Album release dates are outdated. In today’s lightning-paced music industry, you haven’t made it until you drop a project out of the blue and get listens — or, in Beyonce’s case, an HBO special.
Announced nearly two years ago, Drake has positioned Views from the 6 as the climax of his career. Cryptic billboards have been posted around Toronto. Countless social media posts have been given the #Views hashtag. He has even kept the cover art and track list shared separate, squeezing more events into the release timeline. Over a week before release, “Views” pop-up shops are appearing from New York to Miami without warning, drawing massive crowds before rush hour.
Drizzy has released two projects since announcing Views, both of which he has said were not the project everyone has been waiting for. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was not “by the standard I hold myself and 40 to,” he told Fader.
By comparison, Take Care, considered by many to be Drake’s most complete work, was promoted and released within a seven-month span. Nothing Was the Same was announced just over three months prior to its release, while IYRTITL was released to the e-streets unannounced. His mixtape with Future, What a Time to Be Alive, was announced a day before it was available for download.
Each one of his projects sold well by any standard and found a way to dominate radio as Drake always does. Yet, Views is getting considerably more publicity than any of his previous genre-transcendent records. There’s no doubt that this promotion will show up on the sales charts: in the Internet age where the music megastar is succumbing to the power of endless selection within streaming services, we may never see another hip-hop release as big as Views — including another Drake release.
Perhaps Views does live up to the hype as the unquestionable classic that is missing from Drake’s catalogue — then what? If Views is far and away Drake’s best record, why not let the music speak for itself? Promotion for big release is certainly expected, but the fact that Drake has spent so much more emphasis on this one album and has actually dismissed some of his other projects as lesser work undermines his releases to this point and what he will do in the future.
All hip-hop legends have released albums in different stages of their career. Nas peaked early with Illmatic and It Was Written, while Kanye West may have saved his best for the latter part of his career with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Artists don’t get to pick when they would like their career-defining classics will come along—how albums are remembered is an organic process. With Views, Drake is forcing the issue, adding unnecessary emphasis on an album that he’s counting on to be his biggest and best release to date.
Let’s assume the best-case scenario: Views is a smashing success, critics love it, it dominates radio and gets “instant classic” labels. Where does Drake go from here? Rap is a young man’s game, but Drake isn’t close to retiring his pen at 29. Duplicating the anticipation of Views will be virtually impossible, and if it truly is as good as advertised, making any future projects stand out as more than footnotes of his career will be extremely difficult—just ask Nas how hard it was to replicate Illmatic.
On the other hand, if Views fails to live up to expectations — or even winds up as a flop — this two-year buildup will collapse like a house of cards. After all, this is his first release after last summer’s ghostwriting allegations. A failure with Views would be a permanent scar on Drake’s legacy, bringing back the ghosts of his past, no pun intended, for good.
Now, take away the two years of hype, and fans will still love Views the same. Dropping IYRTITL in the middle of the night and watching it go platinum within months proves that the 6 God doesn’t need billboards to sell and get attention. After all, no album was declared a classic because of how much it was anticipated.
Ultimately, putting all of the chips in the VFT6 basket has a lot more drawbacks than it does rewards. Drake’s peaking fame will raise expectations on their own; pushing all the chips in on Views is a bet Drake doesn’t need to make.