Only Drake can release an “album” made up of all B-sides and loose freestyles and make it an event. On Friday, the Canadian superstar dropped Care Package, a 17-song collection of standalones he’d previously released to Soundcloud or file sharing sites over the last ten years which had never been available outside of bootleg streams and the original downloads.
The compilation contains fan favorites like “Club Paradise,” “Draft Day,” and Drake’s infamous “AM/PM” series which consists of “4PM In Calabasas” and “5 AM In Toronto” (“9AM In Dallas” and “6PM In New York” appeared on two of Drake’s albums, Thank Me Later and If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late). The fact that Drake was able to release Care Package as a standalone project is a testament to Drake’s stardom and position in hip-hop. It’s also a reminder of just how unique and unusual a position that is. Few rappers could release a collection of what basically amounts to 17 throwaways and still have the same sort of cultural impact.
Hip-hop artists have taken advantage of the tools provided by the internet to maintain their relevance for a long time, but almost no one is as good at it as Drake. From his ability to literally break the internet with new releases to dominating the discussion online whenever he makes moves to expertly flipping every meme about him to his advantage, Drake epitomizes the modern rapper using social media conventions and streaming to maximize not only his public profile, but also his profits.
Take, for instance, the loose tracks “Charged Up” and “Back To Back,” which do not appear on Care Package, presumably because Drake values his repaired relationship with former rival Meek Mill to risk reopening old wounds. Whereas rappers engaged in battles had always simply dumped their diss tracks on file-sharing sites and let the social media buzz spread them, Drake dropped the two diss singles, days apart, to Apple Music and Spotify, ensuring that every play would also put money in his pocket. The tactic ensured that even if Drake lost, he’d win. You almost have to wonder how differently his tiff with Pusha T would have turned out had he used it again.