Is Drake a meme?

By: Brandon Benguaich

It goes without saying that Drake is a popular rapper, singer, actor and more. He does well on the pop charts, he sells many albums, and packs venues around the world. These are facts, but what is Drake’s status as a meme, and what is the impact of said status. To some, Drake is a walking meme; there are plenty of pictures, gifs, and social media posts poking fun at the rapper for one reason or another, but maybe his living meme status helps him? Sure, he may not be the most hardcore rapper, and many people seem to make fun of his upbringing, and his lyrical content surrounding more sensitive themes, but let us look at his status as a meme.

Here is a brief history of Drake’s memehood. February 10th, 2012, “The Motto” was posted on YouTube. This is where drake introduced “YOLO,” a term that has plagued the internet ever since. February 13th, 2013, we saw “Started From The Bottom” for the first time on YouTube. The music video for this hit shows Drake as an employee of local Canadian drugstore, Shoppers Drugmart, very memey indeed. There was also, “Hotline Bling”, where we can’t forget his apparel and dance moves, on the album April 29th, 2016 album Views. There were many parody album covers created, seeing Drake sitting on top of the CN Tower, is a meme in itself.

Is there a correlation between Drake’s success on the charts and how much of a meme he is at a given time? Let’s find out! On February 18th, 2012 “The Motto” reached No. 1 on the US rap chart. If you view Google trends, you can see a spike in “Drake Meme” in April 2012. During the B.E.T. Awards on October 13th, 2013, “Started From The Bottom” won track of the year. Once again, there you can see a clear spike during October 2013 for the search term “Drake Meme.” One more example is “Hotline Bling” which peaked at No. 2 on the US Billboard 100 on October 24th, 2015. The biggest spike seen on Google Trends ever for this particular search term was during October 2015! If you check out the Google Trends for the search term “Drake Meme,” there are consistent bumps along with the previously mentioned milestones.

Okay, before you get your pitchforks ready, correlation does not equal causation. I am not claiming that Google search terms equal success, however, we cannot deny that the internet plays a role in music today. Is Drake purposely memey? Its tough to tell. We do know for a fact, that Drake embraces it, one example is the time he appeared on Jimmy Kimmel. In this clip, Jimmy discusses the meme associated with Drake’s album, Views. Drake seems to have no problem with this particular meme, he seems to actually enjoy it. So, is Drake a living meme? Technically, yes. According to Merriam-Webster, a meme is “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from one person to another in a culture.” Drake has spread far and wide throughout the internet, whether it was on purpose or not. In reality, we cannot say for certain as to whether he is popular, or whether he is more successful because of memes, but you cannot deny that all of these “Drake Memes” get people talking about the rapper, and they get people listening to his music. 

Kimmel and Drake:

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