1. Drake just had one of the best streaming weeks of the summer -- with a compilation of songs fans have mostly known for years already. What does the success of Care Package say about Drake, his fanbase and his catalog that detractors or even casual fans might not fully realize?
Eric Frankenberg: It says a lot but a lot that we already knew. Drake has been the undisputed king of streaming for the last five years so it doesn’t shock me that an album of loosies breezed in with a No. 1 debut, especially in the relative dead of August. It also makes sense considering recent top 10 debuts for Drake’s own So Far Gone and Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtapes -- projects that were beloved throughout the last decade and were able to make much-anticipated splashes on the Billboard 200 upon proper releases. But like those much-delayed gifts to diehard fans, I don’t expect Care Package to show the same unstoppable chart longevity as Views and Scorpion (or even More Life), since it lacks anything new blasting onto the Hot 100 to keep it afloat.
Bianca Gracie: We’re all more than aware of Drake’s star power at this point, especially when he broke the Beatles’ record last summer with seven songs in the top 10 at the same time. Even he knows he’s the shit, cementing it with an Abbey Road tattoo on his forearm. The 6 God is truly a deity when it comes to dominating the charts, and he’s grown into more of an unstoppable musical giant. And he did it with a couple of random loosies. Like, who does that?? Fans like myself have remained loyal from the beginning, because we knew his massive catalog had the range to stretch far enough to reach moments like these. Looking back at the opening lyrics of Care Package’s “Dreams Money Can Buy," his success was inevitable.
Carl Lamarre: The Boy can't lose. At 32, his armor is still firm and impenetrable. Records that were once thought to be lost in the underworlds of SoundCloud and Reddit powered him to his 9th No. 1 album, trumping that week's new releases. That feat teeters along the lines of incredible and disrespectful. He has the Midas Touch, and he knows it; remember https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHYG2crLab4? Drake understands he can't lose and at this point, is jogging backwards on the competition in pursuit of that elusive GOAT title.
Jason Lipshutz: Remember how rock legends -- your Beatles, your Dylans, your Stones -- all inevitably received compilations of their respective B-sides and more obscure material? Care Package is that, for the streaming age. As one of the defining artists of the decade, Drake has the type of catalog in which “lost” tracks (i.e. hard-to-stream releases) are going to generate enough interest to buoy a full album -- and, on the right type of sleepy release week, guide that album to No. 1.
Andrew Unterberger: I think the sheer volume of Drake's catalog sometimes gets overlooked. This is a guy who's released about an average of a full-length project a year all decade (several of which have spilled into double-album territory in length), as well as countless feature appearances, remixes and one-off singles. And not only does he still have enough unreleased material to cull together a full compilation's worth -- one in-demand enough to top the Billboard 200 on release -- but there are still enough songs he left off the set for fans to complain about snubs. That's production.
2. We're all old enough to remember the days when official compilation releases were still important, occasionally essential parts of our favorite artists' catalogues. Is there anything that hitmakers from the 2010s can learn from the strategy behind Care Package that might lead to a revival of interest in such compilations in the future, or is it a largely unrepeatable anomaly?
Eric Frankenberg: I don’t think just anyone with a couple Hot 100 hits could manage a No. 1 album of scrapped songs. But giving your fans something extra to grab onto, especially when it feels like a look inside the creative process, can’t hurt. More broadly, Drake’s mid-era release is another in a line of this generation’s biggest superstars tiding fans over between “official” albums. Lady Gaga’s A Star is Born soundtrack was a bigger hit than either of her two previous studio LPs and while it’s been years since Lemonade and DAMN., Beyoncé and Kendrick have both curated soundtrack-adjacent projects for blockbuster films (not to mention Everything is Love and Homecoming) to tremendous results. Moreover, Ed Sheeran’s passion project collaborations album is sitting directly behind Care Package on this week’s Billboard 200 after debuting at No. 1 last month. If anything, it’s the era of the chart-topping side-release.
Bianca Gracie: I’d just hope that Care Package inspires more artists to release easily accessed compilations of their rarities, because it’s honestly quite annoying when you have to thread your own playlist that’s ripped from YouTube, Soundcloud or even Zippyshare. Having your favorite selections in one place just eases that headache. I highly doubt it will cause a cultural shake-up as hard as Drake’s own, but I think the fan service should be the most important part.
