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On the Charts: Panic! At the Disco Take Number One With 'Pray for the Wicked'

Panic! At the Disco scored their second straight Number One album as Brendon Urie and company’s new LP Pray for the Wicked opened atop the Billboard 200.

Pray for the Wicked sold 180,000 total copies in its first week of release, giving it the best sales week for an alternative rock album since U2’s Songs of Experience in December 2017, Billboard reports. Panic! At the Disco last topped the album charts with their 2016 album Death of a Bachelor.

Only one more new release managed to debut inside the Top 10 this week: Country duo Dan + Shay’s self-titled album, which entered the Billboard 200 at Number Six and 44,000 total copies.

XXXTentacion’s ? led the returnees as the late rapper’s album continued to rise in the weeks following his death. ? moved to Number Two with 86,000 total copies, while the rapper’s 17 jumped from Number Seven to Number Five in the second sales week since the rapper’s shooting death at the age of 20.

Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys moved up one spot to Number Three, followed by Beyonce and Jay-Z’s Everything Is Love at Number Four and 59,000 total copies in its second week of release.

Juice WRLD’s Goodbye & Good Riddance (Number Seven), Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy (Eight), the Greatest Showman soundtrack (Nine) and last week’s Number One, 5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood, filled out the Top 10.

Next week, Drake’s Scorpion is destined for Number One on the strength of the best streaming totals ever. Florence and the Machine’s High as Hope and Gorillaz’ The Now Now should also help shake up the Top 10.

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Selena Gomez's 'Back to You' Is the Song of the Summer

What makes a summer jam? Is it the sunniest chorus, the hottest beat, the most weeks on the charts? Do the lyrics have to be about beaches and barbecues, or is it a question of vibe? What if it’s a song on your summer playlist and no one else’s?

We believe the answer is “all of the above.” This summer, Rolling Stone’s writers will celebrate the songs that are ruling each of their worlds – from huge hits to weirder, more personal choices. Check back soon for more summer songs, and hear all our picks in the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post.

With its campfire strums and grab-the-car-keys impulsivity, “Back to You” is a natural summer song. It’s the feisty screed against your camp boyfriend who ditched you after 10 long months of letter-exchanging. Obviously, his name is Justin. We took him like a shot, as Gomez sings, during last year’s summer of “Despacito.” We were his sunrise on his darkest day. We savored every moment slowly.

And now we’re singing “Back to You.” It’s the melancholic jam for us goths, misanthropes and Sandra Dees to listen to on our lonely walks home. Gomez’s lilting soprano whispers to us like a cool stream of ventilated air as we sit inside while everyone else plays volleyball with Cardi B or Drake. Everyone but Selena, our goddess of the 2018 summer bummer.

“Back to You” starts off with the three prerequisites of a juicy top bunk secret: a an acoustic guitar, a cold evening and a hint of shame. “Every single word builds up to this moment,” she confides. “And I gotta convince myself I don’t want it, even though I do.”

The song’s country flavor is reminiscent of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” – and like that song 20 summers ago, “Back to You” is an international sensation. Nestled in the Top 20 in over 21 countries, Gomez’s song is stone-cold proof that no matter where you live or what language you speak, summer is the perfect time to sit and dwell on those who have wronged you.

“Back to You” has lots of precedents in this regard, from Cedric Gervais’ remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” all the way back to Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely.” But the one that most reminds me of “Back to You” came out during the summer of 1958: Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool,” about a cad who falls for a girl with “carefree devil eyes.” “I’d played this game with other hearts but I never thought I’d see/The day that someone else would play love’s foolish game with me,” Nelson sings. Sixty years later, these foolish games are still tearing us apart.

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Lil Wayne Tour Bus Shooter Has Conviction Overturned

The man accused of firing multiple gunshots at Lil Wayne’s tour bus in April 2015 had his conviction overturned Friday, just three years into a 10-year prison sentence.

After pleading guilty to the Atlanta highway drive-by shooting in November 2015, Jimmy Carlton Winfrey appealed his conviction in February, arguing that the judge overseeing his case coerced him into taking a previously rejected plea deal by threatening Winfrey – also known as Peewee Roscoe – with a harsher sentence if the charges went to trial, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

On Friday, Winfrey’s appeal made its way to the Georgia Supreme Court, who agreed that Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark did “cross the line” when she pressured and “impliedly threatened” Winfrey to take the plea deal.

