Canadian rapper Drake, one of the most successful rappers of the moment, on Friday released his long-awaited new album, Views -- an ode to his hometown Toronto. The album -- his fourth studio album, and the first since Nothing Was the Same in 2013 -- is a 20-track opus that clocks in at nearly 90 minutes.
It was released exclusively at midnight on Apple Music and iTunes -- further evidence of the power of the streaming market.
“The album is based around the change of the seasons in our city,” the 29-year-old Canadian rapper said in an interview late Thursday with Apple’s Internet radio station Beats 1. Fans got an early listen of the music before the midnight release. “Winter to summer and then back to winter again. It’s just to show you the two extreme moods that we have. We’re very grateful for our summers but we also make our winters work ... And they’re harsh.”
“It creates a different type of atmosphere, a different sound, a different type of person even. And I thought it was really important to make the album here during the winter,” he said. Drake invited a few top names to collaborate with him: Rihanna -- who previously paired with the rapper on What’s My Name? and Work -- sings on Too Good and Kanye West produced U With Me?
Views also includes a few recently released songs including Pop Style featuring West and Jay Z -- billed as the Throne -- and the smash hit Hotline Bling as a bonus track.
The album cover is a picture of the landmark CN Tower in Canada’s largest city -- with the rapper Photoshopped into it so he appears to be perched on top of it.
Drake first started discussing the album in 2014, and gave it a temporary title, Views from the 6 -- a reference to the fact that in 1998, Toronto incorporated six separate municipalities into one mega-city.
But in 2015, he instead released two separate mixtapes. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, which Drake considered a mixtape and he initially released on Apple’s iTunes, was the sixth top selling ‘album’ in the United States in 2015 and was nominated for the Grammy for Best Rap Album.
The success of the mixtape propelled Drake to be one of the most sought-after performers last year and he headlined major festivals including Coachella in California.
Drake is set to tour in the United States and Canada this summer.
The release of Views comes less than a week after Beyonce dropped her surprise new album, Lemonade -- also exclusively on a streaming platform, her husband Jay Z’s Tidal.
In 2015, recorded music revenue expanded by 3.2 percent worldwide to $15 billion, fueled by an extraordinary growth in subscriptions to streaming services, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
The growth was the first uptick in the music industry at a more than marginal level since 1998, when sales grew 4.8 percent year-on-year.
Apple Music now has 13 million users, Apple boss Tim Cook said this week.