So here’s a question for you: what did Nicki Minaj do in 2015 besides starting unnecessary Twitter arguments with a pop-star over some irrelevant award and dating the lamest human being on the planet? Yeah, I could not think of anything either. So unfortunately, in spite of her tweeting an article about how she “owned” 2015 every other day, we all know the truth. 2015 was definitely not Nicki’s year.
Maybe if this was 2012, where she owned the charts and the radio with her pop hits like “Starships” and “Pound The Alarm.” But come on Nicki, even non Hip-Hop heads would say this without any hesitation: 2015 actually belonged to Drake and Future.
But before I get into the discussion of why the year belonged to those two, I would like to discuss the very veiled shot that Nicki (via Twitter) tried to send towards, her boyfriend’s greatest nightmare, Aubrey Drake “The 6 God” Graham.
It was clear to me throughout the year that Nicki was somehow involved in the appalling “exposure” of her fellow label-mate done by none other than her boyfriend and former rapper, Meek Mill. If anything, she was definitely by his side giving him the confidence boost to follow through with his poorly conducted battle. Even after Drake extinguished whatever was left of Meek’s dignity, she still let her sore boyfriend go up on her tour stage and talk recklessly about her label-mate every night. However when asked about the infamous beef, she denied being on a side but let’s be real, everyone knew she was supporting Meek regardless.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, she posted an article that statistically compared her collaborations (features) and Drake’s collaborations in the year of 2015. To begin with, the article was completely inaccurate because, actually, why would you ever compare Drake and Nicki as artists, anyway? The article then went on to state that the “Nicki effect” is greater than the “Drake effect,” which itself is just a laughable statement.
The author of the article must not see the difference in the type of collaborations these two artists indulge in. I mean, the article really compared a Roy Woods feature to a pop single that featured Ariana Grande and Jessie J and was on three different albums. I bet half the people who read the article didn’t know who Roy Woods is, which is understandable for, Woods is only an up and coming artist who signed to OVO Sound (Drake’s record label) earlier this year.
While Nicki collaborates with already established pop-stars, Drake does the total opposite. The “Drake Effect” does not constitute how many Spotify streams his collaborations receive, but it is the mark of recognition that undiscovered and fairly new artists receive from his co-sign.
In 2011, Drake introduced the world to a unique voice that sang about drugs and girls with an utterly dark and cryptic aura. Four years later and that voice has now become the pop sensation we all know as The Weeknd. But The Weeknd isn’t the only sound Drake has revealed to the culture; he gave us PARTYNEXTDOOR in 2013, the magic of Majid Jordan, a boost to the rise of Migos, Fetty Wap, iLOVEMAKONNEN and anyone who got a nod of approval from the God of the 6.
A Drake co-sign is so real that it can single-handedly mold you a career. For instance, back in May, a low quality snippet of Drake’s “Sweeterman remix” was leaked in the internets that had magazines such as Complex and FADER doing write-ups on a 22 year old local rapper from Toronto named RamRiddlz, who is responsible for the original song. Two months later, Oliver (co-founder of OVO) played the official remix on the first episode of OVO Sound Radio followed by a reggae remix of the original “Sweeterman,” a major co-sign for the young RamRiddlz. Ever since then, Ramriddlz has been doing full shows in small venues in cities like LA, Toronto, New York and his hometown, Mississauga. He has come out with an official single named “Call Me,” and continues to release songs on sound cloud with other up and coming artists. Needless to say, his consistency and the Drake co-sign has brought the OG Sweeterman a decent amount of beloved followers, myself included.
With that being said, here’s another question for you: name one artist Nicki Minaj has ever put on? That’s a tough one, no? Sorry Nicki, but David Guetta, Ariana Grande, and Madonna most definitely have a bigger following than you. In fact, they probably put you onto their mainstream fan base. Perhaps the “Nicki Effect” should really be called, “Collab With Pop Artists So I Can Stream More Effect.”