At Winfrey’s 2015 trial, Clark warned Winfrey of the offered plea deal, “This opportunity is going away. Go to trial and you get convicted there’s not going to be any of me being concerned about when you parole out. I will not be concerned about when you parole out.” Clark also cited a previous case where she gave a gang member a 50-year sentence.

Winfrey was initially indicted on 30 counts stemming from the drive-by shooting, but as per the deal, he only pleaded guilty violating six charges of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act, which carried a 20-year sentence with 10 years in prison followed by 10 years on probation.

While Winfrey’s conviction was overturned, he will remain in custody as his case goes back to the starting point, with Winfrey opting between another plea deal or a new trial, his lawyer told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

At the time of the shooting, Winfrey was serving as Bryan “Birdman” Williams’ tour manager; Birdman and Lil Wayne were in the midst of their long-standing feud. Winfrey and Lil Wayne reportedly had a confrontation outside of an Atlanta nightclub prior to the shooting. Soon after the drive-by, Winfrey placed a call to a cell phone owned by Birdman, who denied any involvement in the shooting. Police speculated that Winfrey orchestrated the incident to gain “street cred.”

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Drake's 'Scorpion' Shatters Single-Day Streaming Records

Drake‘s Scorpion shattered single-day streaming records on both Apple Music and Spotify, with the rapper’s new double album on pace for the most streamed week in charts history.

Scorpion easily crushed Apple Music’s single-day streaming record – previously held by Drake’s own More Life – with 170 million streams worldwide in its first 24 hours of release, the Associated Press reports; More Life accumulated 89.9 million streams on the service upon its release in March 2017.

On Spotify, Scorpion‘s tracks have chalked up over 132 million streams in its first 24 hours, and all 25 Scorpion tracks appear among the first 41 spots on Spotify’s worldwide Top 200 chart; Side A opener “Non-Stop” drew 9.2 million streams alone.

Factoring in other music services and Scorpion is well on its way toward beating the record for most streams in one week, which Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys recorded earlier this year when that album opened at Number One thanks in part to 431 streams.

Thanks to Scorpion‘s oversized track list, the double album – A Side is dedicated to hip-hop while B Side focuses on R&B – could hit a billion streams in its first week of release, the Verge reports.

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Hear Vic Mensa Confront Addiction, Demons on New Song '10K Problems'

Vic Mensa has unleashed a cathartic new track titled “10K Problems” where the rapper reveals his struggles with drug addiction and adapting to fame.

“Niggas asking where I been at, I gotta recap it / Relapsing D-R-U-G habits / Tryin’ move forward, depression been holding me backwards / Recovery ain’t a straight line,” Mensa raps over a blistering beat. “What’s going on, like Marvin is / I heard it through the grapevine I’m fallin’ off / I been on another planet.”

Later on the track, Mensa reveals that his father was recently paralyzed following neck surgery. “It’s a painful process watching your parents die,” Mensa says, “And niggas look at my life and think I’m in paradise.”

“10K Problems” is Mensa’s second new song this month, following the arrival of “Reverse” featuring G-Eazy and producer Marshmello. The rapper, who released his similarly personal The Autobiography in 2017, also hopped on Nile Rodgers & Chic’s new single “Till the World Ends.”

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Drake Was Once R&B's Savior. On 'Scorpion,' He Returns to the Genre He Reinvented

As news that Drake‘s Scorpion would be a double album swept around the internet this week, it was quickly followed by a tantalizing rumor – one of the two LPs would be rap, while the other would be entirely R&B. Drake became a star by mixing these forms; now he would devote himself to each individually. 

This wasn’t a completely crazy idea: Drake, under duress after being bloodied in a rap-scrap with Pusha-T, would return to his comfort zone. There was also a healthy dose of wishful thinking here from fans with fond memories of Drake’s early years, when he initiated a paradigm shift in R&B. From his 2009 major-label debut, the So Far Gone EP, through 2011’s Take Care, Drake worked heavily in the genre, but in the years since he turned much of his attention elsewhere, exploring other genres and often passing R&B digressions off to guests.

Like many of the rumors swirling before the release of Scorpion, Drake’s R&B album turned out to be largely a myth. Still, there are seven singing-heavy tracks on the second volume of Scorpion, many of which blur into a crawling stew of romantic anguish and missed opportunity; it’s the most R&B that Drake has delivered personally in years. This feels fitting, as R&B is more prominent now than it has been during any other moment in Drake’s career. He’s diving back into a genre that he almost singlehandedly re-tooled and, commercially speaking, helped revive.

