This weekend, Lemonade pandemonium stopped only (very briefly) for one thing: the unveiling of Drake’s album art for Views from the 6. The album's tone and content are still largely a mystery — I pray that he raps more about the size of Kanye’s swimming pool — but at least we now have a visual cue for how he'd like us to imagine him, sky-high and pensive AF.
Perched atop the CN Tower in downtown Toronto, Drizzy oversees his kingdom (and/or everything the light touches) with the body language of someone who realizes too late they suffer from vertigo. It's a masterful addition to the canon of Sad Drake™ memes — timeless images that portray him as a tortured artist and/or human with more feelings than that one character in Mean Girls — and a welcome sequel to the "sitting down having a think" vibe of 2011's Take Care cover.
Aubrey dedicated the Views cover shot, which was shot by photographer Caitlin Cronenberg (daughter of David), "to the city I love and the people in it" (thanks!), and dropped the dates of his upcoming Summer Sixteen tour and OVO Fest. Exciting times!
But I’m not going to pretend I'm not curious about how Drake chose his Viewsing spot. Yes, the CN Tower is North America’s tallest freestanding structure (according to the tour guide I asked on Sunday). Yes, it offers a 6ix God-appropriate perspective. But Toronto has so many cool landmarks! So I’m here to try and better understand Drizzy’s choice by eliminating all of his other possible ones in the city we both love. Come with me on a journey through The 6ix.
If you’re unfamiliar with Fort York, how dare you — it played a prominent role in the War of 1812, and it’s also where music festivals like Field Trip take place. But also, fine: We’ll start small. Or street level. Or, more specifically, slightly below street level (sea level?), since most of us 6ix Gods and Goddesses tend to drive and/or bike over Fort York while en route to whatever important Toronto events we happen to be participating in.
While Drake drops a quick reference to 15 Fort York -- the address of a nearby apartment complex -- in "Know Yourself," I still like to imagine him in various poses surveying the grassy knolls of a historical landmark, leaning nonchalantly on cannons while acknowledging that, like the battles that defined this particular region, he too is making history.
Of course, not enough people know about Fort York for anyone outside of Ontario to be truly moved by this choice of landmark. Plus, if Aubrey has allergies (and who doesn’t?), expressions of sadness would run a serious risk of being replaced by a look of deep-seated regret stemming from his choice to be someplace with so much lawn. Sneezing: Too mortal.
De Grassi Street
Probably the most heartbreaking thing I can tell you right now is that Degrassi as we know it is a lie. The series is shot on a studio lot, and while the original 1980s show featured Toronto’s Centennial College, the current series does not. But! De Grassi Street is real and it is beautiful, so bless us everyone.
Do you know what would be even realer and more beautiful, though? An homage to Jimmy, Drake’s Degrassi character, whom he proudly shouted out on his Views album preview. Drizzy has never shied away from nostalgia (see: "HYFR"), so the image of him in full early-noughties regalia would be the stuff of aesthetic and artistic dreams, especially posing under the street sign the way most of us would if we were in full Snapchattin' tourist mode. (I am the worst. Never travel with me.)
But we also know that a god cannot return to where mere mortals be. We know that if he had really shot his Views cover on De Grassi Street, his friends and associates and probably all of us would be confused and kind of sad at his listicle-esque lust for nostalgia. After all, a clip of Jimmy is one thing -- but few things would be as upsetting as seeing Drake don the clothing and persona of a teenage boy. (Like, more than he does already sometimes.) (#sweatpants)
The Real Jerk
Did you guys know Rihanna’s video for "Work" was shot at a restaurant called The Real Jerk in Toronto? Hm? (You did? OK, cool.)
Ultimately, I’m including this because Canadians are very good at telling everybody how mainstream pop culture is tied to Canada in some way, and that is what I’m doing here. Sadly, there is no way Drake would ever shoot his cover at The Real Jerk, and that is because everybody would think he was either plagiarizing Rihanna or that Views is somehow tied to Anti. And while in a dream world they would be (and in my head they are), no. That’s not how it works. Even though I would like it to. And I am the one person Drake should want to appease.