Coming back to the year 2015 and who really owned it, yeah sure Kendrick Lamar received the 11 Grammy nominations, but Drake and Future really took the year by a storm.
On February 13th, 2015, Drake released the most highly anticipated work of the year, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, on iTunes worldwide. Released on a Friday, the mixtape surpassed the 500,000 mark and went gold in just four days after its release. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and broke the Spotify record for the most streams, which was also previously held by Drake himself. At one point, every track from the mixtape was on the iTunes chart and the mixtape itself was immediately number one. It is the best-selling digital body of work of 2015 and the third best-selling throughout the country as it passed one million copies as of December.
Besides the numbers and statistics, the impact of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was ever-lasting. Whether it was playing in a club in NYC or being performed at Wireless Festival in London, Know Yourself was undoubtedly one of the biggest records of the year. It didn’t matter if you weren’t from Toronto; wherever you were, you had to be running through the 6 with your woes.
Songs like Energy and 10 Bands received instant radio plays as Drake himself says, even if it’s not for the radio, they still play it though, “cause if it’s that new Drizzy Drake, that’s just the way it go.”
Adding to a spectacular year for Drake was ironically the thing that was meant to jeopardize his career. In July 2015, Meek Mill, a rapper who is quite dead to us now, took to Twitter and accused Drake of ghostwriting; the most discrediting accusation a rapper could ever receive. Many of the sensible audience knew the truth behind the accusations and agreed that Drake always has credited writers involved in his works. Nevertheless, some people were convinced from a mere tweet and before we knew it, Drake ghostwriting jokes were flying everywhere. A few days of silence from Drake himself, and Meek most probably thought he had won. That was, until Drake fired back with Charged Up as the warning shot, and the final finisher, Back to Back, and the rest was history.
But Drake did something so extraordinary in 2015 that even non-Drake-believers would have to bow down for a second. The man created the fiery Back to Back and the compassionate Hotline Bling in the same month. While Back to Back is nominated for a Grammy for best rap performance, Hotline Bling became what it was meant to be; a sensational hit. It almost gave Drake his first number one song, but due to Adele’s comeback that spot was unfortunately snatched from the rapper.
Even so, Drake managed to become an unavoidable highlight of the year 2015. Whether it was the infamous “beef” or the fact that he really Ginobli danced all throughout the year—even in the Hotline Bling video—as he had promised, 2015 had D-R-A-K-E written all over it. Now one can only imagine what 2016 has in store for The Boy, for he is set to release his most anticipated album till date, Views From The 6, the same year.
Now moving forward to Fire Marshall, Future Hendrix Vandross, Super Future, or whatever name you may know him as today. You can call him anything you want but you can’t deny the fact that the year 2015 shares its limelight with Future. On July 17th, Future released his third studio album, Dirty Sprite 2 (DS2), and I swear everyone was yelling “I just fucked your bitch in some Gucci flip-flops” for at least two months. It debuted at number one on the Billboard200 and became Future’s first number one album ever. In DS2, Future really proves that money can’t buy all the happiness but in 2015, he also experienced the best year ever.
After the success of DS2, Future went on a solo tour throughout thecountry and stamped his impact on every state. He was being memed as Kobe Bryant after his five championships and people had no other option but to accept him as one of the most consistent rappers for the past year.
As if Dirty Sprite 2 wasn’t enough, in September 2015, both the most consistent rappers in the industry gifted their fans a gem in the name of What a Time To Be Alive. The Drake and Future collaborative mixtape came as a surprise to many but it didn’t take long for it to win hearts. It debuted at number one yet again and as of January 3rd, 2016, it has passed 500,000 copies, making it Future’s first gold record while adding to Drake’s large collection of gold plaques.
The mixtape has its own value in people’s perspective but one thing is for certain, it solidified the impact of Drake and Future and confirmed that 2015 belonged to them and no one else.