Carl Lamarre: That's a tall order to ask, being that Care Package was more than just a compilation project for Drake; it was a chess move. Everything is strategical with him: Back in February, he knitted together So Far Gone for streaming services in time for the mixtape's 10th anniversary and then, earlier this month, pulled at our heartstrings again by allowing Care Package to fall out of the sky the weekend of OVO Fest. Anybody can drop a compilation project, but what bolsters its success is the rollout and strategy behind it.
Jason Lipshutz: The main reason why Care Package is effective is due to the timing of Drake’s ascendance: he started in the pre-streaming age, now he’s here. Because he blew up in an era where it wasn’t immediately expected for an artist to issue their entire catalog on streaming platforms, he was able to mine the non-album songs that had never made it onto his Spotify page for Care Package. It’d be possible for other pre-streaming artists to do the same, but Drake was the perfect case study for something like this, so Care Package will remain an exception based upon circumstance.
Andrew Unterberger: I do think there's something to be said for artists kinda taking stock of what material they have that's floating around the Internet in various forms that they could get a decent amount of attention (and potentially millions of streams) just by collecting in one accessible place. It doesn't even have to be entirely new to streaming services, either -- I think if you're an artist with a sizeable fanbase, you could probably get away with collecting your Spotify loosies with some other songs from YouTube and SoundCloud, throwing in a totally unreleased track or two, and calling it a new compilation. And perhaps most importantly, follow Drake's lead and don't overhype it: Release the news a day early, make a quick statement about it, and let your fans take care of building buzz from there.
3. Speaking of: Which other major artist should be next to release a compilation of catalog odds and ends to streaming services?
Eric Frankeberg: I’d be interested to hear the songs, and pieces of songs, that never saw the light of day for some of our more elusive chanteuses. What did D’Angelo do between 2000 and 2014? What scraps has Ms. Lauryn Hill thrown away this century? And while this is more So Far Gone than Care Package, I want to properly stream Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra and Endless.
Bianca Gracie: I’d love to see Jay-Z release a compilation next. That would be extra special because he’s notoriously loyal to Tidal, and a lot of his fan favorites and unreleased joints aren’t available on other streaming services. He could even toss in beloved freestyles in there, like 2006’s “Grammy Family.” Another artists that I would kill for a compilation is Lana Del Rey. She has a crap ton of unreleased gems from her early Lizzy Grant days up until now, many of which are incredibly hard to find the originals that aren't distorted on YouTube. The amount of music she’s recorded is impressive, and that would definitely make us fans go wild.
Carl Lamarre: I'm gonna go with Kanye. Can you imagine if he brought his G.O.O.D. Friday tracks to streaming services? "Christian Dior Denim Flow"? "Christmas in Harlem"? Nostalgia, if tackled correctly, wins every time. For someone who is in dire need of a W, Ye's decision to tap back into that batch would do him some good on the music front.
Jason Lipshutz: The next logical artist to do this is Kanye West, right? Think of the possibilities, between some of the pre-College Dropout early recordings and all the ‘G.O.O.D. Friday’ tracks that still are off streaming services. Whichever move lets me add “Christian Dior Denim Flow” to all of my favorite playlists is a move I support.
Andrew Unterberger: I'll co-sign Frank Ocean, and also ask for a Taylor Swift rarities set to finally get her two most devestating ballads, "Christmases When You Were Mine" and "Ronan," to wide release. (Proceeds for the latter would go to Stand Up to Cancer, obviously.) Maybe we could get a Spotify version of her "White Blank Page" cover while we're at it? A reference track for "This Is What You Came For"? A full "Super Bass" cover? Let's get nuts.
4. Now that you've had a couple days to properly open Care Package, which song that you'd previously only been casually aware of -- or maybe never even been heard before -- is most connecting with you?
Eric Frankenberg: I was familiar with “5AM in Toronto” when it came out six years ago, but haven’t given it many listens since. The song is the biggest banger from Care Package and the centerpiece of the album. The “Drake featuring Drake” lyric had always defined the song, but now that line feels like it defines the decade in music. Drake was already a star at the top of 2013 but he’s entered the stratosphere since. His influence and general ubiquity since the song’s debut makes a listen in 2019 resonate in a deeper, bigger way.
