Drake Beat Drake to Make 2018 Drake’s Best Year Ever

A rewind of Drake’s wild year as a streaming god, chart ruler and accolade snatcher

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Remember the first 18 days of 2018? Bank accounts across the world were emptied at the news of Beyoncé  headlining Coachella and Fortnite characters weren’t dancing like rappers. Simpler times, indeed.

Then, Jan. 19 happened, and 2018 as we knew it was Drake’s. The release of his first single “God’s Plan” not only marked the first of his two double-digit-week runs atop the Billboard Hot 100 (alongside his July release of “In My Feelings”), but it set off a 2018 that was the best year of his already illustrious career.

From “God’s Plan” immediately breaking single-day streaming records on Apple Music and Spotify to the Recording Academy giving the song Grammy nominations for Song of the Year and Record of the Year, in addition to his major Album of the Year nod for Scorpion, Drake surmounted even his most successful years of the past when Drake had to make one thing clear: His dominance can never be broken by anyone but himself.

Making History by Breaking It

Pusha T was the first person to ever rip through Drake’s ostensibly impregnable fortress of hits with his scathing diss song “The Story of Adidon.” Drake was explaining blackface photos on Instagram, not clarifying if he had a son or not and essentially forfeiting the battle through third parties, in a matter of weeks. Yet, after the smoke cleared, the world at large peered through the gaping hole in Drake’s fortress and saw nothing but another impenetrable wall of hits and not a scratch on Drake.

In July, a month after conceding defeat to Pusha T, and a week after his chart-topping album Scorpion came out, Drake surpassed The Beatles in simultaneous Billboard Top 10 hits, posting 7 songs in the top 10.

Three months later, he further buried the boys from Liverpool when he became the first artist in history to appear on 12 songs that reached the Billboard Top 10 in one year. Unlike any other year, 2018 saw him face his toughest challenge to his credibility, and before you could blink he was all you saw, and all you heard.

A week after Scorpion’s release, Drake became the first artist with 27 songs simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100. That beat the record of 24 songs simultaneously on the charts held by none other than Drake himself for his 2017 playlist-that-is-really-an-album More Life. Drake was breaking records that he set in 2018, because when you have a year as successful as Drake’s, you soon see that your biggest competition is really yourself.

Drake vs. Drake

Nothing is a mark of true dominance like replacing yourself as the best. Michael Jordan’s status as the greatest basketball player of all time is largely based on the two three-year spans in the NBA when the only person who replaced him and the Chicago Bulls as the champions of the NBA were themselves. After “God’s Plan” spent 11 weeks at No. 1, which is only one of two dozen songs in music history to spend that many weeks at the summit, it was replaced by Drake’s “Nice For What.” Three months later, after “Nice For What” spent a collective eight weeks at No. 1 it was dethroned by what could be considered the song of the summer, Drake’s “In My Feelings,” which peaked at No. 1 for ten weeks.   

Drake’s 2018 felt historic but not surprising. That’s because of what he did in 2016. His album Views produced Drake’s first No. 1 record as the lead artist (“One Dance”), sold four million records in eight months and broke almost every streaming record for an album. For almost every artist selling songs, that would be an insurmountable peak. For Drake, it was child’s play.

Views may have sold more than Scorpion, but it didn’t hit as hard on the charts. Views generated 245 million streams in the U.S. in its first week of release. Drake’s Scorpion album nearly doubled that in just three days with a whopping 435 million streams en route to an unthinkable one billion streams in the album’s first full week. That can largely be attributed to Views being an Apple Music exclusive for the album’s first week. But, you can argue that Drake became the streaming king in 2016 and became the streaming god in 2018.

Drake also landed at No. 4 on Forbes’ highest paid hip-hop acts list raking in $47 million. That’s about half of the insane $94 million he made in 2017. However, that 2017 total accounted for the majority of his 44-show Boy Meets World tour that ran from January until November that year, and factored heavily in his big haul. Whereas the Forbes numbers for 2018 were published in September, mere weeks after Drake’s Aubrey & the Three Amigos Tour with Migos started. So, Drake made nearly $47 million without hitting the road, with endorsements and by monetizing what is known as “The Drake Effect.”

The Drake Effect

On his 2013 song “5 AM In Toronto,” Drake raps, “Give these n****s the look, the verse, and even the hook. That's why every song sound like Drake featuring Drake.” That’s The Drake Effect. When Drake is featured on someone’s song, so much of the attention the song receives gravitates toward Drake that the song is either mistaken as Drake’s song, taken to heights the lead artist had never been before, or both.

Meek Mill, once a foe and someone Drake went to public lengths to embarrass, can thank his biggest success on the Billboard charts to The Drake Effect. A week after the world got to hear “Going Bad” from Meek’s 2018 album Championships—the pair’s first collaboration since the feud began in 2015—the song debuted at No. 6, marking the first time a Meek Mill song has reached the Top 10 on the Hot 100. Drake’s Midas touch was dropping gems all year.

Atlanta rapper Lil Baby had only been putting out music for roughly a year before he was able to get Drake to join his song “Yes Indeed” in May. Before Drake hopped on “Yes Indeed,” the rookie rapper had never gotten close to the Top 50 on the Hot 100, let alone the Top 10. The song reached No. 6 in less than two weeks.

The Drake Effect was even stronger for Memphis rapper BlocBoy JB. After Drake delivered one of the year’s most memorable verses on JB’s hit single “Look Alive,” the song debuted at No. 2 on the charts. It was the first song BlocBoy JB ever had on the Hot 100. Drake took someone whom the vast majority of America had never heard of and in one week made his song one of the two most popular songs in America.

At this point, Drake is Hip Hop’s Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen: If he thinks it, it will become so. That’s what made Drake’s 2018 his best year yet. Unlike any year prior, this year showed that if Drake wanted to, he could be the only thing we hear for most of an entire year.

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