It’s being called the biggest music release of the year. Indeed, Drake’s major label debut Thank Me Later, which hit shelves today (June 15), has received a level of excitement usually reserved for veteran superstar artists. But so far the Toronto MC has managed to hit the musical sweet spot by crafting songs that appeal to hipsters, hardcore hip-hop heads and female fans.
But there is one person that has yet to jump aboard the seemingly unstoppable Drake train: Andre 3000. “I really tried to do a song with Andre 3000, but I think it was meant for my second album,” Drake told VIBE on the eve of his release date. “Dre is one of those people that needs you to do a little more. He’s one of those people that believe in his craft so much that he needs you to do more than just be over hyped or just famous. In his mind, I have to prove myself and the truth is, I do. That’s just being real. I have a lot of work to do, so I actually respect him for that. I think on the second album I’ll probably only have two features. I have a few people in mind and Dre probably will be one of them.”
As for his current single “Find Your Love,” an R&B-laced track that managed to confound some critics and fans who were not expecting the popular rhymer to sing throughout an entire song, Drake says it’s important that the public understands that he still represents hip-hop.
“That song means a lot to me,” Drake says of “Find Your Love.” “It was just one of those things where it was a choice I made. I feel like I had a vision, so when the song dropped I already knew people were going to be like, “Man, what is this???” But I attached a visual to “Find Your Love” that I hoped explained it a little more. It’s on an album where there’s a lot of hip-hop. It’s almost too much rap on Thank Me Later [Laughs]. There are a lot of 32-bar verses. It’s hip-hop, man. Just a lot of me pouring my heart out. And that’s something I’m thinking about for my next album.
“I’m not saying I’m going to sing more, but I want to learn how to make better-structured songs that end sooner,” he continues. “A lot of the songs on Thank Me Later go on for like five, six minutes. But it’s all good. There’s a lot of shit I had to say and people around me wanted to say things too from Jay-Z to Lil’ Wayne…everybody has their 16 bars. It was just one of those projects.”
For his next single, Drake has settled on the Young Jeezy-featured track “Unforgettable,” a song that also serves as a respectful tribute to the late R&B princess Aaliyah. “It has an Aaliyah sample in it,” Drake says. “It’s a special record for me. I just love Aaliyah and I got the most feedback about that just being a feel good record. I just want to attach a visual to it and show how much I care about hip-hop…about music in general.”
But when it comes to his newfound fame, Drake is still getting used to the trappings of stardom. He credits his fans for seeing him through. “Right now, it’s hectic,” he says of the whirlwind attention that surrounds him. “I haven’t slept in like three days. I feel like everywhere I turn there are people who want me to perform or give them something. Right now it’s a little overwhelming, but I’m honored that people are excited. I just passed by a Best Buy and people are sleeping outside just to buy my album. I’m just trying to make it authentic for all my audiences.” —Keith Murphy