When Drake started scoring hits regularly in 2009, R&B was struggling for attention in the mainstream; the dollars were all in Top 40 pop, and to a lesser extent, hip-hop. To get by during this period, R&B titans like Usher and Ne-Yo were forced to appear on numbing EDM records. “It was a point where people were saying R&B was dead,” the singer Ro James tells Rolling Stone. “But Drake showed a different perspective.”

He’s diving back into a genre that he almost singlehandedly re-tooled and, commercially speaking, helped revive.

On Drake’s singing records in those early years, some of his choices had a clear lineage: Noah “40” Shebib, his go-to producer, is on the record as a Tank fan, and you can hear echoes of Tank’s “Coldest Winter” in the beats of “Successful,” “Fireworks” and “Marvin’s Room.” But Drake redefined R&B singing with startling speed. “He made it acceptable to be simple again,” says Tiffany Fred, a Grammy-winning songwriter who has also released an entire EP of Drake covers. “He took the thought process of a rapper into singing and proved you don’t need all the theatrics,” adds Brian Warfield, one half of the writing-production duo Fisticuffs (Jazmine Sullivan, Miguel).

For decades, R&B was synonymous with vocalists who could execute virtuosic runs and slather tracks with wrenching ad-libs. “Before [Drake], when recording the hook in an R&B song, you would stack it four times, you would have background vocals,” Warfield explains. “Harmonies and ad-libs was where you got to flex your muscle, show your vocal ability and your ear.”

Drake dispensed with much of that tradition, or imported it – via samples of Nineties singers like Jon B or features with rising stars like the Weeknd. The primary vocal lines stayed approachable. “Drake doesn’t do vocal acrobatics most of the time,” Fred says. 

This democratized a genre once known for heroic feats. “Drake sets his octave lower, so it’s less flamboyant,” explains songwriter August Rigo (Kehlani, SWV). “And because it’s in an octave close to speaking, it allows everybody who can’t sing to sing a Drake song. His sing-ability is a ten.”

“He made his own lane, and the person I would compare him to in that regard is Lionel Richie”

Drake also inverted structural expectations for R&B songs. He loves Jodeci and sampled them, but a Drake ballad never erupts like a Jodeci ballad. He sings in long, graspable lines, snuggling up to notes rather than attacking and embellishing them. His song form matches this vocal approach – even in “Passionfruit,” an undeniable hit, there is no cathartic release during the hook. “Usually songs build from the verse and the chorus explodes,” Rigo says. “In Drake songs, the chorus will come in and everything will drop out – it’s kind of backwards.” R&B singers are often known for jumping up the scale; Drake is just as likely to modulate downwards.

Drake’s innovations worked like crazy. “He made his own lane, and the person I would compare him to in that regard is Lionel Richie,” says Mark Batson (Beyoncé, Anthony Hamilton). “When everyone was doing hard funk music, Richie created this smooth lane, and wrote great songs.” (Drake did Richie one better, since he was across the aisle making the modern day equivalent of hard funk – hip-hop – at the same time.) The purest example of the Drake R&B sound remains “Marvin’s Room” from 2011, surely one of the least dynamic tracks to reach Number 21 on the Hot 100. The single is magnetic precisely because Drake’s puddle of jealousy never boils over musically – there is no resolution in this R&B, no satisfyingly angsty explosion, only stasis.

An entire class of young singers took this style as gospel – here were tools they could use to survive in a world driven by hip-hop. You hear echoes of Drake in Bryson Tiller and Tory Lanez, Tinashe and Jhene Aiko, Post Malone and Kehlani, A. Chal and 6lack, Majid Jordan and PARTYNEXTDOOR, Roy Woods and DVSN (the last four are all signed to Drake’s OVO label). For years, it was impossible to turn on the radio without hearing a Drake disciple. The allure of this template was such that even R&B veterans like Alicia Keys and Beyonce, who specialize in old-school vocal displays, moderated their energy on tracks Drake co-wrote (“Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” and “Mine,” respectively).

Since all these artists were pushing Drake’s sound, it was easy for him to indulge other interests. Starting after Take Care, when singing and swinging for the charts, Drake began jetting to new genres, including Jamaican dancehall, Nigerian afrobeats and South African house. He allowed other artists to take the lead vocals on entire tracks – letting PARTYNEXTDOOR wail and moan on “Wednesday Night Interlude,” handing the mic to Sampha on the keening “4422.” And even though Drake had so much success elevating melody, he worked hard to hone a bruising, quarrelsome rap style, which carried him from “Worst Behavior” to If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, from What a Time to Be Alive to “Free Smoke” and “No Long Talking.”

