Sam Hunt Is Country Drake: Here Are Eight Reasons Why
Sam Hunt released an official first single from his long-awaited forthcoming sophomore album Thursday, the relentlessly poppy, serotonin-drenched earworm “Body Like a Back Road.” It's a crossover-ready track that may have country fans screaming, "That isn't country," but that's nothing new for the Georgia native.
Earlier this month, Hunt released “Drinkin’ Too Much,” which sounded more like a drunk voicemail than a single. The SoundCloud post late New Year's Eve night was a thirst trap straight out of Drake's playbook; as if that weren’t enough, a couple days later he announced his engagement to Hannah Lee Fowler, his longtime on-and-off flame.
Back when Hunt released his debut album Montevallo in 2014, ahead-of-the-curve observers pointed out similarities between the country singer and that certain sensitive, Canadian rapper. Hunt's sing-talk vocal style was the first connection between the two artists, with his interest in hip-hop, less-than-country aesthetic and distinctly un-bro sensitivity sealing the deal.
With a new album on the way, though, is Sam still the Drake-iest star in country? Here are a few pieces of evidence that, to quote Drake himself, can only mean one thing: yes.
“Drinkin’ Too Much” is “Marvin’s Room,” the sequel: “Drinkin’ Too Much” may sound like a voicemail, but “Marvin’s Room” actually includes clips from a real phone call. In both of these songs, our sad male protagonists address former flames over brooding backing tracks. The difference? Hunt got engaged; Drake got sued.
They’ve both outed the identities of ex-flames: Though Hunt calls out Fowler by name in "Drinkin' Too Much," according to the song's lyrics, intrepid Montevallo listeners found the fellow Georgian long ago ("Sorry I named the album Montevallo/ I'm sorry people know your name now, and strangers hit you up on social media," he laments). Drake's called out his fair share of ex-flames, but unwitting "From Time" star "Courtney from Hooters on Peachtree" may be the most infamous, as it didn't take too long for the entire Internet to find her.
Taylor Swift approves of both: Swift is all about her girl "squad," but every now and then she makes exceptions for the occasional dude. She invited Hunt onstage to perform his single "Take Your Time" at a Chicago 1989 World Tour show in 2015, and, well, we've all seen that Drake commercial...
They're big fans of female R&B artists: At this point, there's no need to explain that Drake loves Rihanna and Aaliyah. Rather than buying billboards, Hunt is known for showing his love for his favorite female R&B artists by covering their songs live, once putting together an acoustic medley that includes songs by Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Destiny's Child. He also, notably, has played Rihanna's "We Found Love" in between songs at past shows.
Hunt has covered Drake on multiple occasions: Hunt blended a portion of "Marvin's Room" into his song "Single for the Summer" at performances in 2015, including a stop at The FADER Fort, an unconventional venue for a country artist. He's also taken on Take Care track "Shot for Me." We're still waiting for Drizzy's mash-up of "Take Care" and "Take Your Time."
They love sports: Before pursuing music, Hunt played quarterback at Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, eventually attending training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs. When the NFL didn't pick up what he was putting down, he moved to Nashville to try to make it as a musician. Drake has always had close ties to the sports world, but typically as a fan instead of an athlete. As "global ambassador" for the Toronto Raptors, he gets his own "Drake Night," which he most recently used to piss off the Warriors' Kevin Durant and hit on ESPN's Doris Burke. More like 1-800-Hotline-Brick.
They’re Basquiat fans: Some of Hunt’s earliest promo photos feature the country star wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with what looks a lot like late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat's signature crown. Back in 2015, Drake curated a show for Sotheby's that matched hip-hop songs with paintings by black artists, giving Basquiat's 1986 painting "Black" its own Chief Keef soundtrack.
They know how to make us wait: There’s no title or release date for Hunt’s forthcoming sophomore album yet, and the anticipation surrounding the project reminds us of the speculation around Drake’s Views. Fingers crossed that whenever it does come out, Hunt includes a cover of "Hold On, We're Going Home."