What do you think of when you hear the word “innovation”?
When I think of innovation I think of something truly groundbreaking. Something that emerges that had never been seen before and takes the world by storm. There’s a very thin line between innovation and simply combining things that had already existed, but that’s what I think makes it special. And we haven’t seen any innovation in a very long time.
We see tons of improvements every day in all facets of life. Video games have seen a dramatic improvement in graphics and realism but computer games existed as long ago as World War II. There’s been a huge wave of adding computers and technology to household appliances to create “smart appliances”, but again, this is simply combining two things that already existed before. I would argue that the last true innovation occurred with the creation of the internet and the creation of MP3’s, both which were groundbreaking changes to the way society as a whole functioned. Which is fitting because whenever I discuss innovation I feel the need to discuss Aubrey Graham.
Graham, better known by his middle name and stage name Drake, is a musician from Toronto that has come to define our current internet/MP3 generation. Drake has been one of the most successful musicians since his debut in 2009, but since the whole Quentin Miller/ghostwriting fiasco that saw his legacy and credibility get tarnished, he arguably hasn’t hit the heights of his first three albums. He came out worse for wear after his war of words with rapper Pusha T as well, and it feels like it’s been awhile since anyone was truly excited for a new Drake album. All of that changed with the recent release of “Certified Lover Boy”.
The album contains 21 tracks of Drake doing his best impersonation of older Drake songs, and I love it. My favorite Drake albums are either “Nothing Was The Same”, “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” or “Take Care”, and I feel like this album perfectly encapsulates the sounds and emotions of those three albums into a package that feels both old and new simultaneously. I get that being dragged through the mud by the hip hop community during his past beefs and scandals has made him want to try new lanes, such as reggaeton and R&B, but people have been listening to Drake since “So Far Gone” to hear emotional, vulnerable, toxic rap music. Drake trying to reinvent himself on “Scorpion” into a menacing rapper who’s upset with everything is not the Drake I grew to know and love. I’m here for new Instagram captions and odes to women he can no longer be with, but it seems like I’m in the minority on this.
Only music fans demand and require constant innovation from their favorite artists. We’re totally fine in every other aspect of life getting marginal advancements and improvements on things we’ve grown to love, and yes I’m speaking directly to “Fast & Furious” fans here. No one asks Steve Harvey to switch up his style of comedy when he appears on “Family Feud”, but we expect totally new artistic directions from Drake, Eminem and others to the point that Lady Gaga’s new innovative direction is to be herself. We’re constantly clamoring for something shiny and new instead of giving artists the freedom to make subtle tweaks to their catalogs following the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra. And I’m glad to see Drake bucking the trend to go back to the basics.
Now, if only someone would pass this message along to Kanye West.
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