For much of Scorpion, especially the first half, this remains Drake’s mode: Head down, fists up. But the second part of the new album serves as a change of pace. The transformation is foreshadowed on the final track of Side One by Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote, who harmonizes with herself during an impressive snippet of an Aaliyah cover. When Drake returns on Side Two, he is staggering around in a familiar R&B-induced stupor. “Peak,” “Jaded” and “Finesse” are wonderfully lackluster – no one could deliver the line “honestly, I can’t stand ya” with less bite than Drake. These could all be one long track, artfully deflated and eminently singable. There’s more momentum in “Summer Games,” “Ratchet Happy Birthday,” “Don’t Matter to Me” and “After Dark,” but you know these partially-committed melodic patterns and nonchalant croons – you’ve been hearing them for almost a decade.

For Drake, this part of Scorpion is both a welcome return to form and surprisingly conventional. When R&B was struggling, he helped clear a path for it move forward. But now he offers up a rigid vision of R&B – especially at a time, maybe the first in a decade, when his grip on the genre is weakening. Several young singers on the charts today, including Daniel Caesar, Ella Mai and Jacquees, owe little to Drake’s sound. And by far the most successful R&B act of the last three months has been Ty Dolla $ign, who loves the sort of vocal drama that Drake sent into exile: For Ty, the more complex harmonies and melismatic acrobatics, the better.

So when Ty shows up twice on the second half of Scorpion it feels startling and momentous, an alien incursion in Drake-land. He’s there in “Jaded,” emoting wildly somewhere behind Drake like an R&B feelings-translator. And on “After Dark,” Ty moves into the forefront, pleading and ad-libbing through an entire verse without restraint. After years of relying on Drake’s blueprints, R&B is moving on. But these two songs suggest that Drake might consider moving with it.

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Death Grips' 'Black Paint' Is the Song of the Summer

What makes a summer jam? Is it the sunniest chorus, the hottest beat, the most weeks on the charts? Do the lyrics have to be about beaches and barbecues, or is it a question of vibe? What if it’s a song on your summer playlist and no one else’s?

We believe the answer is “all of the above.” This summer, Rolling Stone’s writers will celebrate the songs that are ruling each of their worlds – from huge hits to weirder, more personal choices. Check back soon for more summer songs, and hear all our picks in the Spotify playlist at the bottom of this post.

Cardi B’s cravensexybrilliant “I Like It” is shaping up to be the consensus pick for 2018’s Song of the Summer. What’s more, it’s on track to take the trophy from DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” in the all-time contest for most shameless yet undeniable pop reboot of an already-iconic song. But “Black Paint,” from rap-rock-industrial-noise-punk computer viruses Death Grips, is worth consideration as a different kind of summer jam. Even though the whole paint-your-windows-black, ‘noided agoraphobe vibe isn’t exactly my summer feeling of choice, the aggro “I require privacy” chorus of “Black Paint” will still resonate in the relative isolation of a sunny headphone walk.

Think of it this way: “I Like It” paves the way forward with a new twist on a familiar recipe, sampling the 1967 Pete Rodriguez original whose biggest cultural moment prior to this came from a mid-Nineties Burger King commercial. Death Grips pave their road to the always-online future by pointing back to another stretch of the Nineties, the one between Woodstock ’94 and Woodstock ’99. “Black Paint” is Nine Inch Nails, the Judgment Night soundtrack, Atari Teenage Riot, Korn, Deerhoof, Onyx, Boredoms and Bomb Hip-Hop Records’ Revenge of the B-Boy turntablism albums. Plug in and paint it, black.

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Eric B & Rakim Ready 'Complete Collection' Vinyl Box Set

Eric B & Rakim will reissue their entire catalog on vinyl for the first time with the pioneering rap duo’s The Complete Collection 1987-1992.

The 8-LP, 2-CD set collects the duo’s four albums – 1987s Paid in Full, 1988’s Follow the Leader, 1990’s Let the Rhythm Hit Em and 1992’s Don’t Sweat the Technique – as well as two discs worth of remixes, many of which will be made available digitally for the first time as part of The Complete Collection.

