Summer 2015 Is Officially Over, But Be Happy Drake, the Weeknd and Future Kept You Entertained
Today (Sept. 22) marks a moment that millions of people dread: the final day of summer. While most of us hate to see it go, one thing we can take solace in is the improved quality of music we’ve been bombarded with over the past few months. The summer of 2015 was one of the best hip-hop and R&B fans experienced in years due to more than a few momentous occasions that kept us hooked to our phone or on the edge of our tweets.
When Drake said “Summer’s mine, I swear I said it about a hundred times” on “Good Ones Go” off his sophomore LP, Take Care, who would’ve predicted that those words would prove to be prophetic. The rapper has made a habit out of making noise during the warmer months of the year. But 2015 would be the year that Drizzy would truly assert himself and claim the title of rap’s man of the summer with a series of calculated moves straight out the pages of Robert Greene’s highly regarded masterpiece 48 Laws of Power. But before we get into the summer of Drake, there’s a few others who made noise (both good and bad).
The first big domino to fall as far summer rap releases goes is Maybach Music Group’s own Meek Mill with his sophomore LP, Dreams Worth More Than Money. More than a few critics felt Meek hadn’t put forth a project up to par with his promise as an artist and were eager to see if he could up the ante on the follow-up to 2012’s Dreams and Nightmares. Well, the masses got their answer on June 29 when Dreams Worth More Than Money was unleashed and the feedback was favorable.
Meek’s ongoing romance with Nicki Minaj kept the Barbz entertained with every social media post the two shared — they weren’t shy in canoodling everywhere. And speaking of Nicki, despite being six months removed from the release of The Pinkprint album, the first lady of Young Money made plenty of headlines, albeit for unsavory reasons.
Known for being one of the most visually creative artists in music, it was no shock that Nicki would be in the mix for the Video of the Year award at the MTV VMAs. But to the surprise of many, “Anaconda” caught the snub treatment for Video of the Year and was only nominated in the Best Hip-Hop Video and Best Female Video categories. Shortly after the nominations were revealed in July, Nicki addressed the situation going as far as to subtly accuse MTV and other media outlets of showing bias against black women.
Her social media outburst garnered a surprising retort from pop darling Taylor Swift of all people, who took umbrage with the rapper’s comments and felt that they were directed toward her. After a brief back and forth, the two stars decided to let bygones be bygones after Swift apologized, but the exchange made for a great conversation piece. They even showed up together onstage at the VMAs to perform a medley of “The Night Is Still Young” and “Bad Blood.”
Now let’s get back to Meek, who is one of the more popular rap artists on social media. The rapper shocked the hip-hop world when he went on an epic Twitter rant and accused rap titan and collaborator Drake of using a ghostwriter for the verse that appeared on their joint track “R.I.C.O.” Meek’s exact words: “He don’t write his own raps.”
While many were undivided in their assessment of the situation, a few other rap artists, most notably OG Maco, backed up Meek’s claims, naming Atlanta artist Quentin Miller as the clandestine collaborate behind Drake’s rhymes and flows. The rap world waited on pins and needles for Drake to respond, but patience wouldn’t be necessary. Drizzy unleashed the initial diss track “Charged Up” on his OVO Sound radio show on Apple Music’s Beats 1, sending subliminal jabs Meek’s way before dropping another scathing diss, “Back to Back.”
Meek would eventually clap back with a diss record of his own, “Wanna Know,” but it was too little too late. Meek Mill became the joke of the summer, ridiculed to no end. It’s highly ironic that while Meek’s approval rating in the eyes of the public took a sharp nose dive, many of the artists that made guest appearances on the album ended up being some of the biggest winners of the summer of 2015 — namely Future (“Jump Out the Face”) and the Weeknd (“Pullin’ Up”)
Atlanta trap evangelist Future, who managed to build an extremely loyal following (known as the Future Hive) off of three free mixtapes and has a knack for keeping his records in the clubs, released his third studio album, DS2, in July, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts — the first chart-topper of his career. Future moved 151,000 units in the first week of his album release, an impressive feat from the 53,000 his previous effort, Pluto, earned. DS2 dominated the conversation on social media for much of the summer — people loved it and critics loved to hate it. All of the noise makes it a strong case for being one of the best albums of the year.
In another six degrees of separation moment, the Weeknd was another Meek Mill collaborator who happened to end up in the winners circle — and in a big way at that. The Weeknd stayed low, steering clear of beef and continued to build his already impressive cult following via appearances on the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack and well-received singles such as “The Hills,” “Can’t Feel My Face” and “Often.” His sophomore studio album, Beauty Behind the Madness, was highly anticipated, but the fact he moved 412,000 units in its first week after debuting in August was an eye-opener. Abel Tesfaye had the people in the palm of his hand, garnering one of the major moments of the summer with a No. 1 LP.
Despite having seen better times as a genre, R&B was very much prevalent this summer, with releases from Jill Scott (Woman) and Tyrese (Black Rose) also making major noise of their own. With more than four years having passed since the release of her last studio album, The Light of the Sun, Scott’s Woman was considered a hot release in July and was sure to have a favorable reception. That notion proved to be true when the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, selling 133,000 units in its first week. Scott, one of this generation’s greatest vocalists, reached yet another milestone in her illustrious career.
When it comes to Tyrese, most people may be more familiar with his work as an actor in the Fast & Furious franchise and gloss over the fact that his first foray into entertainment was through music. But with an extremely successful acting career occupying his time, Tyrese decided to call it quits, announcing that his sixth studio album, Black Rose, would be his last. While the news of a new album was bittersweet given the circumstances, Tyrese’s exit from the music game was a graceful one, with Black Rose debuting at No. 1 on the charts. This was the singer’s first album to do so and a remarkable way to go out with a bang.
The summer of 2015 also had its share of somber moments, the first of which was the untimely passing of Bobbi Kristina, daughter to deceased R&B legend Whitney Houston and former New Edition member Bobby Brown. Hip-hop also felt major losses, most notably the death of Brooklyn rapper Sean Price. His sudden passing at 43 rocked the hip-hop community to its core. Kool DJ AJ is another hip-hop pioneer that passed. Known as the DJ and longtime collaborator of rap legend Kool G Rap, he was a beloved figure in his own right.
Overall, the season was solid and may go down in the books as one of the best ever. From indelible moments like Ghostface Killah’s gentle threats directed toward Action Bronson via video or Nicki giving Miley Cyrus the business live on TV for the world to see at the VMAs, there was certainly big moments to keep you entertained. Summer 2015 certified the hype around Future being more fact than fiction, crowned a new crossover pop star in the Weeknd and solidified Drake’s dominance over the rap landscape. We wonder what madness will happen next year.
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