Kanye West is in a precarious position—but the exact position itself is still unclear. As we’ve all come to witness over the past few weeks, Kanye is focused on becoming a multihyphenate influencer, from political commentator to fashion designer to real estate developer. It seems he’s set his sights on being everything but a legitimate rapper. And while his aspirations expand beyond hip-hop, someone is standing in the wings, waiting for their moment to take over the rap game: Drake.
Back in 2013, Drake covered Vibe Magazine and gave a pretty candid interview, for the time. (“Candid” in 2018 speak means somebody is wilding all the way out.) When asked about his thoughts on Kanye, Drake was an open book. "He’s, like, the best,” Drizzy said. “What an era to be a part of. I wouldn’t want my competition to be anybody else. My competition is nobody else, by the way. It’s just me and ’Ye. I still have work to do but that’s what it is right now."
Five years later, and the two are primed for yet another competition: Drake’s upcoming album, Scorpion, will drop in June, the same month as Kanye’s still-unnamed The Life of Pablo follow-up, and his collaborative project with Kid Cudi, Kids See Ghost. With respect to album track records, Kanye is miles ahead of Drake. In addition to Kanye having a larger discography, it’s widely believed—from fans and critics alike—that ’Ye has yet to release a bad album. To take it from end zone to end zone, The College Dropout was ’Ye kicking the door down for hip-hoppers like Drake, and The Life of Pablo was ’Ye reassembling that door with fragmented pieces of his vision for rap’s future. His personal evolution—including his musings about the world around him—is immediately identifiable through his art.
Drake is positioned to surpass Kanye as hip-hop’s best talent by being the most accessible celebrity he can be... Drake is just an affable dude who doesn’t like to rock the boat—unless his dignity is in danger.
Drake, on the other hand, is not exactly known for expounding on life. We love Drake because he encourages us to have fun. He’s not known for pushing the sonic envelope or expressing culture-shifting views on wax. In fact, he’s probably best known for making the banal, exciting. Recovering from a crush on a girl from around the way? He’s got an album for that. Hell, he has a few albums for that. His biggest critique has been the idea that he’s not coloring outside of the lines, in terms of creativity and risk-taking. But right now, that adherence to normalcy just might be the thing that leapfrogs him over Kanye.
Drake is positioned to surpass Kanye as hip-hop’s best talent by being the most accessible celebrity he can be. Strip away the money and rapper title and Drake is just an affable dude who doesn’t like to rock the boat—unless his dignity is in danger. Look no further than his micro-beef with Meek Mill and his recent unfollowing of Rihanna on Instagram after Rih said the two "don't have a friendship." But even then, his sus moves are relatable. By remaining apolitical, and generally a middle-of-the-road human being, Drake isn’t making any sort of move that could possibly offend his fan base. It's the complete opposite of Kanye’s current goal to subvert anything and everything that's ever been documented or invented.
With two impeccable—and wildly successful—songs that have each topped the Billboard Hot 100, Drake can boast that his musical stock has never been higher. As we watch Kanye self-destruct before our eyes in real time, the idea of an artist who stays on our minds but out of contrived controversy is looking more appealing by the minute.