Drake would like you to remember that he is a Scorpio. He takes this very seriously. Born October 24, Aubrey Graham named his record label OVO Sound, which stands for October’s Very Own. His new album will be called Scorpion. Never one for doing things halfway, he is nonetheless embracing Scorpio’s penchant for mystery with a very 2017 statement maker: billboards which may be hinting that Scorpion is going to be a double release.
Billboard has the details on the uh, billboards, that have been spotted around Toronto and Times Square in New York City. They are plastered with cryptic Drake-isms such as, “Don’t hit me when you hear this” and, “Elevate / I just flipped a switch.” One billboard in particular, reading “A Side B Side,” is igniting speculation that Scorpion is going to be a double release, possibly even immediately available on vinyl format on its drop date. The reference to A/B sides is commonly used to denote sides of a vinyl LP, and the letters are often etched into the record’s non-grooved center so listeners can see which side of the album they are holding.
Why would Drake release a double album? He never done this before, and his last album, Views From the 6, was released in 2016. Since then, he’s also released a mixtape and an EP. With his constant output, does Drake really have a surplus of quality, album-ready material?
The question of quality is a dualistic one. Beyoncé released a double album (I Am… Sasha Fierce) but as of late she appears to be opting for visual accompaniments over more tracks. Similarly, Kanye West’s latest album Ye is only 23 minutes long, while his protege Pusha T’s DAYTONA clocks in at just over 21 minutes. West and Pusha T are both on West’s G.O.O.D. Music label; their labelmate Teyana Taylor also released a short record: K.T.S.E., at 22 minutes. The advantages of a short album are obvious: it can be completed and released quicker, with fans being able to listen on-the-go without scrolling through boring filler tracks.
While West is promoting the shorter album format, double releases aren’t uncommon these days either. Notably, Migos’ Culture II, which came out earlier this year in January, is a behemoth at over 100 minutes long. Culture writer Craig Jenkins called it a “data dump” and “about as long as Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs” in a review for Vulture. He also points out an irrefutable, if cynical fact: the longer the album, the longer fans will listen to on streaming services. And now that the Billboard charts count streaming plays, the system can effectively be hacked to produce a #1 album. The more streams, the higher the chart placement, as we saw with Migos’ Culture II. It’s a simple equation.
This points to a concerted effort on Drake’s part to hit that number one spot. As one of the biggest stars in the world, it’s hardly conceivable that he wouldn’t hit that mark, especially given that its June 29 release date doesn’t conflict with any other music stars of his fame level. So why the effort to churn out a double release, if he’s already assured a number one debut? It’s tough to say. But it may indicate some worry from the Drake camp. His beef with Pusha T, in which he is widely seen as the loser, certainly doesn’t help matters.
We admit that we feel some skepticism about Drake’s attempt at profilicism. It seems like a macho ploy to chart at number one, and thus, cement his status as...something. Perhaps he sees an opening where West once reigned, felled by a poorly-received album and distasteful public statements. Drake’s own fans joke about his lack of varied subject matter; one Twitter user made a bingo card for Scorpion lyrics. The bingo card is certainly right about one thing: double release or not, Drake is almost certain to reference at least one additional unreleased Pusha T diss track. Maybe Aubrey Graham truly is a font of creative abundance.