Drake is Lebron James of the Game: In the Good Way and the Bad Way
“I can relate to kids going straight to the league
When they recognize that you got what it takes to succeed
And that’s around the time that your idols become your rivals
You make friends with Mike but got to A.I. him for your survival
Damn, I swear sports and music are so synonymous
Cause we want to be them, and they want to be us”
-Drake “Thank Me Now”
The basketball player/rapper analogy has become quite commonplace. The relation between the athlete from the underprivileged neighborhood and the street poet is easy to understand. Unique skills allow them to rise above their disadvantaged status to wealth and fame. Most would consider the current gold standard for rappers and hoopers would have to be Drake and Lebron. While Drake has dominated the charts when it comes to rap, Lebron has been in the NBA Finals 5 years in a row. While both share a dominance over the competition in their field, their careers actually have a lot more in common than just relative dominance.
When asking who’s the hottest artist in the field of rap, Drake would be the likely answer for most. While others may get more critical acclaim, when it comes to sales and charts, Drake is the clearly at the top. His most recent project, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late outsold J. Cole’s 2014 Forrest Hills Drive and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly 535k to 354k and 324k respectively. That in itself would be an accomplishment for most, for Drake it was an afterthought. What made it more of an accomplishment is Drake’s If You’re Reading This was released without any pre-release build up…no release date, no lead single, and the release was digital only. While J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar’s latest releases were announced on short notice, both of which had release dates at least a month prior to release, pre-release singles and digital and physical copies. While artists like Eminem and Jay-Z may have larger first week sales numbers, they’re more Tim Duncan to Drake’s Lebron. Yet and still, Drake has already passed Jay-Z as the rapper with the most #1 songs on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop songs charts, and he did that in a little over three years. Drake’s quick rise to the top has been amazing to say the least.
Part of what makes Lebron special is his fabled ability to make his teammates better. Just last year, Lebron found himself in the NBA Finals with a Cleveland Cavaliers team heavily reliant on JR Smith and Iman Shumpert, two players who helped the New York Knicks reach a 37 win season and miss the playoffs in the lowly Eastern Conference the year prior. It was Lebron James who carried a Cleveland Cavaliers squad in 2007 to the NBA Finals with the likes of Larry Hughes and Sasha Pavlovic by his side in the starting lineup. A Drake co-sign is the musical equivalent of playing with Lebron James. When Drake laced Migos’ “Versace” people cut his verse out and played the song sans Migos at fashion shows. Ask yourself this, had Drake not been featured on Future’s “Tony Montana” would we have a #Futurehive? Drake brought us The Weeknd and PartyNextDoor. Let’s not forget the times Drake has done features with artist who have already built somewhat of a buzz for themselves. Then we get songs like “Amen” with Meek Mill, “Poetic Justice” with Kendrick Lamar, “In The Morning” with J.Cole, “Fuckin Problems” with A$AP Rocky, or “No Lie” with 2 Chainz. When Drake teams up with certified stars like Eminem, Weezy and Yeezy, you get “Forever,” which was damn near unbeatable like ‘Bron, Wade, Bosh, and Ray Allen.
While MOST would agree Lebron is the top dog and among the all-time greats, not everyone is a member of the Lebron James fan club. Among the constantly critical is none other than Michael Jordan himself. While some may view Jordan’s constant criticism aimed at two-time champ Lebron as jealousy, He’s never been hesitant to give props to five-time champion Kobe Bryant. Jordan isn’t the only legend to prefer Bryant over James, Larry Bird has also shown a preference toward Kobe. For one reason or another, there tends to be a disconnect between a lot of the older crowd and Lebron. Drake has a history of similar issues. Whether it be his choice to release a song titled “Wu-Tang Forever” or his failure to release the Wu-Tang featured remix, Drake has found himself on the wrong side of Wu-Tang Clan more than once. When not being critiqued by elder statesmen like Common (who, by the way, never went at Jay Electronica for dating Erykah), he’s just not the preference when compared to other members of his class like Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole.
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