It was my day off, but I somehow found myself at the Complex offices like NYC hadn’t blessed us with the best weather we’ve had all year. I rocked back in my chair and opened Instagram only to find a post from October’s Very Own featuring the Filip Pagowski designed “Views” logo, the quote “Courtesy of the company,” a 4:00 p.m. time stamp, and a Soho address. I debated my participation for all of 30 seconds before realizing that I wasn’t obligated to stay, and that I had the opportunity to really get out here on my journalism shit.
Thank God Bowery is only a few stops away from our offices, because there was already a flock of Drake fans outside of the venue when I pulled up (AKA: walked up, because, NYC) at 2:45. Despite the ambiguity of the Instagram post, word spread that the event was a pop-up shop promoting Drake’s upcoming album, “Views From the 6.”
Rap artists have taken to using pop-up shops to create hype (and hysteria) around their most recent releases. Kanye fans recently invaded Soho to blow their checking accounts on The Life of Pablo merch. Kanye says he made a million, but the impact and press coverage he received from the event is immeasurable. Drake is wise to implement a similar strategy. Mr. West is better known for his fashion forays than Drake, but the 6 God’s shop seemed to have garnered similar hype—even though Drake fans probably didn’t even know what they were showing up to.
The Instagram post announcing the shop had only been up for 45 minutes by the time I got into line, but that was all it took for the line to swell all the way down the street and around the corner. It was more than an hour before the doors opened.
If Drake was hoping to court chaos, that mission was definitely accomplished. Spring definitely sprung and decided to show itself with some serious heat. Beats, the event’s sponsor, couldn’t have been pleased with the shitty speakers blasting tracks from Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. At one point, a White Escalade smashed into a police squad car. It’s as if the universe knew we would be here in line for a while and decided to entertain us with a little nonsense.
Shortly thereafter the Campout Kings—Racks and Andre (better known by his Instagram handle solestreetsneakerco)—made their way to the front of queue. Security guards directed them to the back of the line, but these guys are pros and never made it back there.
Finally, around 4:15, the first thirty or so customers scurried into the space. Inside were autographed Beats headphones in glass casings. Black and white T-shirts bearing the "Views" logo hung on racks. The T-shirt was ultimately the prize for everyone’s efforts, whether they knew it or not.
Everything happened quickly once you got to the front of the line. You were asked your size, given one of the T-shirts, reminded that the gifts were “courtesy of Drake,” in true Canadian fashion, and then shuffled out. A few people snapped photos of me and my friend holding our bags on our first time to Disneyworld shit.
There were those in line even then who still had no clue what they were waiting for, despite having been there for at least an hour. I filled them in and even included the phrase, “free shirt,” but they still seemed disappointed. I don’t know how free stuff could bum you out; maybe I just spoke to the wrong people. I didn’t necessarily expect Drake to turn up (as lit as that would have been) and I may have been slightly disappointed that I didn’t get an exclusive first listen to the album, but getting a free T-shirt that’s already up on ebay for $200 is a pretty good consolation prize.
The choice now is to either go for the quick come up and see what I can get out of Drake’s gift. Or run around town with it on my back, promoting Drake’s new album, and stirring envy in the hearts of diehard Drake fans who showed up too late or were out of the loop completely.