Reporting Shannon Carlin
It’s been two years since Drake released his last album Take Care, but he certainly hasn’t been quiet. Instead, Drake’s spent his time guesting on a handful of tracks with what seems like every rapper in the game, including the newly anointed Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky. He’s also spent time testing the waters by dropping songs that, besides “Started From The Bottom,” may or may not be featured on his upcoming album, Nothing Was The Same.
With the recent announcement that his new record will be out September 17, fans will finally get a fully formed album that Cash Money CEO Birdman already claims takes Drake to the next next level.
“I think Drake he’s one of those n***** that’s gonna change the game every time he come, because he’s a talented animal,” he told MTV. “He’s somethin’ I never been around before,”
But what could Drake do to take his game up a notch and pleasantly surprise his fans?
Record With A Live Band
It’s nothing new to see a rapper to team up with a live band for a few tracks here and there or an MTV Un-Plugged special. But using an actual band in the recording of the album means the whole making of would no longer be a two-pronged process. He could just go in with a band and lay down the track right there. Drake as bandleader: the ultimate baller move. We’ve even got an idea of the band who should play back up, the ultimate hip-hop band, The Roots. The jazz-tinged outfit would add a touch of class, a few horns (including a sousaphone), and a chance for Drake to ditch the drum machine once and for all. Whether he’s showing off his side stick pattern or tearing into a blazing drum-and-bass groove, Questlove on the skins will add a little more heart to Drake’s already palpable sound.
Go Smoother, Silkier, Sexier
As an ’80s baby with a penchant for Cosby sweaters, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see him channel one of his favorite singers, Sade and go smooth R&B for Nothing Was The Same. Though Drake tried to get the songstress to collaborate with him on his 2010 album, Thank Me Later, she politely turned him down. (She’s also turned down Jay-Z in the past.) This could be his chance to show her how much he truly loves her style by updating her adult contemporary sound for a younger generation. Bonus, the silkier sound will definitely mean more chances to hear Drake sing and a chance to hear an Aaliyah sample or two. To help him get the right mix of soul and R&B, Drake can team up with Black Milk, the sensitive producer who can help the rapper make something sweet, silky and original. And who knows, maybe Sade will be game to collaborate this time around.
Discover The Next Weeknd
Drake seems to always be looking for the next cool thing and he’s managed to find it a few times now. The most obvious being The Weeknd (aka Canadian musician Abel Tesfaye), whose smooth R&B croon made him part of Drake’s crew. But now that Tesfaye has struck out on his own with his first official LP, it’s time to ditch his recent “no new friends” motto and christen the next R&B It boy (or girl).
Already, Drake has cosigned Atlanta chant-rap trio Migos and recent OVO signee PARTYNEXTDOOR by appearing on their tracks. And while London-based singer Sampha, featured on one of his newest songs “The Motion,” certainly sounds like he could pick up where The Weeknd left off, we’re hoping Drake can discover someone completely new, someone most of us haven’t even heard of. Perhaps he can hook up with someone in his hometown of Toronto or another Canadian province like the fuzz-pop songstress White Poppy from British Columbia.
Construct A Concept Album Focused On His Hometown
Drizzy loves to shout-out his hometown of Toronto any chance he gets. So what if he wrote a concept album based around his Canadian birthplace just as Sufjan Stevens did in the early aughts with his albums, Michigan and Illinois? Both of these records took a closer look at the cities, from places (“Flint (For The Unemployed and Underpaid)” focuses on one of the poorest cities in Michigan) to newsworthy residents (the haunting, “John Wayne Gacy, Jr” off of Illinois, about the infamous serial killer.) Stevens admitted that his idea of writing a series of albums based around the 50 states was a bit of a gag, but what if Drake took it totally seriously and actually wrote a record that referenced people, places and events from his early years that helped get him to where he is now?
On “Started From The Bottom” he talks about his humble beginnings, but what if we truly got a look at a young Aubrey Graham? We’ve cracked the surface of who Drake is, but now it’s time for him to truly let us know what it was like growing up poor in the wealthy neighborhood of Forest Hills or how his single-mom upbringing effected his relationship with women. To keep things in check, though, he could use Toronto as the overarching narrative theme. Heck, maybe us in the states could learn a little Canadian history while we’re at it (do you have serial killers up there?). Certainly, this approach would be no easy feat, but if executed well, it could give fans a deeper understanding of the star and raise the rapper’s songwriting game. And of course, make for a series of excellent videos featuring home videos from back in the day.
Watch The Throne 2.0
What if instead of making his own record, Drake gives his boy Kendrick a call and the two made their own Watch The Throne, a Relinquish The Throne, if you will. It sounds a lot like hip-hop fan fiction, but what if it really happened? The two young rappers already proved they have chemistry on Lamar’s “Poetic Justice” and A$AP Rocky’s song “F*****’ Problems,” but a full album would force the two to figure out just how they combine Kendrick’s street smarts with Drake’s heart-on-his-sleeve style to make one great record about being young and black in Americanada. There’s the name right there.
Attempting to raise the bar previously set by Jay-Z and Kanye’s collab, the two 26-year-old rappers could prove they can compete with the elder statesman in a year where both Jay and ‘Ye already released successful solo albums in Yeezus and Magna Carta…Holy Grail. It could also be Drake’s chance to put his money where his mouth is and finally prove that he truly is the best in the game and that nothing really would be the same without him.