Voice of a generation Drake stopped by NYU's Skirball Center on Sunday to chat with Elliott Wilson of RapRadar as part of the latter's #CRWN series of conversations with rappers. As you might have guessed, there were some feelings, as well as plenty of tidbits and revelations that had the crowd of rabid Drake admirers in stitches.
First things first: Drake is a charming 26-year-old man. There are plenty of fair criticisms of his relationships with women (as catalogued in his songs, more on that later) and habit of plopping personal details from the lives of others (like his mom, more on that later, too), but on stage, Drake comes across as a hybrid of a comic and an open diary. ("I feel like I'm doing stand-up," he said at one point.)
The first portion of the chat airs on Myspace on Wednesday, with parts two and three of the long conversation premiering Thursday and Friday.
Here are some of the night's most interesting revelations (all of which took place after Drake mocked Wilson for pouring Moet, then cracked open a bottle of the same beverage and poured a glass for an attendee he quickly decided was a mom). The rapper's highly anticipated and well-received album "Nothing Was the Same" hits stores on Tuesday.
Drake hates "Off That," the song he and Jay Z recorded for the latter's "Blueprint III" album. "There were some things I would have said differently," the rapper admitted, noting that his vocals were supposed to be references for another performer. "I didn't really feel like I was in a position to say no," he said.
Drake's mom was really angry about "Too Much," a "Nothing Was the Same" track that includes the line, "Hate the fact my mom cooped up in her apartment, tellin' herself / That she's too sick to get dressed up and go do shit, like that's true shit." According to Drake, he gave his mom the album on an iPod and asked that she listen to the song. When she expressed her outrage, Drake reminded her that they had discussed it before, but her feelings on the matter prompted the disclaimer which began his Fallon performance of the song ("Before I do this song, I just want to say to my friends and family, I want the best for everybody, and I love you all.”). The rapper was visibly emotional while retelling this story.
Drake does -- and doesn't -- care about your blogs and tweets. One of the more exciting inside-baseball moments of the night was Drake telling Wilson -- who runs RapRadar, a prominent rap news site, and calls himself the "King of Twitter," that the online rap world "doesn't matter." "That's not real," Drake said, noting that if he can tour and perform for fans, he doesn't care what keyboard jockeys have to say. That said, he's "on there more than you might think."
Drake subtweets, a revelation that was born from the rapper's skillful sidestep of a probing question asked by an audience member. The question was actually about why he feels justified shading or referencing real-life women in songs, and whether or not he thinks that inspires other men to subtweet. "I don't out people," Drake said, noting that "all of [the women mentioned in songs] love it." (The first part of that claim is demonstrably false, and the other's probably debatable.)
"My next album is always going to be my best album."
He wants to make an all-singing album, when he's older: "I'm looking forward to bringing you that."
He's not too worried about Kendrick Lamar, the rapper who included him on a verse on Big Sean's "Control" track, wherein Lamar put his competitors on notice. Drake appreciated that "Kendrick is giving people moments -- that was a moment. But what's the first line of that verse?" Wilson couldn't answer, and Drake's shrug set the crowd into overdrive.
Drake and Jay Z's "Pound Cake" song was meant for "Magna Carta Holy Grail, sort of. Drake, who really appreciates Jay Z's support, said the elder rapper actually sent him the verses acapella. Together with producer Noah "40" Shebib, they created the track and added Drake's bit. Hov then wanted the tracks for "MCHG," but Drake convinced him to let go of the track, and now it's on "Nothing Was the Same."
Drake knows about your memes and doesn't really mind.
The rapper's upcoming feature on Justin Timberlake's album appears on "Cabaret," and is a full 24 bars. "I might have even sung a Lil Boosie song in the middle.
Drake told a funny story about when he stopped caring about Twitter: On his mom's birthday, Drake was scrolling through tweets wishing his mom well. And then: "Some guy was like, 'I hope your mom dies in an accident tonight. So obviously I looked at his account, and he was on there in a Tyler, the Creator sweatshirt, probably jacking off to Grand Theft Auto."
"Hold On, We're Going Home" came out of Drake's desire to have a "timeless, wedding song."
Drake and Wu-Tang connect: The rapper has a "Wu-Tang Forever" remix coming that features the Clan, and says Ghostface called him to praise the track and deny ownership of the Twitter account that dissed it.
Paraphrasing here, but: "There's only one person staying up at night to make things new and better and that is Kanye West."
