Up next is Drake’s official debut, Thank Me Later, out June 15. He recorded mostly in Toronto, although he put aside time to work with Kanye in Hawaii. The bulk of production, however, went to his So Far Gone producers and friends. Drake’s first-ever official single, “Over” — on which, true-to-form, he directly addresses the downside to his new-found fame – was released in March.
With all the buildup, though, there’s also been the inevitable backlash: over the past few months Drake’s taken a lot of criticism; there was the purportedly “artistic” video for “Over,” Later’s blurry album cover and Drake’s goofy appearance with Justin Bieber at the Juno Awards. Back in the fall, before anyone has really had a chance to turn on him, I asked him if scrutiny is a source of stress.
Though some say it’s “too artsy,” the “Over” video has still gotten over ten million views in just two months.
“People are so quick to be like, ‘it’s not that hot,'” he answers. “I know, I know, the first day people are gonna hear it and say, oh, that’s not as good as So Far Gone. No matter what.”
“So what do you do then?” All signs point to huge sales numbers; it’s blockbuster or bust. Can he fulfill the ridiculous commercial expectations? Surprisingly, Drake takes the long view.
“The internet has fucked the game up so bad, that if I don’t do it, I’m curious to sit back and watch whoever does. Sometimes, sometimes, I step out of my own shoes and sort of panoramically stare at my situation, the good and the bad. And I honestly can say, the steps we’ve taken, the way that how passionate we are about this…” He trails off. “If Thank Me Later doesn’t do what I think it’s gonna do, I’m very curious to see the next artist, birthed in this internet generation, that will go on to sell millions of records.”
“Nothing is for sure. If I don’t deliver on this album it could be the downfall of my entire career.” Honestly, though — even with the pressures of impending world-wide fame and massive amounts of money (or total failure) on his very young shoulders — he really doesn’t seem too concerned. Though he’d hate the comparison, there’s a bit of Degrassi‘s (pre-wheelchair) Jimmy Brooks’ swagger in him.
Angelo keeps bringing shots over. Graham mock-protests — “This is terrible! This is it!” — but keeps swigging. At one point, an attractive woman in her late twenties approaches Graham. They had met before, she explains, at a group dinner at Mr. Chow. Graham does his best to pretend like he remembers. She produces a cell phone picture, and he gives up a chirp of recognition. Apparently, she’s an associate of Vivica A. Fox – she gets Graham’s phone number, and tells him they should get dinner “when Vivica is in town.”
It’s the kind of disingenuous little interaction famous people must have all the time, but it sticks in my craw. Earlier, Graham talked about the troubles of recording Thank Me Later. “It’s weird, to fall into routine. I can’t really write a song unless it’s about me. And sometimes I have to allow myself the moments, to live a little bit.” So Far Gone resonates as the product of a young man, in turns cocksure and terrified, elated and confused. No matter what, Thank Me Later will be the product of a 23-year-old multi-millionaire dealing with flunkies and royalty lawyers. Will Drake be able to squeeze honest music out of that, too?
He’s game to try. “[With Gone], we were so deeply immersed in the sound that we had created. We didn’t know if we had created the most beautiful balance in the world, or if we were out of our minds. To get back there mentally, it’s what I’m trying to do right now — that feeling, like you’re standing on a cliff and closing your eyes and saying, “fuck it.'”