for everybody, just like his new partners Netflix where the goal is to have something for everybody. Lately, Drake has refused to create a project where each track is an Instagram caption magnet (like “God’s Plan”) or an album-length exploration of his afrobeat fantasies, or any other singular vision. If there is a Drake song you don’t like, he’s sure to have something that’s more your speed waiting in the chamber. "God's Plan" is a different tack than (most of) what we heard before. It's clear that it's what people were waiting for.
Now, as Drake prepares to maintain his position at the top of rap’s hierarchy, he’s proved he’s better positioned for record-setting success, and his brief, incomplete hiatus did what it needed to do: made him more popular than ever. With rap as a genre continuing its chart dominance, Drake’s signaled that he’s more than ready to capitalize on it. Likely with an album catering to every single form of music listener he possibly can. We’re never going to hear the end of it.