Falling Back in Love with Drake’s ‘So Far Gone’ 10 Years Later
Is nostalgia the music industry’s new marketing strategy?
It has been 10 years since my love affair started with So Far Gone , and it’s fair to say that I’m still in love. The mixtape took Aubrey Graham from his prior alias as “Wheelchair Jimmy” from the hit show, Degrassi. He was no longer the awkward looking biracial kid who served as the token basketball star on the show (which he later got shot and changed the trajectory of his storyline).
I connected to Drake because, like many of his fans, I wanted to know what he had to offer as a musician. Never in my wildest dreams would the actor I grew up watching in middle school turn into a mega superstar. Before the mixtape dropped, it was “Replacement Girl” that gave me my first taste of Drake’s abilities. I remember watching MTV one day, and literally screaming when I saw him pop on the screen next to Trey Songz on the song “Replacement Girl.” As soon as I saw my best friend the next day, we were both talking about the video as if it was the second coming of Christ and we were raptured.
Not only was Drake attractive, but he could also rap and sing— which was something other rappers were not doing at the time. While some people were questioning if he would fit into an R&B or hip-hop box, he was getting ready to change the rap game as we know it forever.
When So Far Gone came out in 2009, I was a sophomore in college (yes, I’m old) who filled their time outside of class and partying by listening to mixtapes. Back then, mixtapes were how new artists came on-the-scene and attracted their very first fanbase. Through a mixtape, we were able to pop a CD in our car and ceremoniously introduce our friends to a new artist they hadn’t heard of yet. Once you heard that artist transfer from the mixtape world to dropping their first official EP, they were almost old news accompanied by the fear that they’d start to sound too “commercial.”
Drake proved us wrong.
The hunger he brought to his mixtape was heard from beginning to end, from “Lust for Life” to “Congratulations.” Songs, like “Houstatlantavegas” and “A Night Off” feat. Lloyd, appealed to his female audience members who wanted sultry vibes, while “November 18th” paid homage to a sound created by Houston rap legends. Drake fed every listener’s appetite by making men feel like they could relate to his rap without making women feel left out. If Trey Songz and Lil Wayne had a baby… it would be Drake.
“When my album drop, b*****s’ll buy it for the picture,
And n****s’ll buy it too and claim they got it for they sister” — Drake, Best I Ever Had
My most distinct memory of the now 32-year-old was watching him perform while I was in college. Those were the days when artists still toured college campuses to perform at the early stages of their career because they needed to tap into a broader audience. I remember attending his concert at Cal State Bakersfield when tickets were only twenty dollars, and saying to my friends, “One day he’s going to be huge.” He hit the stage wearing (what looked like) sweatpants and a simple white tee. He looked scruffy, but when his hand touched the mic, he commanded the room’s attention.
Imagine a small space with a couple hundred college kids who were partially drunk, dancing to the opening act – the New Boyz – as they performed “You’re A Jerk” before this pale kid from Canada taking the stage. It smelled like a mix of four locos and limited knowledge of boundaries. However, the entire college tour is what solidified Drake as a permanent fixture on most of our playlists. His mixtape also earned the respect of many rap vets who found his sound to be an effortless balance of a heavy-hitting delivery and a laid-back flow.
Bun B considers Drake one of the top 10 rap artists in the game, and rightfully so— he’s earned his stripes to stand alongside greats, like Jay-Z, Kanye West, and his mentor Lil Wayne. This is not to say Drake is one of the best rappers in the game because obviously that’s an entirely different conversation, but his style is legendary.
“[Drake] was able to go from a very laid back delivery to a fiery delivery with ease. Most artists are either/or, they’re fiery lyrically or very heavy on wordplay, or they’re a laid-back player style. It was interesting how he can go back and forth not just through a project, but in the midst of a single verse.” — Bun B., Billboard
It’s fair to say that the music industry is capitalizing on nostalgia just as much as the rest of society. With reboots of old shows, like Nickelodeon’s All That appealing to late 20s to 30-somethings still caught in a time loop, this marketing scheme could be the next wave for music.
According to Billboard, the album is slated to debut at the top five of their 200 charts with nearly 45,000 album units earned since the first week. With it being the first time a mixtape has been distributed for commercial use or on streaming services, the projected numbers could start a new trend.
Could mixtapes and rereleased albums be the answer to our music needs this year?
— Charmaine Griffin