New albums, awkward dance moves and Madonna makeouts: the year in Drake
The 6 God inspires fervour all over the world, but his light shines brightest here. When Drake locks lips with Madonna, or expands his retail empire, or releases two hit albums in the span of a few months, it feels, somehow, like a victory for all of Toronto. And that’s because we’re watching, in real-time, as someone charts the upper limits of what’s possible if you’re from here. Drake is living proof that Toronto is an effective foundation for personal mythology. It’s not for nothing that we named him the most influential Torontonian of the year.
As 2015 draws to a close, it seems only appropriate to recap the biggest 365 days of young Aubrey’s life to date. Here, your year in Drake:
February 12: Drake drops a short film
It’s hard to follow, and arty, and weirdly compelling. It also turns out to be the preview for…
February 13: Drake releases a surprise album
If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late managed to both top the Billboard 200 and destroy Spotify’s first-week U.S. streaming record within three days of its release, with more than 17.3 million listens. (The old Spotify record, if you’re wondering, belonged to Drake’s 2013 record Nothing Was the Same.) Not bad for an album that was supposed to come out as a free mixtape until Drake’s label said otherwise.
April 12: Drake gets to second base with Madonna
At Coachella, after Drake finished performing “Madonna”—in which he tries to seduce a woman by telling her he could make her “as big as Madonna”—the actual Madonna walked on stage, wearing a shirt with “Big as Madonna” printed on it in huge letters. She performed “Human Nature” and a bit of “Hung Up,” then laid a massive smooch on Drizzy, tongue and all, before saying “Bitch, I’m Madonna” and walking off. Drake wiping all that Madonna spit off his mouth afterward became one of the weirdest and most enduring pop-culture images of the year.
June 5: Drake absolutely crushes the Governor’s Ball
New York’s massive annual outdoor festival was, as usual, packed with musical heavy hitters, but it turned out to be Drake’s party. After a high-energy sing-a-long version of “Take Care,” he managed to get a crowd of New Yorkers to yell “running through The 6 with my woes.”
July: Drake gets anointed by Apple
As part of a deal with Apple Music, Drake agreed to host OVO Sound Radio, a weekly show that allows him to debut new, OVO-affiliated artists, along with whatever else he’s into that week. Industry watchers expect Apple Music to have 20 million subscribers by the end of 2016, meaning Aubrey could soon be a tastemaker on an even larger scale.
July 21: Meek Mill makes a bad life choice, goes after Drake on Twitter
Mad that Drizzy wouldn’t help him promote his new record, Philly MC and Nicki Minaj’s boyfriend Meek Mill attacked Drake on Twitter. This ended badly for Mill when most of the hip-hop community came out as team Drake, and Drake eventually ended the beef by totally obliterating Meek with two diss tracks: “Charged Up” and “Back to Back.” The beef also had the unexpected side effect of making councillor Norm Kelly a viral sensation in online hip-hop circles.
August 3: OVO Fest happens again, is the best thing since last year’s OVO Fest
Drake’s sixth-annual celebration of Drakedom featured special guest appearances from Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Future, Travi$ Scott and Skepta. It also had a giant Norm Kelly on a projection screen, and a crowd that chanted “Fuck Meek Mill” unprovoked.
August 23: Drake kisses Serena Williams
Drizzy and Serena were spotted lip-to-lip at a Cincinnati restaurant after Williams’ win over Simona Halep at the Cincinnati Open. Drake was also spotted at Williams’s New York Fashion Week event (where he sat beside Anna Wintour), and in the stands during her US Open matches. (Her loss at that event spawned a #blamedrake hashtag.)
Sept. 20: Drake releases yet another album
What a Time to be Alive, a collaboration with Future, got mixed reviews, but was a commercial hit. It became Drake’s second album of the year to top the Billboard 200, selling the equivalent of 375,000 albums in the first week.
September 21: Drake gets into the restaurant business
Drake followed up his collaboration with Future by collaborating with superchef Susur Lee and his sons, Kai and Levi, on a King West bar and club called Fring’s. The exact nature of Drake’s involvement in the business is still unknown. Regardless, the place opened in September after being teased on Instagram and Vine by both Drake and Lee.
October 19: The “Hotline Bling” video turns Drake’s awkward dance moves into a global obsession
The song debuted in July at 66 on the Billboard singles charts, but it wasn’t until the video came out in October that it became a mega-hit. Drake’s Elaine Benes–like dance moves spawned a thousand parodies and memes. Eventually, Hotline mania pushed the song all the way to number two, making it Drake’s highest-charting single as a lead artist, tied with “Best I Ever Had.”
November 4: Drake puts up a mysterious billboard
The mysterious ad, featuring praying hands and the phrase “The 6 God is Watching,” appeared over the Gardiner Expressway with no explanation. Drake is like the NSA that way.
November 18: Drake releases a women’s clothing line
After years of having to steal their boyfriend’s hoodies, female Drake fans got OVO gear of their very own when Drake’s brand dropped its first women’s collection, filled with sleek, black-with-gold-accent, athletic-inspired pieces.
November 19 (still): The internet goes apeshit over six seconds of new Drake music
The teaser for his forthcoming album, Views From the Six, which could be out as soon as next month, came in the form of six seconds of unheard Drake music on a Vine loop. The visual seems to be Drake’s carpet.
December 5: Angelenos camp out in anticipation of the opening of Drake’s L.A. store
Drake fans, hypebeasts, eBay resellers and line enthusiasts waited for up to 17 hours to be the first people into OVO’s first U.S. location. Good for them?
December 14: People buy lipstick because it happens to have Drake’s name on it
Part of Tom Ford’s Lips & Boys collection, inspired by important men in Ford’s life, the limited-edition Drake 60 sold out within minutes of hitting stores. It’s now going for around $70—twice the original retail price—on eBay.