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Drake has been around for a while, but the summer of 2015 was definitely a high water mark for an already remarkably successful tenure. His 2015 mixtape, If You’re Reading This it’s Too Late, launched with extraordinary fanfare and every single track eventually reached the Billboard Hot 100. Drake’s music was spreading further than it ever had before and thanks to an ill-fated beef started by Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill, Drake was able to push his popularity one step further.
In the summer of 2015 Meek Mill accused Drake of using a ghost writer and Drake promptly released the song “Charged Up” in response. The internet was somewhat receptive to the song at first, and it seemed like a relatively small beef that hip-hop artists often engage in with one another. Until two days later when, without Meek dropping a track in response to his first, Drake released the biggest hit of the summer, “Back to Back.”
Trigger Fingers Turn to Twitter Fingers
Almost instantly the internet exploded and the world began to dissect the song and discovered just how brutal Drake’s second response truly was. Almost every single line contained a shot at Meek and the internet ran with it. Some of the best lines, “is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?” and “trigger fingers turn to twitter fingers” instantly became viral memes, adding insult to injury and throwing gas onto the fire that Meek Mill started.
A few more days passed before Meek Mill finally responded, but at that point Drake had already walked away with the W.
Meek Mill’s response entitled “Wanna Know” featured snippets of the original song he claimed Drake stole for his album and some vague insults, but the song itself backfired and the response was anything but positive.
Thanks to “Back to Back,” by the time Meek Mill retorted the internet had already chewed him up, spit him out, tweeted about it, and sent screenshots of those tweets to the furthest reaches of the internet.
Meek Mill tried to fight the Drake social media machine and lost big.
The beef culminated at Toronto’s OVO fest where the crowd joined in as Drake played “Back to Back” on repeat as the best fan created social media content roasting Meek Mill looped on big screens adjacent the stage. Watching Drake perform the hit again and again, it became clear that this was more than just great timing, it was an intricate plan to dismantle Meek Mill’s career, and it came together flawlessly.
Drake’s beef with Meek Mill was the highlight of an already impressive summer, but watching it all unfold made it clear that Drake was either incredibly lucky, or had a firm grasp on the internet and viral marketing.
Whether through Drake’s natural talent or a team of savvy marketers, his next single “Hotline Bling” would go on to prove just how next level Drake’s social media game really is.
By now nearly everyone on the planet has seen some version of Drake’s drunken uncle dance moves and his matching high quality ugly sweater. Instantly Drake’s swinging arms and knees and vibrant colored panels became the newest pop culture phenomena.
Pasting anyone and everyone’s head over dancing Drake became a staple of internet comedy for months and once again Drake had successfully turned a song into a viral internet moment, simultaneously recreating listener interest and low key marketing his product to the masses again and again.
Millions of Views (and downloads) From the Six
In a world of sponsored content and campaigns to go viral, Drake has seamlessly used the forces of social media to push his product to millions of users. His most recent album Views from the 6 was no different. As soon as the cover art was released it was clear the internet had taken the bait, some willingly and fully aware the memes of small Drake atop the CN Tower were an intentional product of brilliant social media marketing.
Whether surpassing expectations or not, the album went platinum in less than a week and proved Drake’s marketing savvy paid off once again.
Drake has taken his career to a whole new level utilizing social media. It might not be intentional, Drake himself might not be that savvy, there might not be a marketing team or two helping him manipulate the masses, it might all just be genuine popularity.
But when it happens again and again it makes one wonder, is Drake meme-able because Drake fans find him meme-able, or is Drake meme-able because he made himself meme-able to Drake fans? Is there any real difference?
Either way Drake is utilizing the social media landscape better than any other artist to date. Whether through genuine fanfare or just savvy marketing, Drake is proving just how pivotal a social media presence is to selling albums in a world dominated by streaming services and YouTube.