Drake is such a hot artist that one of his albums is selling even though he didn't release it.
An unauthorized album, "The Girls Love Drake," which features selections from the Toronto rapper's mixtape "So Far Gone" and other tracks, was released May 28 by a label called Canadian Money Entertainment and distributed by the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) on iTunes, Rhapsody and Amazon.
Drake's camp, which is still trying to clear the samples on "So Far Gone" and his two other mixtapes in hopes of selling them in stores, says it didn't authorize the release.
If it hadn't been disqualified on the grounds that it wasn't confirmed as being an official album, "The Girls Love Drake" would have debuted this week at No. 101 on the Billboard 200, No. 16 on the Digital Albums chart and No. 1 on the Heatseekers tally. "Best I Ever Had" and "Every Girl" (credited to Young Money), two tracks on the mixtape that have previously charted, appear on this week's Hot Digital Songs chart thanks to downloads of "The Girls Love Drake." Additionally, "Best I Ever Had" jumps 60-18 on the Billboard 200, while "Every Girl" leaps 75-35, although chart experts predict they will both drop again once the unofficial album is no longer available.
After finding the album on iTunes, Drake's management sent a cease-and-desist notice to the retailer, which has since removed it. At press time, the album was still available on Rhapsody and Amazon, although Drake's manager Al Branch says he's having it removed from those retailers as well.
"This is a straight bootleg, a scandal. We are behind promoting records at radio, but haven't sold it," Al Branch, Drake's manager, tells Billboard.com. "iTunes position is that they are a store and they stock everything. They have a waiver and as long as people sign it and are responsible for the product they submit, then they go for it."
Branch also says that Drake plans to file a lawsuit against Canadian Money Entertainment, which he says isn't in connection with Drake or Young Money, the Lil Wayne-owned label that Drake is affiliated with. Drake is currently the subject of a major label bidding war and is close to signing with Universal Motown.
Peter Greenwood, the founder of Canadian Money Entertainment, says the company has been releasing mixtapes for unsigned artists since 2003 and their purposes in releasing "The Girls Love Drake" was never ill-intended. "'The Girls Love Drake' was just a combination of new and old songs that we had been promoting on the underground scene for the last six months and so we wanted to get more exposure for it on the net," he says. "Breaking him in the states along with other Toronto artists has always been our goal. Drake is our hometown hero."
Branch is concerned that Young Money or October's Own, Drake's label, could be sued since the samples on the mixtapes, which include beats on albums by David Banner, Goapele and Colun Munroe, haven't been cleared. But Greenwood says that he was unaware of the legalities of selling a mixtape on iTunes. "There were tracks produced for other artists that Drake rapped over that were not cleared. While some songs were original, this was meant to be an underground project and not a major release," he says. "We tried to get the project out through a new platform on the digital level, but we were stopped before we could get started because mixtapes are not allowed on that level."
Moving forward, Greenwood says he will continue to promote his mixtapes the traditional, offline route, and if a lawsuit does indeed come his way he plans to deal with it head on.