Drake's fans really love him. Press and VIPs were given the first two rows and waited for admittance into the auditorium with members of Drake's "die-hard" fan club. Overheard stories included fans who turned away from suicide and cutting thanks for a connection felt with Drake, a middle-aged fan who feels a special bond with the rapper and more. The die-hards were of all genders, races and ages, and their existence alone is gives voice to the argument that what Drake loses when he's criticized as not "hard" or "aggressive" enough of a rapper, he more than makes up for by helping people work out their own feelings alongside him.
Lady Gaga - ARTPOP - Nov. 11
Pop's reigning queen of the delightfully odd recently revealed seven new songs off her forthcoming album-cum-iPhone-app, and everything we've heard so far suggests "ARTPOP" will be her most diverse outing yet. (She raps with T.I. and Twista and Too $hort makes an appearance!) A lot has changed since Gaga released "Born This Way" two years ago, and Katy Perry's "Roar" handily defeated Gaga's "Applause" in first-week singles sales, but anyone counting Gaga out is probably sorely mistaken.
Drake - Nothing Was the Same - Sept. 24
We'd be remiss if we didn't <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=drake%20album%20from%3Aernestbaker_&src=typd" target="_blank">point you in the direction of Ernest Baker's "Drake album about to be that _____ music" series of tweets</a> (example: "had a conversation with the guy you cheated with to get the full details"), but honestly, we'd be lying if we weren't just plain excited for Aubrey Graham's third studio album. Every song that he's released this summer has been a hit in one capacity or another ("5AM in Toronto," "All Me," "Hold On, We're Going Home," "Started From the Bottom," "The Motion," etc.) and his remix to the Migos' "Versace" became the defining club hit of the summer. Count him out as many times as you want, but if this album impresses, there's no doubt that Drake will be remembered as one of this generation's most dynamic talents in rap.
Katy Perry - Prism - Oct. 22
You've already heard her "Roar," and whether or not Perry's lead single sounds too similar to Sara Bareilles' "Brave," one thing is for certain: Perry will return with some new version of Dr. Luke, Bonnie McKee and friend's golden cocktail of pop hits. Perry's messaging (the burning of her "Teenage Dream"-era wig, etc) seems a bit overbearing for music that has yet to surprise, but perhaps Katy Kat has some tricks up her sleeve.
Eminem - "MMLP2" - Nov. 5
In a year that's already seen LPs from some of rap's biggest names (Jay, Kanye) and most talked about newcomers (J. Cole, Meek Mill, Wale, etc.), Eminem's project remains something of a holy grail (a different one than JT was singing about). The wildly anticipated project will feature "Berzerk," Eminem's first solid single in a long time that doesn't sound like he's playing preacher. Expect some fire, but whether or not Rick Rubin can fully stoke the embers of Marshall's creative energy to full force remains to be seen.
Pearl Jam - Lightning Bolt - Oct. 15
"Lightning Bolt," Pearl Jam's 10th studio album and first since 2009, is obviously highly anticipated among the band's die hard fans, but it's the newbies who might want to take note. "I think it's a great representation of their work right now," <a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/5679998/pearl-jam-shares-lightning-bolt-track-list" target="_hplink">producer Brendan O'Brien told Billboard</a>. "If you like Pearl Jam, you'll love this. And if you haven't listened to Pearl Jam in awhile, I think it's going to bring you in. That's the whole idea." The album's lead single, "Mind Your Manners," is a good representation of that edict: the song is a straight-up rocker that also recalls the band's often experimental work on 1994's "Vitalogy."
Beyonce - TBD - TBD
There's neither a date nor a title for Beyonce's supposedly forthcoming fifth studio album, but we've seen glimpses of what it could sound like: Anthemic ("Grown Woman"), sugary ("Standing in the Sun") and perhaps even angry ("Bow Down," which likely wont' appear on the album). We've heard rumors of B having collected some of music's biggest heavy hitters around her for the effort, but no matter how many hits The-Dream puts to paper, it's Beyonce who's going to have to pull it all together and give the Beyhive something to rock with.
Miley Cyrus - BANGERZ - Oct. 8
Oh, Miley. The young star has spent the summer mingling with rappers and slurring her way through songs about doing drugs and not stopping, so expect a handful of Mike Will Made It-produced strip club jams mixed with emotional sing-song anthems like "Wrecking Ball." Cyrus has done a good job of making sure all eyes are on her, and she hasn't done it in the most respectable way, but perhaps on Oct. 8 she'll make good on all the attention-seeking and put out something listenable.
Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience Part II - Sept. 30
JT couldn't just make one comeback album, he had to make too. Expect plenty of Timbaland's instantly recognizable drum work here, and though it's too early to really tell how the LP will sound, lead single "Take Back the Night" is a strong first offering.
2 Chainz - B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time -- Sept. 10
Of all of the work Pharrell Williams has put in this year, "Feds Watching" might just be the most enduring product. The party anthem freakishly told you that you weren't the only one reading your emails and listening to your lover's voice on the phone before Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald got around to it, but that's not all surprising given that we're talking about the rapper who brought back leather pants and Versace tees a full year before every other rapper followed suit. Tauheed Epps isn't one to sleep on.
Avicii - True - Sept. 13
Tim Bergling's first studio album debuted as a bit of a downer. The Swedish phenom behind EDM's largest song of the past half-decade, "Levels," was headlining Miami's Ultra Music Festival when he stopped DJ'ing mid-set to allow for instruments and live performers to come on stage and work through "True," his major label LP that's an interesting blend of soul, folk and dance. The Aloe Blacc-assisted lead single "Wake Me Up" has been an interminable summer anthem, and a number of people who worked on the project have told us that Bergling seems to have pulled off the nearly impossible.
Arctic Monkeys - AM - Sept. 10
Alex Turner never really became John Lennon (or Paul McCartney), but he's turned into quite a charming Alex Turner. He's said he wants his album to get to a place where he can do things that would be seen as cheesy if they were done by others (his reference for this was Aaliyah, do with that what you will), while also making Real '70s Rock.
Britney Spears - TBD - Sept. 17 (Maybe)
Like Lady Gaga, Britney hasn't released a true album since 2011. Unlike Lady Gaga, she's already delivered a full body of work and tried her hand at a number of other careers. There's no official confirmation that Britney's releasing an album on Sept. 17, but a countdown clock on her website suggests that <em>something</em> will happen on that date. And honestly, in a year that sees likes of Cher and Celine Dion chugging some honey tea and jumping back in the ring, why shouldn't Spears step out again?
Cher - Closer to the Truth - Sept. 24
Cher has been doing more than tweeting up a storm of wildly confusing and enthralling missives. She's also been prepping "Closer to the Truth," her 26th studio album. Cher told the world the LP the best she's ever done, and also hinted that it will most closely resemble 1998's "Believe." The lead single, "A Woman's World," saw the 67-year-old toss together a smattering of wigs and girl-power themes for a competent song that didn't turn <em>too</em> many heads. Stay tuned.
Celine Dion - Loved Me Back to Life - Nov. 5
Celine Dion released the title track off her forthcoming LP earlier this week, and the track comes off as a refreshing lightning bolt of a single. The skittering dubstep combined with soaring vocals for something entirely new from Dion, but what's new isn't always popular on the internet, where the song was derided for sounding a bit too much like Beyonce or even Skylar Grey. It's still a refreshing tease, and one would be remiss to forget that Dion knows her way around a microphone.
Paul McCartney - NEW - Oct. 15
If a TLC (sans the "L") album doesn't seem like something you're down with, feel free to scoop up Paul McCartney's "NEW," which is out the same week. Macca tapped the likes of Mark Ronson, Paul Epworth and Ethan Johns for the project. It remains to be seen if the Beatle will follow down the dance-inflected path he stepped on with "Out of Sight," his collaboration with the Bloody Beetroots.
DJ Khaled - Suffering From Success - Oct. 22
A DJ Khaled album is a weird thing, because the producer doesn't seem to do much except get a crowd of usual suspects (Nicki, Wayne, Drake, Ross, Future, rinse, repeat) together for capable club anthems bookended by his incessantly shouted catchphrases ("We the best!" "I'm the best that ever did it!"). In a barrage of Instagram posts, Khaled promises the album will reveal what he has been "threw" and asks that we trust him ("jus kno"). "No New Friends" and "I Wanna Be With You" sound good enough, but unfortunately Khaled's iPhone snaps might be the best thing the producer has ever or will ever do.
