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HERE COMES DRAKE

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Drake doesn’t render his name in all capital letters. But maybe he should. After all, his forthcoming, madly anticipated YMCMB/Republic album, Views From the Six, will—unless the Internet stops working or something—become the biggest debut of 2016 when it arrives on 4/29. In fact, forecasts for his first week are somewhere between “astronomical” and “holy shit”—and if physical is part of the first-week equation it’s believed he could bow as high as 1 million.

It’s expected that Drake will meet or exceed Justin Bieber’s record-setting blockbuster Purpose in streams; will these erode sales, or will Drake, like Bieber, continue to sell in huge numbers even as his streams go through the roof?

Drake has two new singles blowing up in the marketplace and at radio, “One Dance” f/Wizkid & Kyla (223k RTD) and “Pop Style” f/The Throne (aka Jay Z and Kanye West; 213k). The former, #1 Most Added at Rhythm (where it’s already Top 15) and Urban radio and moving #33-27 at Pop, has stuck in the Top 5 at iTunes since it appeared.

Views follows 2013’s Nothing Was the Same, although Drake has kept up a steady flow of other music releases during the long spell—his longest to date—between studio records. Most notable are the two massive 2015 mixtapes If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and the Future collab What a Time to Be Alive, along with various singles dropped via his OVO Sound radio show on Apple Music’s Beats 1, including the tropical-flavored smash “Hotline Bling” (now at 2.2m RTD) and the battle records “Charged Up” and “Back to Back”—huge songs that crossed over to mainstream radio. “Hotline Bling” will reportedly be included on the new album.

What is definitely included on Views is a sound crafted by Drake’s longtime executive producer Noah “40” Shebib, along with frequent collaborators Boi-1da, Nineteen85 and Metro Boomin.

With his Apple Music partnership in full bloom, the new album is believed to be exclusive to the streaming service, and to the iTunes Store in terms of digital sales for the first week before going wide. As for physical availability and its timing, Drake waited 10 weeks before releasing IYRTITL on CD, but it’s doubtful he’ll approach a studio album in the same way he does his mixtapes.

One thing is clear: The buildup for Views has been bigger and more extended than for any previous Drake release, and there’s enough momentum behind the record that it should easily eclipse his first week for Nothing Was the Same, which moved 660k. And consider the first-week streaming numbers for WATTBA, also an Apple Music exclusive, which generated 35m streams in week one and jumped to 54m in week two. Will Views further up the ante? 

And then there’s the OVO crew’s social-media savvy, which is being fully deployed in the run-up to the release. Drake wields the element of surprise as much as Beyoncé does. Last week, word spread across Twitter via Drizzy’s account that an OVO pop-up store was going to appear in Lower Manhattan within two hours of the tweeted-out reveal. Fans who showed up were given free merch with Views branding. The second pop-up happened the next day in Miami, leading to thousands standing in line. At press time, similar events were expected to take place in various markets leading up to release day.

Drake’s goals appear to be lofty indeed. “I’m always thinking, how do I top what I’ve done? How do I make this thing stronger?” he stated in October. “I ask myself, why does Adele’s album go diamond, and how do I do that?” 

Photo: Samantha Hissong

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