Oh, I’m sorry — the Rogers Centre (#woof). Drake featured the home of the Toronto Blue Jays, big concerts, and Monster Truck rallies in his video for "Headlines," cementing the CN Tower’s next-door neighbor as a hip and/or cool place — which, circa 2011, was saying something. (Mainly since this was four years before the Jays made the post-season, and tickets for games were going for about $10 a piece on an expensive night.)
But what could Drake have done, really? Hiked to the top of the 500 section, pretending to peer down from the nosebleeds at Canada’s only MLB team? Sat so far up that he could lean against the concrete walls while watching the roof open and close (a gorgeous SkyDome feature), and wonder what brought him to such an embarrassing point in his life? I mean, sure, he could’ve stood at center field, admiring the first post-season banner the Toronto Blue Jays have earned in almost 20 years — but where are the Views in that? Then, the album would have been better called Views from Indoors. And if we wanted those, he could’ve just chosen ...
The Air Canada Centre
First of all, yes: Canadians spell "centre" like British people. (And other ways I’ll weave the War of 1812 in and out of this piece today.)
Second, Aubrey Drake Graham loves the Toronto Raptors. He is their Global Ambassador. He is their friend. Two years ago, he sat courtside, maniacally lint-rolling his pants, and this year, he hosted the All-Star Game (and wore a very nice and fancy jacket while doing so). Plus, his love for the players and their sport rivals that of my love of writing about Drake (which I think we all know by now is in a league of its own).
So seeing Drake in his very own NBA uniform, smiling proudly on the courts as though starring in a remake of Space Jam, would’ve been a treat. Such "Views" as the one pertaining to Drizzy’s while landing a slam dunk would’ve been a thoroughly boss way to establish himself as both a 6ix and a Sports God. Or he could have staged an opp where he was the coach and also all of the basketball players — the type of album art I dream about, especially if there was a song on the album called "Let’s Play Some Basketball (feat. Michael Jordan)."
But that also would’ve confused people who aren’t as funny as we are. And then they would wonder if Drake was really a basketball player, or if he was now a parody artist on the same page as Weird Al. (I dream that one day he will be.) So no -- no to the Air Canada Centre. Even though I’m sure that when Drizzy pulls up there for a game or two, he 100 percent tells himself that he’s going to work.
This hip eatery isn’t actually a landmark at all ("Yet!" she cried), but it is rumored that Drake is part-owner, and also he hangs out here, and the food is great, and ... never mind, actually. His cover for Take Care was already shot at a Toronto restaurant, Joso’s, and two resto covers in five years would mean Drake was only one promo away from staring directly into the camera lens and saying, "When you’re here, you’re family."
Few things would’ve made sense like a photo of Drake looking out over Toronto from the castle where he reportedly held a party alongside Michael Jordan recently. Especially since the mansion boasts an incredible view (eh?) of the city, as its original owner intended.
But that said, the building’s legacy is laced with tragedy: The owners lost all their money, the property and its possessions were sold off, and now it belongs to the city. We know that Drake enjoys a nice cry and a Sad Man™ persona, but I feel like this reality would be too bleak, even for him.
Pearson International Airport
OK, look: He mentions it in Take Care's "The Ride" ("I haven’t been inside Terminal 1 and 3 in so long"), and I think we’d all have paid top dollar for a shot of Aubrey flying a plane, looking at the camera, and giving a big thumbs-up. Talk about Views! Talk about the View. (Talk about the show The View, and whether Mr. Graham would make a good guest host.)
But Drake’s professional persona doesn’t lend itself to overt enthusiasm. His private persona does (see: Drake at Raptors games, unable to control his excitement about his own life), but you’d never see Drake The Rapper gleefully beaming over the GTA, marveling at the wonders of elevated altitude and modern flight systems. He can’t. This man has a reputation to uphold.
All of which leaves us with the cover he chose for Views. It all makes sense now. So dear Aubrey will sit, sad, teetering over the edge of a large tower.