Chris Brown - X - TBD
Breezy's summer has been anything but, a cavalcade of accusations (some true, others, not) have derailed his do-good mission. The singer has gone so far as to suggest he'll withdraw from the music industry after "X," saying that he's tired of being famous for his "mistakes." "Fine China" impressed his fans and didn't exactly offend those who shy away from Brown's brand of R&B. He's used Aaliyah's voice ("Don't Think They Know") and tapped perennial feature Nicki MInaj ("Love More"), so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the LP includes the Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Sam Cooke influence Brown claims inform the project.
MIA - Matangi - Nov. 5
It's hard not to love MIA, who took to Twitter with threats to leak her album and called out Interscope by name over release delays. (Shortly thereafter, the label set a date.) The "Bad Girls" singer seems to be staying mostly in her lane here, as "Bring the Noize" positioned her as the queen of an aggressively partying underground world. But there's always room for something new as well: On "Come Walk With Me," MIA spends half the track sing-songing her way through anti-party messages before flipping the record on its head with a thumping beat. Always fun, right?
Elvis Costello & The Roots - Wise Up Ghost - Sept. 17
The Roots don't really do collaboration albums that aren't worth at least one listen. Last year's "Wake Up!" saw Questlove's band teaming up with John Legend for a memorable outing, and Costello's voice seems like a wonderful foil for the Roots' funky jam-band sensibilities.
Kaskade - Atmosphere - Sept. 10
Dance music's enduring nice guy sings (for the first time) on his upcoming album's lead single, a bad idea that paid off shockingly well. In theory, DJing for millions of people over tens of years should endow Kaskade (born Ryan Raddon) with some insight into what it takes to make effective dance music, and his recent albums haven't disappointed. It's worth noting, as well, that Raddon took to Twitter to implore fans to consider <em>not</em> doing drugs in the wake of a string of deaths at dance music events. His reasoning was a refreshing burst of sincerity in a party-driven scene. (Raddon himself is sober.)
Arcade Fire - TBD - Oct. 29
It's hard to know what's really coming out of the Arcade Fire camp, especially since James Murphy -- the producer who first said he wasn't involved -- hasn't had much to say except that everyone in the group got along well during the creative process. Time will tell.
Jack Johnson - From Here to Now to You - Sept. 17
Johnson dragged himself off a surf board for long enough to record his sixth studio album. His past four LPs have debuted in the Top 3 on Billboard's chart, with the last two debuting at No. 1, so there's a heavy level of anticipation here. But if there's anyone who can stay calm and deliver something sunny enough, though, it's Johnson.
Lorde - Pure Heroine - Sept. 30
It's been a a long time since anyone has had as exciting of a pop debut as that of Lorde, a teenager who burst onto the scene with "Royals." The track, a snarky tune that sets the best of Lorde's brooding voice against a simple, almost spare arrangement, went off like a gunshot in the blogosphere -- for good reason. Since then, the 16-year-old has released a string of competent tracks and an EP that went platinum three times in Australia -- all while meticulously controlling her image and messaging. Expect greatness.
Elton John - The Diving Board - Sept. 24
This album marks John's first solo LP in seven years and will be split across 12 new songs and three interludes. "The Diving Board" is produced by T-Bone Burnett and comes with lyrics from John's longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin. “In many ways, I feel like I’m starting again, making records," John said when announcing the album. "Several years ago when beginning to work with T-Bone and being in the studio with Leon Russell for 'The Union,' I had to ask myself, ‘What kind of music do I really want to make?’, and I realized that I had to go back to go forward again. I needed to strip away the excesses and get back to the core of what I do as an artist."
Enrique Iglesias - TBD - November
The as-of-yet untitled project has already birthed Spanish ("Loco") and English ("Turn the Night Up") singles, a sign that Iglesias may be retracing his own footsteps (2010's "Euphoria was also bilingual). The album will feature Marc Taylor and the Cataracs and is produced by Iglesias' longtime collaborator Carlos Paucar.
HAIM - Days Are Gone - Sept. 30
It's nice to see sister act HAIM finally have their moment, especially on a project that seems as charming and powerful as "Days Are Gone." "Forever" and "The Wire" tease throwbacks to '70s rock, while the album's title track dips into classic R&B for influences. HAIM's will be a popular album, but don't expect it to be a one-note pop record.
Kelly Clarkson - Wrapped in Red - Oct. 29
Pop's darling returns with her first-ever holiday album, a mix of classics ("Silent Night") and original tunes for the season ("Underneath the Tree," "Wrapped in Red"). Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood stop by for features, giving the project a shot at being a classic Christmas effort.
