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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjMLvHQJU40

DAMN – An analysis of the importance and impact of Kendrick Lamar

By: Brandon Benguaich

DAMN by Kendrick Lamar was realized April 14th, 2017, and at the time, was a highly anticipated, highly listened to, and highly discussed album. It generally received glowing reviews, and currently has a 95 on metacritic, so its safe to say, people think it’s a good album. Kendrick it’s a trailblazer in his field, he dominates the pop charts (he is usually present on the billboard 100) and is considered explorative by music critics, and adored by rap purists. Very few musicians (in general) are able to remain artistically credible and do well on the charts and with record sales. Kendrick Lamar has never “sold out,” he has always remained relevant, with his lyrics, and his performances. Just look at his 2016 performance at the Grammy’s if you need proof. The man has widespread appeal. Several months after the album’s release, there is still buzz about the album, and he is constantly touring as well.

How does Kendrick remain so popular? Let’s look at his albums:

Section.80: Overall great music and lyrics, quality features from talented, wide spread appeal to the masses.

good kid, m.A.A.d city: Generally known for its hits and popularity on the charts, still with plenty of meaningful lyrics, but contains plenty of tracks to listen to on their own.

To Pimp a Butterfly: Generally considered to be quite artistic, it was intended to be listened to from top to bottom, received lots of positive feedback.

DAMN: We talked about this, every song tells a story, and its filled with hits.  This album fulfills the missions of To Pimp a Butterfly and good kid, m.A.A.d city, its artistic, socially relavent, and popular to the mainstream.

Others: It’s worth mentioning Untitled Unmastered which contains other songs recorded during the To Pimp A Butterfly, and get again, this compilation is still pretty good.

Okay so now you’re caught up. We’ve established he is an incredible artist, but still, how is he adored by pop music listeners, and hip-hop heads? It is quite obvious if you look at the numbers, and listen to the buzz by the fans and journalists. Here are my thoughts on how Kendrick appeals to both camps. In terms of lyrics, they are deep, and they tell a story. Just to give one example, on Kendrick’s track “DAMN” there is one small line, with a huge meaning, “This that Grey Poupon, that Evian, that TED Talk, ayy.” Just that reference, “Grey Poupon” holds so much weight, it’s a reference to a fancy mustard from the 60s, that represented rich white men, it’s something that rappers have talked about countless times, in the music video for “DAMN” Kendrick even recreates the commercial. Rap purists, check! Now for casual listeners, look at the chorus, “Bitch be humble (hol’ up, bitch) Sit down (hol’ up, lil’ hol’ up, lil’ bitch), over and over again, repetitious, catchy lyrics are a big part of chart toppers.

Musically, there are tons of jazz and funk idioms within his discography, especially on To Pimp A Butterfly, and on good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick provides a lot of tracks that appeal to the masses such as “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” it’s quite catchy. Within his music, you can delve deep and look at meaning, or simply enjoy it, such as with “Swimming Pools (Drank)” which clearly seems to be about alcoholism. As with meaning, you can look deeply into his musical choices as well, Kendrick Lamar samples a wide array of artists and styles, such as James Brown, and Sufjan Stevens (as heard on To Pimp A Butterfly). If you’re a serious music listener, you can look for and appreciate those things, but you do not have to.

So, Kendrick Lamar appeals to both sides of the spectrum, you can choose to really delve in deep, listen to his story, discover the meaning, or  you can simple put on some headphones and tap your foot. Kendrick manages to apply to such a wide range of people, he continues to do well, and there is no stopping him.

What’s Up with Despacito

You maybe heard of the summer tune, the number one hit, ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi featuring Daddy Yankee. That tune has been smoking hot ever since it’s release. It is the first primarily spanish song to hit number one on the Billboard 100, and was the second fastest video to hit it’s billionth view on YouTube after Adele’s ‘Hello’.

What is so significant is that it is in a different language, where english is the prime language in the American pop culture scene. Forbes stating that it is on its way on becoming the most popular video on YouTube ever.