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No doubt, Drake is popular.

Any proof necessary can be found in the photos and video footage taken yesterday from his cancelled performance at New York City’s South Street Seaport.

The man caused a near riot all because he didn’t show up. Billboard reported today he’s on pace to sell over 475K copies of his major-label debut, Thank Me Later, and over 500 people lined up outside of a New York City Best Buy the day before the album dropped just so they can get a signed copy.

So yeah, popular? Definitely an apt description for Drake’s current place in society. But is he famous? Eh, there’s a case to be made that when it comes to starpower and fame, Drake may be moving in the right direction, but he hasn’t landed at his destination yet.

drakeseaport

A lot of comparisons have been made to Drake’s 2010 buzz against 50 Cent’s back in 2002. Even Drake himself says it on the song, “You Know, You Know” (Show them ni**as every single thing I showed you/I’m here feeling like 50 back in ’02), but by now, it’s clear, Drake’s buzz, if not bigger, is definitely different. What Drake is right now is more like a phenomenon, the kind of fame that can be fleeting if not cultivated carefully. For all that he’s accomplished — from the perhaps millions in song downloads (both legitimate and illegal) to the sold out shows before he even released an album — Drake still has along way to go before he can be considered a bonafide superstar.

All this talk about whether or not he’s going to go gold in the first week or platinum in the first week, and only then will we be able to assess just how big of a buzz he has, is just nonsense. Sure Drake’s buzz can probably now sell a blank disc (as he proudly boasts on “Best I Ever Had”), but to grade his fame off something as narrow-focused as album sales numbers is to be short sighted. The truly famous have success that transcends first week album sales.

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As Jay-Z said in his recent cover story for Rolling Stone, “There’s always an extra level you don’t know about.” And if anyone would know about an extra level, it’s Jay-Z who just finished headlining the world renowned music festival, Bonnaroo. Not to mention, Coachella earlier this year, and in 2009, Glastonbury. Keep in mind, Stevie Wonder also performed at Bonnaroo, but the legendary man didn’t come on after Jay, he came on before him. To top it off, before Wonder left the stage, he reportedly said he’s going to watch Jay-Z. Now I’m not for certain, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Stevie Wonder didn’t know who Drake is, because for right now, Drake’s fame is still stuck within one generation of people.

Because a large part of Drake’s buzz has been acquired through the Internet, and because he’s the first legitimate star to be born out of an age group under 21 (a group most people over 21 refer to as kids) we would like to think this whole Drake-fever is something new, but it really isn’t. Drake’s buzz is just the noisest, like a rap version of Justin Bieber who could or could not be around in five years. Like a kid trying to stay home from school on some “I’m sick” excuse, Drake fever isn’t that high, but that is not to say it’s room temperature either.

Like many others, I sometimes am shocked and awed by Drake’s rise to fame. He has these moments I read or see on the Internet that make me shake my head and say, “This guy? Already?” Even when I was asked to write his most current cover story for Paper magazine, I had to ask my editor to repeat the name because I wasn’t quite sure I heard the name of the guy whose mixtape I was downloading a little over a year ago. But alas, it was him they wanted to put on the cover. Alas it was Drake on the front page of The New York Times Arts & Leisure section this past Sunday. Alas it was him on the cover of VIBE. Alas it was Drake on the cover of Billboard, Vibe, and performing at last year’s Grammys before an album even dropped.

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But so far, it has not been Drake sitting on the couch of Letterman or Leno. It has not been Drake performing or hosting Saturday Night Live. It has not been Drake performing on even the undercard of a Bonnaroo or Coachella festival.

When it comes to fame Drake is definitely so far gone from his Degrassi days it’s not even funny, but here’s hoping he doesn’t get caught up in the memories of right now because he still has so far to go.

VIA: GlobalGrind.com