As Black Music Month makes its way to the monthly midpoint, African Americans are more likely than the total market to have a paid subscription to an online music streaming service says Nielsen. More directly, blacks make up 5.9 percent of services such as Pandora One and Spotify Premium. With music available on various types of devices music is more accessible than ever. PC laptops are the second-most popular device with blacks after radio with 31 percent while Android operated phones make up 27 percent, 26 percent for PC desktop and iPad rounding out at 9 percent.
While Tidal and Spotify battled over streaming supremacy, many wondered how Apple’s acquisition of Beats would figure into the equation. The wait is now over. After months of anticipation, Apple announced its music streaming arm earlier this week and let Drake himself speak about the service. It makes sense when one looks into the key details that streaming is the future of music as the medium grew 54.5 percent last year over 2013. In terms of Hip Hop and R&B, streams for the genre also grew 54 percent. Putting Drizzy at the forefront of Apple Music was the perfect opportunity when those statistics are involved. For our next editorial celebrating Black Music Month, DX looks into five reasons October’s Very Own may be the Hip Hop’s equivalent to the house that Steve Jobs built.
Makes Anything He Touches Look Cool
The Drake effect is an actual thing in which almost everyone he co-signs goes on to fame and fortune in some degree. But Drake goes further than that. He doesn’t just lay the rap-papal hands on you and suddenly your dreams come true. No, he wraps you in the cool sounds of the OVO brand. You never know who he’s watching or what he’s listening to, and then all of a sudden he’s helping whomever he wants transcend their small pond and jump into the wide open mainstream ocean. The jury is still out on Fetty Wap’s “My Way,” that wailing, off-kilter sonic-boom of a proto-love-song, but it’s just as much in contention for song of the summer as any other song out there. His brand is so airtight that he can do these things without even thinking about them. Or, at least appear to, as we’re sure he’s a very calculated human being at this point. Reminds you of a certain California based company, doesn’t it?
Improves An Existing Sound To Its Zenith; Then Refines It
Emcees have been singing on records for as long as there have been vocal cords. Jazz and R&B are forms of black classical music at this point. Their measures are the very foundation of Hip Hop. But when Kanye West dropped his bleary eyed 808s & Heartbreak to WTF’s all over the blogosphere Drake saw an opportunity. Combine that with the introverted Myspace rap that had begun to take a foothold in the late aughts and you had the makings of a bonafide r&b-meets-rap sound. A sound that no one would figure out until Drizzy came along with So Far Gone. Anyone who heard his early and more traditional take on that sound in “Replacement Girl” should have seen it coming. But all-in-your-feelings all the time rap had yet to be really sharpened to knife’s edge. Since then he’s only made incremental changes to the formula. Thank Me Later was a sloppy, industry-glittered mess but it was only the beginning. Take Care would take the sound to one of high art, and Nothing Was The Same would begin to see him infuse it with the sounds of Toronto’s reggae scene. The final Drake 4c iteration came with If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
Treats OVO & His Sound Like A Walled Garden a la The App Store
All the devices Apple’s created lends more to their closed garden idea of doing things. Your iPhone connects to your Macbook, which is synced with iTunes etc. etc. OVO is quite the same idea. PartyNextDoor connects to 40, which is synced with Drake who gives the alleyoop to MAKONNEN, and you suddenly get a group sound that is tightly intertwined. It’s really quite ingenious, and not without precedent. The Motown sound was a similar walled garden of musical taste, almost guaranteeing that if you liked one artist, you would like another. Now, with algorithms all over the web connecting OVO together like a string of pearls, you can easily get sucked into an entire OVO day on Spotify, Pandora or Rdio.
Relies On Eliciting Emotion
Every time Apple announces a new MacBook, iPhone, iPad or OSX update, it’s a spectacle before anything hits stores. By the time that launch time happens, there are mounds of anticipation and hype that seems to never die down. There’s a specific reason why people stand in line for days, facing the elements for Apple’s new devices. Then there’s the user experience itself that’s about maintaining a bridge between technological efficiency and user experience. Considering the popular “text your ex” memes that have become commonplace within the social media sphere, Drake has mastered the art of eliciting emotion. This is what his music does best. Is it possibly corny? Of course, but we’ve all fallen for it without much regard in some manner. This year’s sales race is all in the hands of Drizzy and that’s from a surprise release. What’s going to happen for Views From The 6’s rollout is going to revolve around Apple Music’s “Connect” service can only become even more ridiculous.
Competitive Without Acknowledgment
Apple understands 100 percent that Google is a very serious threat. And, that’s a good thing as the number benefit of any competition between two companies vying for business are consumers. However, Apple has been known to ignore the Android OS maker while subsequently acknowledging their presence. There wasn’t a better example than current CEO Tim Cook said this about Google: “Does a unit of market share matter if it’s not being used?” Cook asked. “For us, it matters that people use our products. We really want to enrich people’s lives, and you can’t enrich somebody’s life if the product is in the drawer.” That isn’t any different than Drizzy’s take on Kendrick Lamar and the “Control” verse that rocked Hip Hop a few years ago. “That verse, he’s giving people moments,” Drake said. “That verse was a moment to talk about. He didn’t come in there on some wild, ‘I’m in New York, f**k everybody.’ I almost wish he had come in there on that shit because I kind of lost a little bit of respect for the sentiment of the verse.” Both Apple and Drake are prime examples of dealing with rivalry, ignore and push forward enough for people not to care much.
Andre Grant is an NYC native turned L.A. transplant that has contributed to a few different properties on the web and is now the Features Editor for HipHopDX. He’s also trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot. Follow him on Twitter @drejones.
Ural Garrett is a Los Angeles-based journalist and HipHopDX’s Senior Features Writer. When not covering music, video games, films and the community at large, he’s in the kitchen baking like Anita. Follow him on Twitter @UralG.