For his latest album, Drake had his fans waiting for almost a year. For his most recent, the wait was around six hours.
“Honestly, Nevermind,” Drake’s seventh studio album, hit streaming services at midnight Friday, having been officially announced hours earlier on Drake’s social media accounts. With 14 tracks, it’s a relatively short collection for the superstar rapper-singer. (“Certified Lover Boy,” which came out last September, had 21 songs.)
The producers of the new album include longtime collaborators like Noah Shebib (known as 40), Oliver El-Khatib (who is also one of Drake’s managers) and Noel Cadastre, as well as Black Coffee, a South African DJ who came from the underground and in recent years has worked with stars like David Guetta and Usher.
In a note attached to the album on Apple Music, Drake said “Honestly, Nevermind” was dedicated to Virgil Abloh, the influential fashion designer who had a long association with Kanye West, and died last year at 41. years from cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
Fans had been expecting something new from Drake since at least March, when he job a photo of him in a recording studio. On the contrary, “Certified Lover Boy” had been buzzing for nearly a year. Drake’s announcement for “Honestly, Nevermind” came just hours after Beyoncé – the undisputed champion of surprise album releases – made her own statement, uncharacteristically giving a six-week warning for her upcoming release, “Renaissance”, which will be his first solo studio album since “Lemonade” in 2016.
“Honestly, Nevermind” comes as the rapper has taken more control over his career. Last month, Universal Music Group announced that it had signed a sweeping deal with Drake covering recordings, music publishing and other businesses like merchandise and visual projects. Terms were not disclosed, but its value was estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.
Drake dominates the streaming market. Even though Spotify lists him as its eighth most popular artist in the world – Puerto Rican star Bad Bunny leads the way – his catalog, with hits like “One Dance”, “God’s Plan” and “Hotline Bling”, represents some of the most popular music in the format. According to an analysis by Billboard, last year Drake’s catalog surpassed all music released before 1980.
For years, Drake released music through a complex contractual structure that gave ownership of his work to other Universal-affiliated labels. Since “Certified Lover Boy”, his albums have come with a copyright notice stating that the recordings belong to his company, October’s Very Own, and are licensed to Universal, which releases them through its Republic label. This arrangement usually gives much more control – and a much bigger share of the revenue – to the artist, and is also used by major artists like Adele, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.