If Michael Jackson Is The King Of Pop, Drake Is King Of The Internet
Within minutes of his Apple Music release of the “Hotline Bling” video, memes mocking Drake's dancing popped up across the Internet.
We had him tossing pepperoni on pizza. We had him hitting back tennis balls like Roger Federer.
We did it, Internet. This time, we really nailed it.
But maybe, Drake is in on the whole thing.
Maybe he knows the Internet would eat up his ridiculous dancing and blow up his hotline number.
Just like maybe he knew the Internet would drop emoji for “Charged Up” and “Back to Back,” his Meek Mill diss tracks, like Grantland’s Shea Serrano hypothesized.
We’ve had Drake in our lives for 15 years now, going all the way back to “Degrassi: The Next Generation.”
It’s become abundantly clear that, in that time, our favorite Jewish-Canadian rapper is the complete Millennial artist.
In fact, he may just be the definitive Millennial artist.
He’s been giving us memes before memes even happened.
He's played a hand in our love of nostalgia, especially since he was a star himself on a Nickelodeon teen soap opera in the early 2000s.
He introduced “YOLO” to the mainstream.
He was also arguably the most successful unsigned talent of our time, releasing the So Far Gone mixtape to universal acclaim before signing on to Young Money Entertainment.
The evidence is scattered, but the arguments hold water.
Drake quite literally “started from the bottom,” hustling to provide for his family by acting. Even then, he wasn’t a household name.
But, he worked the music industry for openings.
He put his stamp on numerous mixtapes and tracks, all to keep his name in the mix.
Millennials are exactly like this. We throw our creativity in a variety of fields, in the hopes of catching some attention.
Drake has changed on the fly, morphing from a rapper to a singer and, possibly, back to rapper. He’s already shown a healthy amount of introspection by pouring out his feelings on record.
Like his fellow Millennials, who grew up in the age of blogs and live journals, Drake isn’t shy about telling you everything he’s going through.
This isn’t a new idea by any stretch, as quite a few people have claimed Drake is the voice of our generation.
But now, we can put the skeptics to rest.
It’s as if with “Hotline Bling,” Drake is fully anticipating the reaction from his fans and the public.
Wearing an array of outfits — from streetwear to turtlenecks — he offers dozens of facial and bodily expressions, as if he’s telegraphing the “TFW” memes before they can happen.
The video is stylishly shot, but with long cuts and James Turrell-influenced, sparse set design.
Do you know what a nearly empty background means? It’s easier for a meme creator to add animation into a GIF.
Plus (and this is important), Drake’s dance moves almost never last more than the six seconds necessary to fit into a Vine. This is perfect fodder for the Internet.
Meanwhile, there are those dance moves. Oh, those dance moves.
Drake’s moves have been criticized and poked fun at, but more than that, they’ve been imitated repeatedly.
YouTubers and Viners have already cut their versions of the dance.
Justin Bieber added his two cents. Mike Tyson, of all people, slurred his rendition on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.”
Drake has perfected this era.
He knows how to make songs and videos that blow up our social networks.
He understands a video isn’t made to be a video anymore.
It’s made to be chopped up, screwed around and most importantly, shared constantly.
This isn’t the 1970s, when artists released a single and an album, went on a media tour and a US concert tour and saw money roll in over months.
This isn’t the 1980s, when artists released a single, a video and an album, went on MTV and played a world tour.
This isn’t even the 1990s, when artists hustled a little more by appearing live on “TRL” or releasing enhanced CDs with digital tracks.
These days, artists have to be thinking about the first 10 minutes after the video drops.
How will it be consumed? How will viewers chop it up and share it?
When a new song is released, who gets to release it and how? When do you promote it and how?
Twitter? Snapchat? Periscope a recording session?
With this, Drake is on fleek.
He may not be the greatest artist of this era, but of any artist of the last 10 years, he’s the most representative of his generation.
“Hotline Bling,” with all its ridiculous dancing and facial gymnastics, is the latest example of an artist who knows how his work will be consumed.
Drake defines the term "Millennial."