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This Day In Pop: Drake Signs With Young Money Records

Jordan Miller

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This Day In Pop is a reoccurring RX piece, where BreatheHeavy examines a monumental anniversary in pop music. Whether it be a blockbuster release, game-changing performance, live mishap, or something in between, we’re here to dig through the archives and highlight some of the biggest moments in pop music history.

If you let go of the traditional definition, Drake is certainly up there as one of the most popular pop stars of our time. Hip-hop might be his sweet spot, but we’ve watched his soundscape open up as he’s swayed in and out of the blurry genres of rap, R&B, pop, dancehall. In our latest installment of BreatheHeavy’s This Day In Pop, we’re revisiting the chart-topper’s origins when it was confirmed that he had pledged his allegiance to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Records on June 29, 2011.

Only a few years after his final appearance on Degrassi: The Next Generation, the aspiring superstar offered up So Far Gone, his debut commercial mixtape, under his October’s Very Own label. The buzz from the set caught the ears of many folks, but when you have figures like Kanye WestTalib Kweli, as well as a number of executives like Warner Music‘s Lyor Cohen, all in attendance of your show, you have to be doing something right. Whispers circulated that he had nabbed a deal with Universal Motown, but it was clear that the loyalty of his inner team might have influenced his decision in a label. 

“Just know that whatever label we sign to it’ll be because they’ll add to what we’ve created on our own,” Drake told Billboard prior to the announcement. “I am very happy in my situation now, which is signed to Cortez [Bryant] and Gee Roberson at Young Money and management through ‘Hip Hop Since 1978.’ The most important thing for me is being around my team – they are stronger than any label.”

June 29, 2011 proved monumental for the Canadian star when it was announced that he landed a joint venture between Young Money and Cash Money, with Universal Republic distributing. No concrete details about the deal were revealed but it’s rumored that the contract included an eight-album obligation. And if you’re wondering how Birdman is involved in all of this, YM serves as a division of Birdman’s Cash Money Records. Interestingly enough, his management wanted Drizzy to be viewed as an independent artist, despite Universal’s role in distributing. 



“Independent is a funny term. I can go independent, but you need distribution, period. You need somebody to distribute your record and you need that army that a label has to really push the record,” he told MTV News on set of his video for “Best I Ever Had.”

“Today is a definitely a comfortable day for me, having my team now that’s been in place for a couple of years. It’s just a great day,” he said. “It’s something new, but it feels familiar.”

Drake’s origin might sound like inside ball, but it’s certainly an interesting milestone to revisit in the entertainer’s career, even more so for the folks that watched him play Wheelchair Jimmy on Degrassi. Almost a decade since the signing, it appears as if the contractual obligations of the past are coming to a close. Earlier this month, Drake dropped two new songs in celebration of the Toronto Raper’s first-ever NBA championship win. 

After the release of his 2018 LP, Scorpion, word spread that the project fulfilled his obligations and the new two cuts Omertà” and “Money in the Grave,” featuring Rick Ross allude to that. The pair marks his first release as a lead artist that isn’t under the Young Money or Cash Money umbrella. Instead, they were released via his Frozen Moments LLC, with licensing through Republic Records. In an era where record labels aren’t a necessity to prosper as an artist with social media and streaming being monumental lanes of promotion, Drake’s next step is an exciting one — just as it felt when he signed to Young Money in 2011. It’s something new, but it feels familiar.

This article is a bonus BreatheHeavy RX story. Start your free 7-day trial and enjoy the best premium pop music content on the Internet.

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