Hip-Hop has long been a genre that has been dominated by the East Coast and West Coast. Jay Z, Nas, Dr. Dre, Tupac and Biggie were all from New York or California. Drake is one of the first rappers to break through on the other side of America: Canada.
The man is an Anomaly who has managed to do what no one before him has done.
Drake inspired Toronto to mint its own brand of hip-hop. Drake single handedly helped to put the music scene in his city on the map. But what's most interesting about Drake's success in hip-hop is how he has managed to transition from rapper to business mogul.
Drake is a different kind of artist, one who pushes past his appreciation for the genre and has expanded outside of rap into other areas — clothing lines, a record label, a popular internet radio station — that have made him one of the most wealthy musicians on earth. Drake is worth an estimated $180 million and has made it into ranks of the top 10 richest rappers. But in honesty, many fail to understand how Drake made it all the way from a unknown Canadian rapper to who he is today. After researching and studying his career for years now, I've come up with an answer. And that answer is simply this: Drake's business strategies have been utterly impressive.
He has mastered the networking effect for starters. During the infancy of his career, Drake collaborated with big stars like Lil Wayne and Kanye West. He borrowed their platforms and built himself up to the top of the rap scene, moving from an up-and-comer and into a formidable artist who was paving his own path within the entertainment powerhouse that is America.
But his marketing strategies are more than just collaborating with other big stars. Drake understands his industry. He knows that music is a young person's sport and in order to stay relevant he'll need to connect with those coming up after him. For this reason, Drake will frequently collaborate with younger artists on the indie scene. It's a mutually beneficial relationship, he gets the recognition from a younger (and possibly newer) fanbase and they get to work with one of the best in the game.
He has also mastered the art of branding, and he's created an image for himself that is not only appealing but also a highly marketable entity. From the cleverly deigned OVO owl logo to his praying hands symbol. These images have become synonymous with Drake himself, and have been plastered all over his project work. Reportedly, when designing iconic owl, Drake considered the significance of owls and how they're typically symbolic for wisdom. Is Drake implying that he has a deeper meaning behind his music? Most likely. Drake has managed to create a story brand by associating his brand imagery with deep meanings.
Drake also understands the value of perception. He knows that the way he is seen by his fans has a direct correlation with how people will buy his music. So Drake strategically creates an image of himself as someone who cares, constantly employing vulnerability and honesty in his music. For example, Drake used the video of his 2018 "God's Plan" single to showcase his philanthropic side. The rapper was issued a total production budget of over $996K, but rather than go wild with it, he donated the money. It was a genius move and captured attention far more than if Drake had just spent that $996K on himself. This puts drake in a league by myself because if we are being truthful, most rappers would not have given a penny to charity. Instead, a flashy video that pulls out all the stops would have been produced.
But that's not to say he does know how to show or that he doesn't understand the value of image and rolling style. In early in 2019, Drake showcased a stylish $220M Private Boeing 767 Jet, but the gesture was not all it appeared to be. The private condo-style plane is not Drake's, but he gets to use it whenever he wants. Word is the Cargojet, a Canadian scheduled cargo company, owns the jet and uses it to transport freights along with precious cargo Drake. This is not something that is known by most people. The new articles, blog post and Drake himself, only focused on "his brand new new jet" and not how it was attained. So the majority of people still think Drake owns a massive 767 and pays for fueling, pilots, maintenance and airport fees.
Drake stands as an example for many entrepreneurs to follow, whether they are in the entertainment industry or not. Sure, his journey to the top has not been an easy one, but Drake is testament to the importance of executing strategies well in order to achieve success.
There are already others who have also made successful transitions from rapper to business billionaire mogul, such as Jay-Z and P Diddy. To date, Drake's trajectory has been similar to theirs, so it would not be surprising to see Toronto's King of Rap on their same level with another decade or two.