There’s a stat floating around the Internet right now that neatly ties up Drake’s dominance with a little owl-embroidered bow. According to someone who pays for Nielsen chart data, Aubrey Graham has maintained a position in the Billboard Top 10 during 476 of the decade’s 520 weeks. For context, that’s over 80,000 hours worth of OVO-approved music — which we are pretty sure is the actual runtime of Scorpion.
But how did the man who somehow broke social media by lint-rolling his pants at a Raps game, become the biggest pop star in the world? Well for one, you can credit the music itself. Drake was rap’s first post-bling era superstar, the first to blur the lines between rap and R&B seamlessly, and that penchant for genre smashing carries on to this day. Championing new sounds has been a major play to continuously remain relevant and exciting to both new and old ears.
After the success of his first few projects, Drake levelled up even further and took cues from the diaspora he grew up around in North York. With 2016’s Views — arguably Drake at his most commercially and culturally relevant — he championed and collaborated with dancehall and Afrobeat artists to bring the global sound to North American audiences. Unsurprisingly, the tunes that followed became some of his biggest to-date.
Tracks like “One Dance” and “Controlla” set him apart from American rappers and pop stars regurgitating the same sonic elements we’ve been accustomed to this past decade. Drake allowed his once signature sound to become more malleable, incorporating and borrowing elements from global genres. It’s this slight, but noticeable, reinvention that kept us going back for more.
Drake’s stranglehold on Internet culture is another big key to his incredible success. As far as global megastars go, Aubrey was an early adopter of internet culture. It’s been a skill that has set him apart from his peers and one used continuously throughout the decade to further his dominance.
From his early days on MySpace, to his current Twitter memedom, Drake embraced and leveraged the internet to become a lovable, larger than life media darling, someone even your grandma can get behind.
Back in 2015, in the midst of his high-profile beef with Meek Mill, Drake’s team took to social media and culled a truck full of memes pointed against the Philadelphia emcee. When he hit the OVO Fest stage a few weeks after dropping his club-banging diss track, “Back to Back,” Drake augmented his performance of the song by projecting those jokes on a screen for all to see. It was like a show set designed by Fuck Jerry and it was all anyone was talking about for days.
It’s plays like these that catapult Drake and his music to the top of the charts every few months, and it’s why he’s been able to muscle his way (shout out OVO Jonny Roxx) to the top of the industry mountain. His ability to stay top of mind is unparalleled. He’s the biggest pop star of the decade because there’s always something Drake-related to talk about… hell we’re doing that right now.