The Weeknd - Kiss Land - Sept. 10
Abel Tesfaye, the no longer mysterious R&B crooner behind prescription drug-laden bedroom tales of lust and … lust, ups the stakes on "Kiss Land." A heavier project with hints of industrialism, the album sees Tesfaye strive for something new. Blame it on the fact that his earlier work (split across three EPs which were re-released as "The Trilogy" last year), but the singer's voice is too consistently trying to be cool and seductive to approach intrigue. Still, Tesfaye's die-hard fans (however many of them are left), will be impressed with the LP.
Panic! At The Disco - Too Weird to Love, Too Rare to Die! - Oct. 8
It's a good time to be a pop rock band from the mid-oughts. Fall Out Boy blazed their way back into the fore earlier this year, and Panic! is wise to quickly line up behind them. The band doesn't have many of its original members left (the original guitarist and bassist left to form the Young Veins and the group's drummer has taken a break to fight drug addiction), so frontman Brandon Urie basically stands alone. The lead single, "This Is Gospel," serves up exactly what listeners want from Panic! They can get plenty more when they buy tickets to see Fall Out Boy. Urie and whoever he collects for the tour are opening.
Sting - The Last Ship - Sept. 24
In <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sting/the-last-ship_b_3384993.html" target="_blank">a blog he wrote for The Huffington Post</a>, Sting describes his upcoming LP as a "musical play" and reveals its his first writing effort in eight years. "I'd lost the urge to create -- the urge that had driven me most of my life," he said. "But once I decided to turn these memories of my childhood into a narrative, and began to think of writing for other people -- for other characters, from other viewpoints apart from my own -- the songs came very quickly. I wasn't in the way anymore." As such, he hopes that the album whets the appetite of his listeners for the 2014 play.
Icona Pop - This Is… Icona Pop - Sept. 20
It's hard to follow up a smash hit single when you don't have much else to stand on, but Icona Pop has done a commendable job of releasing songs that function nearly as well as "I Love It." Of their latest efforts, "All Night" and the Tupac-quoting "Girlfriend," it's the former that makes the most sense for their brand, and accordingly so, that's one that you'll be hearing the most of this fall.
Future - Honest - Nov. 26
While Nicki Minaj is probably rap's most featured when it comes to guest verses, Future's hooks are have become the glue that keeps the industry's biggest club hits together. His warbled, robotic voice goes further than T-Pain and drips emotion in way that approaches beauty. "Pluto," Future's 2012 album, was a bit bloated at 15 songs, but if he can match the intensity of "Same Damn Time" with the emotions of the work he put in on tracks like Rihanna's "Loveeee Song," Future could have something special on his hands.
Keith Urban - Fuse - Sept. 10
Urban's eighth studio album features duets with Miranda Lambert and Eric Church and was written by over 30 scribe. Stargate, the duo behind Selena Gomez' "Come and Get It," Rihanna's "Diamonds" and a slew of other pop and urban hits, make an appearance ("Shame"), so don't expect typical Urban. The singer said he was inspired when he heard that Bono saw "Achtung Baby" as the opposite of "Joshua Tree." In a word, <a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/the-615/1564963/keith-urbans-fuse-is-lit-talks-up-diversity-of-new-album" target="_blank">he told Billboard</a>, the album will be full of "diversity."
Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull - Sept. 24
The group made up of three brothers (Nathan, Caleb and Jared Followill) and their cousin Matthew ended their last tour abruptly amid rumors of turmoil, making "Mechanical Bull" a highly anticipated return to normalcy. Early reads say it's going to be great.
Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady - Sept. 10
She's teamed up with the likes of Prince, so Janelle Monae is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. Miguel and Erykah Badu also stop by for appearances, pretty much guaranteeing that this is a can't-miss album.
MGMT - MGMT - Sept. 17
"I don't even know if it's music we would want to listen to," Andrew VanWyngarden told Rolling Stone of MGMT's forthcoming third album. "It's just what's coming out of us. We didn't make a single compromise." That's probably an endorsement, but whether fans are ready for more of MGMT's brand of psychedelic rock (which, it's worth noting, varied wildly between their first and second albums), remains to be seen.
TLC - TBD - Oct. 15
The famed trio remains down a member following the tragic death of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in 2002, but T-Boz and Chilli are forging ahead with a compilation album that will also feature some new material. Songs written by Ne-Yo ("Meant to Be") and Lady Gaga ("Posh Life") have already been contributed, but not that much else is known at this time.