Bianca Gracie: Nearly all of the songs on Care Package have a dear place in my heart, as they bring me back to unforgettable memories in college. Many are emotional (curse you, “The Motion” and “Days In the East”!), but I think Sad Aubrey would appreciate that. Though there is one that I didn’t pay attention to back then. It’s the opening track I mentioned earlier: “Dreams Money Can Buy.” It originally dropped as a teaser to 2011’s Take Care, and it reminded me of how hungry Drake was to be the best rapper alive. It’s the main reason I became a fan in the first place.
Carl Lamarre: Can I just say "Club Paradise" is probably a top-five Drake record EVER? Now, to answer the question, "How About Now" rings differently today than before, especially when you hear that bit about Ludacris being better than him. I think it hits harder now, just because I feel bad for the girl who doubted him and thought he wouldn't be successful. Now, he's racking up awards like infinity stones and because of that, is towering over his peers.
Jason Lipshutz: I never really paid much attention to “Draft Day” when it was released — call it pro-Embiid, anti-Wiggins bias as a Sixers fan — but as has been covered on this site, it’s now a delightfully dated jam with a Lauryn Hill sample that’s somehow as effective as the one Drake would use years later on “Nice For What.” “Trust Issues”? “Club Paradise”? They were already in heavy rotation on my old, long-dormant iPod. “Draft Day” is the new personal discovery.
Andrew Unterberger: I don't really remember what I thought about "Days in the East" upon its initial 2014 release -- I was probably still too busy jamming to the "We Made It" freestyle from a few months earlier -- but the beat's woozy undertow definitely pulled me under this time around. I'd also completley forgotten about how the beat all but gets dunked underwater midway through, and about the pitched-down Rihanna sample that cuts the song in half. Would love to hear how the conversations about that clearance went.
5. Drake's ninth No. 1 album ties him in sixth place -- with Madonna, Garth Brooks, Bruce Springsteen and Eminem -- among all artists for total Billboard 200 chart-toppers, but still leaves him ten back of The Beatles' current record of 19. Prediction time: Does he break the all-time record, and if so, in what year?
Eric Frankenberg: With Care Package, Drake has had a No. 1 album in eight different years this decade (two in 2015). As much as I’ve underestimated his commercial prowess in the last ten years, that pace has to give way at some point. I think he’ll break the record, but I’ll say 2036 (assuming we, as a society, make it that far).
Bianca Gracie: At the rate he's going, Drake definitely has what it takes to break the record (sorry McCartney & co.). Like he said on Scorpion’s “Nonstop”: “I just flipped a switch / I don't know nobody else that's doing this.” This is going to make me sound like a super fangirl, but whether you want to believe it or not, no one is bum rushing the industry like he is. He’s been good with dropping a project each year, so I give him another 10 to do it. Let’s circle back to this conversation in 2029.
Carl Lamarre: Because of his crazy output over the last few years, I say he finishes with maybe 15-16, making him fall a few short of The Beatles' 19. I can't see Drake doing music forever. He will probably toss his sneakers on the wire and call it a career by 40.
Jason Lipshutz: It’s possible but unlikely. Drake would basically have to stay on top for another decade, based on his current album-release pace, and while he’s certainly been adept at adapting to popular music trends in a way that few other modern artists have been, betting on such historic dominance feels at least a little foolhardy. If he remains a superstar well into the end of the 2020s and surpasses the Beatles’ all-time record, Drake can personally find me and deliver a hard-earned noogie for doubting his power. Until then, I’m taking the under.
Andrew Unterberger: My instinct is to say no -- after all, Drake's been dominant for a full decade and he's not even halfway there yet -- but upon further consideration, I'm not going to underestimate Young Aubrey's determination to scientifically prove that he does indeed have more slaps than The Beatles. (And of course he even got a tattoo to that effect, just so you know it's real.)
Besides, Care Package demonstrates that Drake knows what it takes to really compete with a record like that: You don't get to 19 No. 1s by releasing enormously popular new albums forever, you get to 19 No. 1s by releasing enormously popular new albums for a finite period of time, then repackaging your classic catalogue for decades to come in various ways that keep your fans listening and spending. I'll say Drake nudges ahead in 2041, right after the fourth installment of his Anthology-like Drunk Dials and Missed Connections series is released straight to our cerebral cortexes.