2009 was a pivotal year for hip-hop.
If you think otherwise, you’re playing yourself: The Warm Up dropped, No Ceilings dropped, Beam Me Up Scotty dropped, Gucci Mane dropped (and dropped and dropped and dropped), Man on the Moon: The End of Day dropped, How Fly dropped, Bastard dropped; hell, Lupe even dropped Enemy of the State.
The momentum carried over into 2010, as well: Overly Dedicated, Kush & OJ, K.R.I.T. Wuz Here, Friday Night Lights, and Earl all put their creators on the map. But none of those projects served as a more effective launchpad than Drake’s So Far Gone.
Between February 13, 2009, when SFG was released, and the end of 2010, there was more music being made than rap fans knew what to do with. Artists like Asher Roth, Mickey Factz, and Charles Hamilton had bars, and they pushed their music out like their lives depended on it. (In some cases, their livelihoods did depend on making it in rap.) And they all shared their proverbial blood, sweat, and tears by connecting with the gatekeepers of the time: The New Music Cartel.
If you wanted to hear or promote any kind of hot new music, you went to one of the sites that made up the Cartel; NahRight was the most recognizable force, but others, like 2DopeBoyz, YouHeardThatNew, OnSmash, and MissInfo, were keeping pace right alongside them, as well as Xclusives Zone and DaJaz1. Through the assembling of this unofficial collective, the blog rap era was born.
While many rappers landed on the coveted web pages of rap’s elite tastemakers, no artist thrived more on the blogs than Drake, who released So Far Gone 10 years ago today.
In an archived Q&A on Kanye To The, from February 2017, NahRight’s Nation said he knew Drake was someone who would change the way rap blogs were perceived. “I got called every single name in the book over the years, but it turned out I was right all along,” he said. “Some pretty big music execs have admitted to me that they first heard Drake on NahRight. That’s always a very proud moment for me, for sure.”
Nation also admits to camping out in the comment section of Drake’s still-upkept October’s Very Own Blogspot page, where So Far Gone was officially released. Ahead of the drop, many a fan (myself included) were also staked out in the comments, gassing Drake up every step of the way on the road to SFG.
I’m not shy about the fact that, at the age of 19, I was an active Drake stan. Another thing I refuse to be shy about: My nickname in those comment sections was Foxxy. This is relevant information, I promise.
In addition to stans, some people were in the comments out of sheer curiosity, like 28-year-old Kev Converse from Atlanta (who I became Facebook friends with after the release of So Far Gone). We spoke on the phone for the first time today, on the morning of SFG’s 10-year anniversary, at which point Kev revealed why he was checked in to the OVO blog in the first place. “I was just kinda thirsty for any type of information leading up to the project, since it got pushed back a couple times,” he says. “It was almost like a full music forum down there, it was so many people.”
As the release date and time for SFG drew nearer, and nearer, the fans in the comment section started bonding. We talked about sports, life, and other artists—anything to pass the time. We were willing to wait, because we knew something unprecedented was bubbling. “I think people who heard Drake before realized this was gonna be that make-or-break moment,” Kev says. “I feel like everybody felt like he was on the cusp of something big. It seems like we were right.”
SFG was originally set to drop “before midnight, Thursday February 12, 2009,” per a preliminary post on the OVO blog. When midnight Eastern came and went, 40 made another post that said, “Im in LA, so I got till 12 PM PACIFIC TIME!!!”
We all tried our best to stay up and wait for the final product to be delivered, but many of us failed. At 3:17 a.m. Eastern, aka 12:17 a.m. Pacific, I tapped out. I said farewell to my fellow commenters and went to bed, where I tossed and turned, panicking over possibly missing the release. I eventually got up and hopped back online. “Fuck it,” I wrote at 4:03 a.m. Eastern, 1:03 a.m. Pacific. “I ain't fooling nobody but my damn self.... I'm staying up for this bitch!! I'll sleep when I die. lol”
While I didn’t die, I did end up falling asleep. At 12:18 p.m. EST, 40 finally delivered a zShare link for the tape, which seems to still be working today. (Test at your own risk.) The accompanying message? “Fashionably late.”
“Shouts to [another commenter] boiwonda and foxxy if she eva wake [up] haha..seriously im hongry and sleepy.never will i do dis again...unless its drizzy,” Kev wrote shortly after it dropped.
I eventually woke up, downloaded that bad boy, and… Let me tell you. As soon as “Lust for Life” started twinkling, I took a deep breath and prepared myself. From that point on, Drake was the only thing I listened to for a hot-ass minute. I would incorporate some Wayne every now and then (again, I was 19), but Drake was it for me.
In April, two months after the tape dropped, I found Kev on Facebook. There was a tour date post on Drake’s page, and he had commented underneath it; I noticed the same avatar photo from Blogger and reached out. We traded posts back and forth on each other’s walls, until I made the following comment: “I been down for Drizzy since ’06 and now everybody on my campus is suddenly the biggest Drake fan since what.. February?? I don’t think so.” When I read the comment back to Kev on the phone, he immediately starts laughing. “We were music snobs,” he says. “We were music snobs!”
I ask Kev if he thinks it’s fair to call Drake a “blog rapper,” and he wastes no time in disagreeing. “I think of blog rappers, like, Asher Roth,” he says. “I think [Drake] exploded so quick. He didn’t skip that phase, but it seemed like so many other blog rappers, they went through that for four or five years before they were beyond the point where they had to submit their music to blogs.”
Kev isn’t the only Drake fan I bonded with a full decade ago; I “met” Jainette Quinones, 30, when were in our late teens. I lived in Texas and she was based in Philly, but we were both Degrassi fans who became Drake stans the second he left behind his government name and adopted his middle name as his moniker. We crossed digital paths on a fan blog called All Things Fresh (ATF), run by Karla Moy, better known as HustleGrl. According to her website, Moy began working with some of today’s premiere artists, including Drake, at the age of 12. She was no older than 16 when Jai and I became Drake’s imaginary sister wives, through the ATF site Moy led.
Jai and I have spoken on the phone before, but not since 2010, when we bonded over our support for J. Cole. I called Jai the night before the SFG 10-year anniversary, and neither of us could fully grasp how Drake has managed to consistently power up for the past decade. “It’s crazy because I see young kids that listen to Drake and I’m like, ‘No, back in the day, I was stanning for Drake when you were in your mom’s womb,’” she tells me from Philadelphia. “It’s just so funny how, back then for us, he felt so special. We all thought, ‘Oh, he’s the best hidden secret.’ And he actually blew up.”
And with that, in honor of the blog era, we'll leave you with a DatPiff embed.