With no album or mixtape out in 2012, Drake still managed to pull into the #5 spot on MTV News’ Hottest MC in the Game list, in a unanimous vote from the roundtable. And that alone says a lot about the YMCMB rapper’s star power.
Drake dropped his sophomore album, Take Care, at the end of 2011, giving himself room to release a steady stream of eye-catching visuals over the past 12 months. But even before that, he got off to a running start with a controversial verse on Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin’,” sparking a brief beef with Common. That heat carried into the spring, when Drizzy recruited an all-star team to join his Club Paradise Tour.
As MTV News’ Senior Hip-Hop Writer Rob Markman said, Drake dominated rap features all year long, and that was underscored when you realized that every artist on his lineup had at least one big collab to perform with him on the cross-country jaunt. “He strategically had features with people he was going on tour with — so it was Waka with ’Round of Applause,’ 2 Chainz with ’No Lie,’ A$AP with ’F—in’ Problems’ and Kendrick with ’Poetic Justice,’ ” Markman explained. “Anything he touches is a guaranteed smash.”
Yet as big as the Club Paradise Tour was, the Toronto native still went all-out for his OVO Fest, bringing Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj and 2 Chainz to his hometown to rock the crowd in August. A few weeks later, he helped to close out Jay-Z’s first annual Made in America Festival with a bang.
Selected Mixtapes: N/A
Singles: “Take Care,” “HYFR”
Street Bangers: N/A
Key Guest Appearances: 2 Chainz’s “No Lie”; with A$AP Rocky’s “F—in’ Problems” (featuring Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz); Rick Ross’ “Stay Schemin’ ” (featuring French Montana); Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice”; French Montana’s “Pop That” (featuring Rick Ross, Lil Wayne)
Meteoric Metrics: By the end of 2012, Take Care had clocked in over 1.9 million in album sales and scored three 2013 Grammy nominations for as many singles, while his Club Paradise run was the #7 top-grossing tour of 2012 with $42 million worldwide.
Business Ventures: The Toronto rapper officially signed his OVO imprint to Warner Bros. Records.
Tours: Club Paradise Tour (with 2 Chainz, J. Cole, Waka Flocka Flame, French Montana, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar and several guests)
Monumental Moment: Winning his first Grammy for Best Rap Album with Take Care
Forecast: With “Started From the Bottom” spawning a multitude of remixes within days of its release, Drake’s upcoming third album, Nothing Was the Same, won’t be short on hits.
Apart from impacting with songs like “HYFR,” Drake’s hooks and verses for other artists, including the #1 rap singles “No Lie,” reverberated during a year when Y.O.L.O. was still running its course. “Drake’s at the point where his lyrics become people’s mantras,” said Renaud Jean-Baptiste, story producer for MTV2’s “The Week in Jams.” “He just steers the direction of the culture — lyrically and style-wise.”
Drake even breathed new life into music videos, getting artsy for the much-anticipated “Take Care” clip featuring Rihanna, while having a grand ol’ time in “HYFR,” which picked up an MTV Video Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Video.
Late in the year, he made a major power move, signing his OVO Records imprint to Warner Bros. By the top of 2013, he had dropped his new single, “Started From the Bottom,” which immediately spawned a multitude of remixes. Top that off with his first "Hottest MCs in the Game VIII" using the hashtag #HottestMC!