I am a fan of Drake as an entertainer. I enjoy his music. Ever since he came onto the scene he has been promoting his OVO brand which supposedly is now a record label with various artists signed to it. This is not a new concept. We’re familiar with the story of an artist succeeding in the record industry then forming an imprint on another major label to help other artists they’re affiliated with to develop. Drake himself signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money label. Apart from Drake, Young Money had other big Artists like Lil Wayne himself, Nicki Minaj and Tyga for a period of time.
But what’s unique about Drake’s OVO label is that you don’t really hear much about the artists who are signed to the label. What we do hear from time to time though, is that one of his artists would be featured on a song and/or one of his artists came up with a concept and he took it as his own and added his own flavour to it. “Just hold on we’re going home” featuring Majid Jordan is one of then.
A few years ago he jumped on Makonnen’s Tuesday creating a big hit with the remix and signed Makonnen to the label only to have him leave not too long afterward. Regarding Makonnen, I was always skeptical about the decision to sign him, as after hearing Tuesday, I listened to his other music and wasn’t impressed by it.
Another artist on the label you hear of often behind the scenes is Partnextdoor. He’s probably the closest an artist from the label has come to striking out on his own. He’s had some singles and released some albums but without much commercial success. He’s probably most famous for being the original creator of Rihanna and Drake’s work.
Then there’s this whole controversy that started the beef with Meek Mill. Drake was accused of using a Ghost Writer or getting help with his lyrics, something that is looked down upon as a rapper. Reference tracks by Quentin Miller surfaced to substantiate the claim and when one listens to the difference in the sound of that particular album — it was more urban — you get the picture to the extent by which other people influence drake. This doesn’t say much for his authenticity as a rapper.
I also recall The Weeknd saying that he gave Drake almost half of his album for Take Care then there was a bit of a fallout between them when The Weeknd decided not to sign with OVO. In hindsight looking at the situation with OVO The Weeknd may have dodged a bullet. He’s gone on to do quite well in his solo career.
I don’t have an issue with the concept of artists collaborating or taking inspiration from each other, but is the help that Drake is getting from his artists at the expense of their own careers and development. Is it that Drake is taking their best work for himself?
Are the artists happy with that situation? I’m sure they’re paid well for their help but as an artist, surely you must want to get into the spotlight as well. They’d have to know. If they aren’t leaving they’re at least tolerating it.
I guess this is the direction Hip Hop is moving in. I can’t knock it too much as it’s that kind of situation that obtains in other music genres. Not every artist writes his or her own music so why should we expect anything different from Hip Hop? Granted, in the early days, lyrical ability was a critical part of it but as you commercialise something you dilute its uniqueness.
The quantity of work that artists are required to release to make a living practically necessitates that they come up with some kind of formula not too far different from the assembly line in a factory. You figure out what works then recycle or you widen the scope for novelty by getting ideas from different people.
It’s a bit unfortunate the state of affairs but for me and his fans who just enjoy the music as long as it sounds good we’re happy. We don’t care that much if he didn’t write all of it or he just added his touch to someone else’s work. Maybe we’re part of the problem. Oh well!