Is 2016 The Beginning Of The End For Drake?

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Its at best counterinituive and at worst gotdamn fucking insane to suggest that Drake may be at the precipice of becoming less popular. Especially since he's never been more famous and more singular. At the moment he stands as the undisputed king of the hip-hop hill, the only other contenders either too old (Jay Z), too "eh, I guess" (J Cole), too esoteric — and, frankly, too good at rapping — to have the same type of broad appeal (Kendrick Lamar), or too Kardashian (Kanye West) to mount any serious challenge. In fact, you'd probably have to go back 15 years to a 2001-era Jay Z to find another rapper who was so clearly on top of the game. He's also been romantically linked with Serena Fucking Williams and Rihanna Fucking Rihanna, he transformed his body, shifting from pudgy Dominican Uncle to Dominican Uncle with a Planet Fitness membership, and even his beard has been especially shiny and full of sheen lately, like he gets weekly intravenous treatments of Jack Black Beard Oil with Kalahari Melon Oil & Vitamin E.


2016 has been a very good year for Drake. Perhaps his best year, in terms of popularity, visibility, tour dates, and record sales. Which is a paradox because it's been his worst year musically.

This, of course, is no Earth-shattering revelation. While many of his contemporaries (Kendrick, Kanye, and Chance specifically) spent 2016 testing and stretching their creative limits, Drake just decided to be Drakier — a fact that many have already recognized. Which made sense for him financially, apparently. Also, I don't listen to the radio much, but when I do I can't go 17 seconds without hearing "Controlla." But I wonder how much this Alpha status, and the perceived untouchability that comes with it, has made him worse at actually rapping. Or, at least, worse at making rap-music-creating-related decisions, ultimately causing him to confuse (over)saturation with style and sagacity. This is how you go from releasing If You're Reading This It's Too Late (a legitimately quality album that wasn't even a real album) to Views (which, let's be real, was an 80-minute-long curation of catfish jizz) within a 14 month span. And also how you get reckless enough to come at a dude for his mental health issues and start a beef with one of the three or four rappers working today you definitely, absolutely, positively do not want to start a war of words with. This tree might not fall directly on Drake, but he'll definitely have to jump out the way before it splatters him.

I'm not suggesting that a few insensitive but tepid bars about Kid Cudi and/or a mindless beef with Pusha T is enough to push Drake off that ledge. But they're the type of decisions made by someone who doesn't seem to recognize how tenuous that position is and how steep that fall would be. And how easy it would be for him to make it.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Just saw this photo and it made me happy. So I thought I'd share.