The thing above this text that you are seeing with your eyes is the cover for Drake’s upcoming album Nothing Was the Same, which is now due out on September 24th, perhaps because Drake wanted a week to put off doing publicity for his album so he could play Grand Theft Auto 5 without interruption for a week. Or, maybe he just isn’t finished with his album yet. Whatever. Regardless, Drake released his album cover last night. It sucks, so says the internet cognoscenti. The head-in-front-of-clouds thing has been done to death, and it kinda-sorta looks like a Magic Card. It’s ridiculous, and proves that Drake has the self-awareness of a pair of corduroy pants.
Or does it?
Let us establish some things that need to be established.
One. Drake releasing his album cover is a Big Deal. Nothing Was the Same is undoubtedly going to be one of the best-selling albums of the year, and if all of the tracks that Drake has released so far are any indication, it’s also going to be one of the most well-received. Us talking about his album cover, even in jest, is proof of his massive influence.
Two. People were going to make fun of Drake’s album cover no matter what it looked like. Drake is one of the most endlessly mockable rappers around, but for the most part the jest he gets from us isn’t mean-spirited. We mess with him because we love him.
Three. Drake is one of the few rappers who could get people talking about an album cover. Most record covers seem like afterthoughts, especially in the download age. The fact that we care enough to prod also establishes that, just like guys like Kanye West, we code Drake as an “artist,” meaning we accept how he presents his art as part of his work itself.
Though we consider Drake an “artist,” we also consider him a “cornball.” This means that whenever Drake does anything, our first internal reaction tends to be, How can I make fun of this? Drake could have put out the coolest album cover of all time and we would have made fun of him for trying too hard, and if he put out something actively dumb we would have just made fun of it for being actively dumb. Drake definitely understands this, which frees him up to do whatever he wants. It seems the imagery of him growing from boy to a man is important to him, if the “Started from the Bottom” video is any indication. I applaud the fact that put out the exact cover he wanted to put out.
Furthermore, I can’t be the only one who gets slightly perturbed whenever people assume that a talented artist isn’t self-aware. Drake has an internet connection just like the rest of us. He knows how people feel about him, and you’re playing yourself if you think otherwise. It’s likely that Drake took stock of how his record cover was going to be received, said, “Fuck It,” and put it out anyway. It’s also not completely out of the question that Drake also thinks his cover is a little goofy and funny, but still thought it was cool. It’s consistently vexing when people assume that an artist can’t put out something that they’re invested in and still think is a little funny. “Funny” doesn’t have to exist in binary opposition to “Serious,” and Nothing Was the Same's cover is a testament to that.
More than anything, the Nothing Was the Same cover feels epic in a way that most record covers don’t dare to be. Drake may have made a goofy-looking record cover, but it's a cover that indicates purpose, gravity, and an overt aspiration to greatness. What's more Drake-like than that?
Drew Millard is the world's biggest Drake fan. He's on Twitter - @drewmillard