On the FADER’s historic 100th issue cover, Drake has finally emerged from his media hiatus for an in-depth interview, breaking a silence since 2014’s Rolling Stone story. Among the various topics discussed were a few sensitive issues, to which Drake responded with a surprisingly genuine in-depth candidness. This interview marked the first time the Toronto hip-hop superstar spoke about Meek Mill’s ghostwriting allegations earlier this summer and its ensuing verbal exchange, as well as the cohesiveness of his mixtape projects – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and the more-recent What a Time to Be Alive – relative to his forthcoming LP, Views From the 6. Take a look at the excerpts below, and visit the FADER for the full story. Listen to What a Time to Be Alive on iTunes now.
Regarding Meek Mill, “Charged Up” and “Back to Back”
“I’m just gonna bring it up ‘cause it’s important to me,” he says. “I was at a charity kickball game—which we won, by the way—and my brother called me. He was just like, ‘I don’t know if you’re aware, but, yo, they’re trying to end us out here. They’re just spreading, like, propaganda. Where are you? You need to come here.’ So we all circled up at the studio, and sat there as Flex went on the air, and these guys flip-flopped [about how] they were gonna do this, that, and the third.”
He recorded “Charged Up” that very night and released it the next day on the same episode of OVO Radio that saw the debut of “Hotline Bling.” “Given the circumstances, it felt right to just remind people what it is that I do,” Drake says, a proud smile creeping into his face, “in case your opinions were wavering at any point.”
When a reply to “Charged Up” didn’t come, Drake could hardly believe it. “This is a discussion about music, and no one’s putting forth any music?” he says, speaking with a furrowed brow, as if reliving his incredulity. “You guys are gonna leave this for me to do? This is how you want to play it? You guys didn’t think this through at all—nobody? You guys have high-ranking members watching over you. Nobody told you that this was a bad idea, to engage in this and not have something? You’re gonna engage in a conversation about writing music, and delivering music, with me? And not have anything to put forth on the table?”
As the days ticked by and a rebuttal from Meek Mill continued to not materialize, Drake became almost offended at the lack of hustle the other team was putting in. “It was weighing heavy on me,” he says. “I didn’t get it. I didn’t get how there was no strategy on the opposite end. I just didn’t understand. I didn’t understand it because that’s just not how we operate.”
It was then that he decided to just go ahead and do another song. “I was like, ‘I’m gonna probably just finish this.’ And I know how I have to finish it. This has to literally become the song that people want to hear every single night, and it’s gonna be tough to exist during this summer when everybody wants to hear [this] song that isn’t necessarily in your favor.
Regarding If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, What a Time to Be Alive and Views From the 6
It’s a marked contrast from the way Drake made What a Time to Be Alive—he and Future recorded it in just six days in Atlanta, working at night, sleeping in the studio, then waking up and working some more, according to Metro Boomin, the tape’s executive producer—and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which was also completed relatively quickly, in three months, and was dominated by beats from Boi-1da and Vinylz. “That was really just me doing one song at a time and just organizing them in an order that I thought sounded really good,” he says of If You’re Reading This. “It was like an offering—that’s what it was. It was just an offering. I just wanted you to have something to start the year off. I wanted to be the first one. I wanted to set it off properly.”
The day before our interview, word came that If You’re Reading This had gone platinum. It was an unbelievable achievement, given that the project came out with no warning and no official single, and that Drake made a point of describing it as a mixtape rather than a proper album. The message seemed to be that it stood apart from the rest of Drake’s catalogue—that it was somehow a lesser work than his proper LPs. When I tell Drake that the tape sounded as cohesive to me as any “real” album I heard this year, he says, “I appreciate the compliment,” but disagrees.
“By the standard I hold myself and 40 to, it’s a bit broken,” he says. “There’s corners cut, in the sense of fluidity and song transition, and just things that we spend weeks and months on that make our albums what they are.”
Perhaps not unlike the Future project, the tape was conceived as a palate cleanser, Drake says—a wild sprint he wanted to get out of his system before turning to the marathon that would be Views. “It was the set up to be able to return to working solely with 40, which is where I’m at now,” he says, explaining that the new album has involved collaborating more intimately with 40 than he has since Take Care. “I just wanted to be able to come back to that and have it be important.”