Drake and Kanye: both in contention to take the title of World’s Greatest Rapper. Both break the internet with their every move. Both have worked with Rihanna and Beyonce. Now, though, is the ultimate parallel: at this stage in history, each rapper has promoted a new record by shifting album-themed clothes in a New York pop-up store named after that record – respectively, ‘Views from the Six’ and ‘The Life of Pablo’. Truly, this is a momentous showdown.
But whose NYC pop-up was better? Let’s assess the evidence.
Both took to Twitter to advertise their wares. Kanye was on the promo trail for controversial album ‘The Life of Pablo’ (we loved it) back on March 17. Fans made moves to scramble to Soho, New York, to get their hands on some ‘Pablo’-themed goodies.
Then, yesterday, Drake fired a similar missive, albeit in cooler, more superior way. It’s Drake’s world; we just work in it.
Verdict: Stalemate. Drake almost edged it with that painfully cool ‘Compliments of the Company’ tagline, but who could ever tire of Kanye’s addiction to caps lock?
When the day rolled around, Instagram and Twitter were of course ablaze with people posting and boasting about their attendance at the event. Fans queued around the block on both instances. Kanye hyped his own pop-up, overseeing it like an omniscient rap god.
This ‘grammer captured the festival atmosphere, with Kanye’s song ‘Ultralight Beam’ playing in the background and a crush forming at the front barriers.
There was even a lil kid handing out slices of pizza. Too cute.
Meanwhile, Drake’s event held its own. In the clip that captures the festival atmosphere at Kanye’s pop-up, the poster comments that the queue has snaked around two blocks. Guess what!
Judging by that post, it seems Drake’s line has at least equalled this feat. Incredible scenes.
Yet Drake cast a shadow over his own shindig. The rumour was out that he was going to attend the event – a rumour that turned out to be false. As you can see below, a security guard had to break the news to disappointed fans. Fans at the Kanye pop-up seemed to be more excited about the actual event itself.
Verdict: Kanye wins this one by a whisker. Music, pizza, excitement – and people were genuinely just hyped about the gear.
THE VIEW FROM INSIDE
The merch-loving rappers are even Stevens at this point. Yet here the rift emerges. Kanye’s event was an extravaganza of sound and vision, a sort of capitalist art installation with artworks that reflected lyrics from his album. There was a picture of a wolf and ‘The Life of Pablo’ contains a song called ‘Wolves’. Geddit?
Inkeeping with his persona, Drake’s pop-up was cooler, more laid back, less mad. He doesn’t try as hard as Kanye. As Mashable put it: “The space itself was sparsely decorated, save for Beats by Dre logos and Drake’s Views logo.”
Sort of just looks like T-shirts in the corner of a shop, doesn’t it?
Verdict: Kanye, your attention to detail has paid off again.
THE ACTUAL MERCH
Let’s get this straight. Drake was giving away free T-shirts with the word “VIEWS” written on them. Some were in black, some were in white. More importantly, they were free. Unlike ‘Ye, Drake doesn’t see himself as a fashion designer first and musician second, so he had little to prove here.
Meanwhile Kanye has spent the last few years telling and everyone who would listen that he should be the next big thing in fashion. Remember when he ranted to Zane Lowe about how he invented the leather jogging pant? So there was much to prove here. There were denim jackets, slogan jumpers and tees, sneakers and T-shirts commemorating his late mother and father-in-law. And T-shirts at Kanye’s event were not free; they were around $40. Bomber jackets were $350.
Verdict: Kanye, Kanye, Kanye. All the way.
Finally, what did Kanye and Drake want to achieve with all this? Did they get what they wanted? Shortly before his stunt, Kanye tweeted that he was $53 million in personal debt. It’s possible to speculate that he wanted money at this stage in his life. After the three-day pop-up closed, he claimed that it had made him $1m. As is so often the case, Kanye got what he wanted.
Drake just wanted to make a noise about this upcoming album, which is out April 29. But why promote an album about Toronto – nicknamed ‘The Six’ – with a pop-up in New York? As Kanye once said, ‘Stupid – but what the hell do I know?’
Verdict: You guessed it. Kanye’s ‘The Life of Pablo’ pop-up – with music, video, a mad agenda to pay off a gargantuan debt he claims he incurred while making foolhardy investments in his own fashion line – was a piece of art. Drake’s was a room containing some free T-shirts.