We need to talk.
So this morning, I was sipping on my coffee and living my life like it’s golden, when I saw some really aggressive tweets on my Twitter timeline. Never one to neglect the tea, what I saw absolutely shocked me. Right there, in black and white on Slate’s Twitter feed, contained an article with the headline “Why Drake’s VIEWS is 2016’s Purple Rain“.
The five minutes that followed were a daze of rage, irritation, disappointment, and dumbfounded-ness, mixed in with a good workout of my Twitter fingers. After getting over the initial shock of the title, I decided to go ahead and read the actual article, because I refused to believe that a magazine as respected as Slate would publish something so boldly and unbelievably inaccurate. To summarize, the article refers to Drake’s current chart success with his latest album, VIEWS, and compares it to that of Prince’s 1984 album, Purple Rain. Does writer, Chris Molanphy go ahead and say that VIEWS is artistically comparable to Purple Rain? No. What he does, (and I believe marginally well), is describe the effects of streaming on Billboard’s music charts, and how Drake’s album has basically made it next to impossible to be dethroned from the top spot. It’s a well researched piece, and while I may hesitate to compare the sales of Purple Rain to VIEWS simply because of today’s consumer market, I see Molanphy’s points. Now let me tell you why I’m not here for it.
I don’t want to go any further without saying that I don’t take issue with Drake, his artistry, or his album. VIEWS is an absolute BOP, and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t bump at least one song from it. What I will say, is that as a writer, I get the need for creating catchy and attention grabbing titles for your work. In an age where our attention spans are strewn about in a billion different directions, it’s easy for our work to fall over to the wayside. With Prince’s tragic passing in April, and the various controversies that have arisen as a result, I even understand the allure of wanting to use his name in order to generate website hits. However, I can’t help but feel as though using Prince’s name as clickbait was a cheap move on Slate’s part. Purple Rain is easily one of the greatest albums of the 20th century, and has had a sort of renaissance in the wake of Prince’s death, with its visibility being arguably at its highest since it’s 1984 release. However, what’s more important is that there is a wide emotional connection to the artist himself, that is at a raw and very vulnerable place for his fans, and his loved ones. Frankly, people are still in mourning. Objectively using that vulnerability to garner views, (no pun intended) is not only disrespectful to Prince’s legacy, but in my opinion, detrimental to Slate’s own product, regardless of how well researched and articulate the article was. I also can’t help but feel like if Prince were still alive, that this article would have a very different title. Let’s face it, Prince pulled no punches when it came to comparisons to his work, and wasn’t afraid to shade the girls if he felt slighted in any way. This article’s title is opportunistic at best, and at worst, just a blatant slap in the face to Prince, Drake, and both of their fanbases.
Simply put, with all due respect Slate, you tried it, and know you wrong.
UPDATE: Since the posting of this article, Slate changed the name of the article to “The Summer of Drake”. However, I held on to my screenshot of the original tweet.