Drake Signing Sparks Skirmish At Universal
There's a glitch in the Universal matrix and it involves Drake.
Earlier this summer, Billboard.com reported that while sources predicted the Toronto-raised rapper was likely to sign with Universal Motown, 22-year-old Drake inked a deal directly with Aspire, a company co-run by his manager, Cortez Bryant, with distribution through another Universal label -- Universal Republic -- through Young Money/Cash Money.
But now it seems there has been a shift of sorts, as reps at Motown are requesting all Drake Billboard chart entries be credited to Motown and not Republic moving forward -- a change that will be reflected in this week's charts.
"I went through Universal Republic because I don't fuck with Motown, at all," Drake says in the latest issue of Fader magazine, further confirming his signing to Republic. He further expresses his dislike for Motown, specifically president Sylvia Rhone, on a track titled "Say What's Real" off his "So Far Gone" mixtape, rapping "I've always been something that these labels can't buy / especially if they trying to take a piece of my soul / and Sylvia be telling 'Tez, 'Damn, Drake fly' / and he just be like, 'silly motherfucker, I know."
A source close to Drake says the rapper is signed to Republic, but that Motown will distribute the album, alleging that Motown -- specifically Rhone -- wants to take "credit for anything involving Drake."
But a source at Universal says it seems as if Drake's deal with Republic was never finalized before Drake and his camp started confirming it to the media, and that the move to Motown was made last minute. Although the source claims to not know what prompted the move, he/she suggests it may be that due to contractual reasons, Motown gets first dibs on any artist signed to Young Money and Cash Money regardless of the artist's preference.
The same source says Drake's dislike of Rhone stems from an encounter between the two about three years ago. Apparently, before linking with mentor and Young Money labelhead Lil Wayne, Drake had taken a trip to Motown's New York headquarters to audition for Rhone in hopes of getting signed, but Rhone opted to pass on him at the time.
Regardless of all the confusion regarding his label, Drake's popularity continues to surge. Last week he debuted with "I'm Going In" at No 93 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and this week he enters at No. 100 with "November 18th," off his famed mixtape, "So Far Gone." "Best I Ever Had," also off the mixtape, is currently at No. 2 on the same chart, while the Young Money collective "Every Girl" sits at No. 5 this week.
Drake's debut album, "Thank Me Later," is slated to be released later this year.