On June 1, 2014 Drake released ?0 to 100/The Catch Up? on SoundCloud. A song this good, this?perfect, belonged on an album. Instead, he casually leaked it on his OVO blog. We?d rarely heard from him since the release of Nothing Was the Same nine months prior. At the time, Drake had the juice. Any chance to hear the self-titled ?boy? on wax, whether it be a featured verse or simply, a SoundCloud loosie, was appointment viewing. He had such a stranglehold on the rap game that you felt for his peers. What were they to do? Sure, it helped that Kendrick, easily his biggest threat, decided to take almost two years off following his critically acclaimed debut. Still, it was impossible to discredit Drizzy. He was riding his own wave.
While ?0 to 100? was a certified banger, the back-half ?The Catch Up? was Drake?s latest meditation over 40?s atmospheric production. As he reflected over his newfound position as hip-hop?s King, he teased his follow-up to NWTS
?We already got spring 2015 poppin?/PND droppin?, Reps-up P droppin?/Majid Jordan droppin/OB droppin?/not to mention me droppin?
Did he just announce the release date for his fourth album? Spring 2015? Book it. In mid-July, the proclamation on ?The Catch Up? came to fruition when Billboard broke news that Drake had announced the title of his fourth studio album ? Views from the Six. Months went by without any sign of Drake. Before his birthday that October, he released three songs ? ?How Bout Now?, ?6 God?, and ?Heat of the Moment? ? fueling rumors about his upcoming album. Around Thanksgiving, Toronto Raptors Demar Derozan added a new wrinkle when he claimed to possess ?a Drake mixtape that was coming out in January.? Mixtape? Huh?
After months of pacing the sidelines, on February 13, 2015 Drake released a short film titled ?Jungle? featuring snippets of unreleased music. By midnight, he surprise-dropped a mixtape titled If You?re Reading This It?s Too Late. The mixtape was met by overwhelmingly favorable reviews. It sold 500k copies in its first week, before going Platinum shortly after. More impressively, the mixtape was comprised of 17 songs that, at one point, all appeared on Billboard?s 50-song Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart simultaneously. For a mixtape, it did quite well. With hindsight, it?s easy to wonder ? Was this Views from the Six?
1. Compared to Drake?s Album Roll-Outs
Drake announced Take Care one year before its release, Nothing Was the Same, seven months before its release, and Views?one year-and-nine months before its release. More importantly, though, the Views from the Six announcement came in July 2014, ten months after the release of NWTS, and seven months before he would drop IYRTITL. The timeline, in of itself, sheds light on Drake?s intentions with IYRTITL. For a rapper who, at the time, was at his absolute Apex, as well as one who?s showcased a masterful skill in timing, why would he announce an album, then spend seven months recording a mixtape, knowing full well that said album would be put on the back-burner for a long period of time? Further, he was aware enough to know that his fourth-album ? coming at a time when he was at the top of the game, more than ever ? would be under the microscope as never before.
Logically, you can say that he wanted to put out music before recording his fourth album. But it?s not like this was WATTBA, a mixtape that?s claimed to be recorded in two-weeks time. As far as we know, IYRTITL was analyzed with a fine-tooth comb. Drake is one who prides himself on legacy. Knowing this, it?s unreasonable to believe that he would spend seven months (following the album which coincided with his career peak) recording a ?mixtape?, knowing that said project could be tossed aside as nothing more than the appetizer for his forthcoming album, only putting more pressure on himself.
2. The Mixtape?s Cohesive Theme Aligns With Views from the Six
Shortly after Billboard broke news on Drake?s forthcoming album title, they made sure to clarify that the ?6? was a reference to Toronto. When he initially announced the title (In July 2014, seven months before IYRTITL) Drake stated his intention for the album to serve as a soundtrack to his hometown. What better way to represent the ?6? than with the following: three tracks referencing Toronto?s area code (?6 God?, ?6 Man?, ?You and the 6?), the de-facto anthem of Drake?s career, as well as his city?s (?Know Yourself? i.e. ?Runnin? through the six with my woes!?), along with encapsulating the wintery, icy vibe that?s omnipresent throughout the tape.
3. Escape From Cash Money
In December 2014, two months before IYRTITL, Lil? Wayne ignited his on-going fued with Birdman. This is purely speculative, but what if this was Views From the 6, but in a fit of spitefulness toward Birman, combined with loyalty toward Wayne, Drake wanted to make sure this project wasn?t just a surprise to us, but a surprise to Cash Money too? What if that title is aimed at Birdman specifically? By the time Birdman saw that an album was out and read its title, it was already too late to try to keep Drake at Cash Money any longer.
4. Timeline Leading Up to Views
Two months after announcing the album?s title, a track titled ?Views From the Six? leaked. In April 2015, two months after IYRTITL, in a profile for the fashion blog Four Pins, Drake reveals that he only has two songs finished for Views that he likes: ?a collaboration with Beyonc that he recorded a while ago? and ?a song that he expects to inspire a paradigm shift.? Consider: he has two songs recorded for an album that he announced almost one year prior. After spending the following summer engulfed in the Meek Mill beef, while riding on the success of ?Back to Back? and ?Hotline Bling?, Drake doesn?t provide any further detail regarding the album.
Not until March does he tease the release date with an Instagram caption titled ?APRIL.? One month later, he reveals the release date (April 29), before the cover-art and track-list only coming five and two days before the release. Less than two full days ahead of its worldwide release, and less than 24 hours preceding its premiere on Drake?s OVOSOUND Radio show on Apple Music?s Beats 1 channel, we find out that Views from the 6 has been shortened to simply VIEWS. Why the change, especially so close to its release? Simply, it was rushed, in a way that none of Drake?s previous albums were. Which begs the question ? why rush something, at such a pivotal point in your career? Because he had backed himself into a corner, forced to release the long-awaited Views, when in fact, the album he had truly intended it to be had already come one year prior, in the mold of IYRTITL.