Drake is arguably the hottest name in hip-hop today. The same could be argued for Kanye West. Drake just played before a packed house at Toyota Center. Kanye will do the same on September 20. Kanye is married to a celebrity; Drake is allegedly dating one. Both have chalked up pop hits aplenty, not to mention their beefs with other artists. Both men released albums this year that received their fair share of criticism. And both men, like true pop culture pioneers such as Madonna and Prince, are identifiable by one name only.
In short, Drake and Kanye have quite a bit in common. They are also, in a way, a study in contrast. With Drake having just blown through Houston for a pair of sold-out shows, and with Kanye about to grace Houston with his presence next Tuesday, a tale of the tape for these two artists seemed in order.
Musical output is a wash; when you factor in full-length releases, compilations, extended plays and mixtapes, both Drake and Kanye have produced 12 albums. And since quantity of output doesn’t really account for much anyway, it boils down to quality. Each rapper has had his fair share of hits and misses, both have pretty much ruled the hip-hop charts since coming on the scene, and both are known for their musical diversity – Kanye is among the more experimental musicians in the game today, and Drake vacillates between hip-hop and R&B like no other. So it’s basically a tie, one broken by the fact that Kanye’s production skills prior to becoming a rapper – and afterward, for that matter – are something Drake simply can’t touch. That includes radio hit “Bitch Better Have My Money,” performed by none other than Rihanna, Drake’s alleged flame (we’ll get to that in a bit).
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Drake isn’t the most inspired rapper in the game, and his alleged interest in a battle rap against Eminem would have proven as much. That said, dude gets in the studio and makes magic, as heard on underrated raps like “Weston Road Flows,” “No Tellin’” and “5 A.M. in Toronto,” among others. Kanye, meanwhile, has utilized his exquisite production skills in crafting a number of hits, which sorta masked one thing — Kanye West isn’t a very good lyricist, and he tends to fall back on the “rhyme one word with the same word” on a number of raps, including but not limited to “Big Brother,” “The Glory” and “Never Let Me Down.”
When it comes to fashion, and pretty much anything else, Kanye is not one for convention. His recent showcase at New York's Fashion Week was dubbed "a hot mess" by USA Today, but it almost feels as if Kanye wanted it that way. Dude also has his own fashion line and a deal with Adidas that includes his own shoe (Yeezy Boosts – currently sold out on the Adidas online store). Drake is a fashionable man himself and even has his own shoe line with Nike. Plus, dude even made Wolverine work boots fashionable! That said, Kanye seems more interested in fashion than music these days, which gives him a slight edge.
My mom likes Drake. Your mom probably likes Drake. The dude is just safe enough to tap into the mom and kid fanbase, while maintaining just enough cred to cater to those who appreciate catchy hip-hop and R&B. He’s handsome, charming and a born showman (his recent hosting gig on Saturday Night Live was the high point of the season). Kanye? Well, he’s a showman in his own way, one who bum-rushes awards-show stages, rambles on Ellen and does weird shit simply because he can. That makes for one provocative entertainer, if not exactly a beloved one.
Drake is no stranger to hip-hop feuds, as evidenced by his differences of opinion with the likes of Pusha T, Common, Jay-Z, Ludacris, Puff Daddy and, perhaps most notably, Meek Mill. But Kanye. Well, Kanye never met a target he wouldn’t go after; that includes taking shots at former President George W. Bush and Beck. Even the current Commander In Chief called him a “jackass” after Kanye infamously rushed the stage to confront Taylor Swift. Speaking of which, anyone who can beef with Taylor Swift to the point where she becomes interesting is going to have the edge here.
Kanye married someone famous for...well, we’re not quite sure exactly. Drake dated Serena Williams (arguably the best female tennis player of all time) and has since allegedly moved on to Rihanna, someone famous for being maybe the most badass pop star on the planet.
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This is a tough one, mostly because Drake and Kanye come at things from slightly different perspectives. Drake is the mild-mannered charmer who can show his teeth when need be. Kanye, meanwhile, is the very definition of a live wire. That said, while Drake is content to crank out hits and play before packed houses, Kanye’s public stunts these past few years reek of a man attempting to maintain relevancy while releasing music to diminishing returns. When we talk about Drake, we talk about a pop music force. When we talk about Kanye, well, we just sorta talk about Kanye.