The Complete Collection 1987-1992, due out July 13th and available to preorder now, also comes with a 36-page deluxe booklet, the albums’ original liner notes, a ridged slipcase and more.

Nearly 25 years after the rapper and producer parted ways, Eric B & Rakim reunited in 2017 for a Paid in Full anniversary concert. The one-off reunion turned into a full-fledged tour in 2018, including a gig at the all-star Yo! MTV Raps concert in Brooklyn.

PAID IN FULL

1. I Ain’t No Joke
2. Eric B. Is on the Cut
3. My Melody
4. I Know You Got Soul
5. Move the Crowd
6. Paid in Full
7. As the Rhyme Goes On
8. Chinese Arithmetic
9. Eric B. Is President
10. Extended Beat

FOLLOW THE LEADER
1. Follow the Leader
2. Microphone Fiend
3. Lyrics of Fury
4. Eric B. Never Scared
5. Just a Beat
6. Put Your Hands Together
7. To the Listeners
8. No Competition
9. The R
10. Musical Massacre
11. Beats for the Listeners

LET THE RHYTHM HIT EM
1. Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em
2. No Omega
3. In the Ghetto
4. Step Back
5. Eric B. Made My Day
6. Run for Cover
7. Untouchables
8. Mahogany
9. Keep ‘Em Eager to Listen
10. Set ‘Em Straight

DON’T SWEAT THE TECHNIQUE
1. What’s on Your Mind?
2. Teach the Children
3. Pass the Hand Grenade
4. Casualties of War
5. Rest Assured
6. The Punisher
7. Relax with Pep
8. Keep the Beat
9. What’s Going On?
10. Know the Ledge
11. Don’t Sweat the Technique
12. Kick Along

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Josh Homme Shares Letter Anthony Bourdain Wrote to Rocker's Daughter

Josh Homme has shared a letter Anthony Bourdain wrote to the Queens of the Stone Age frontman’s daughter Camille that encapsulates the friendship between the rocker and the late chef.

“Tony, I miss you bad. Once Camille was so mad at you. She was defending me. & So were you. Defending me. As we had done & would do many times over the years for each other. & you, with great care, such empathy, such sweetness… you apologized to a little girl who was defending her daddy,” Homme wrote of the letter, noting to Bourdain’s own daughter, “Ariane, this was your father.”

In Bourdain’s letter, he apologized to Camille for smashing one of Homme’s guitars during a promo for the Parts Unknown episode that Bourdain filmed with Homme in the California High Desert.

“You saw me take Daddy’s guitar and smash it against a tree and I’m sure that was upsetting,” Bourdain wrote, explaining that the promo was a “not so subtle” ode to a similar scene in National Lampoon’s Animal House where John Belushi’s character destroys an acoustic guitar.

“Know that that was in fact not really Daddy’s guitar, and that we were both just playing around,” he continued. “Daddy would have been very angry were I to do such a thing – and as he is a large man, I would not still be here to write this letter. I like your Daddy very much. We are friends.”

As evidence of their close friendship, Bourdain colorfully reminisced about an incident at the bar Pappy & Harriet’s were a “superfan” accosted Homme, who “guided him by the thorax” to a security guard.

“I would have broken my beer glass across the man’s skull and then jabbed the remnants into his ****ing neck. That’s the kind of guy I am,” Bourdain wrote. “I had your Daddy’s back – just like he had mine.”

Bourdain closed out the letter by praising the “completely brilliant” Homme, stating that the rocker never got drunk during filming despite the frequent tequila drinking and asking what Homme cooks for her at home.

Following Bourdain’s death by suicide on June 8th, Homme paid tribute to his friend both on social media and onstage, with Queens of the Stone Age dedicating “Long Slow Goodbye” to his “brother” Tony.

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Drake’s Favorite Collaborators are Ghosts

It’s unclear how, exactly, Drake pulled it off. On “Don’t Matter To Me,” a late song on the rapper’s latest album Scorpion, he recruits Michael Jackson for a duet. The late King of Pop is listed as a feature, and true to that billing, his voice handles chorus duties over a brooding beat that feels tailor-made for a Drake song called “Don’t Matter To Me.”

Jackson’s estate declined to comment on how his vocals made it to Scorpion, but sampling his voice isn’t entirely unheard of. Large Professor famously flipped “Human Nature” for Nas’ classic Illmatic cut “It Ain’t Hard To Tell,” in 1994, establishing the move as a flag in the ground. Since then, sampling Jackson is designed to show you’re at the top of your game, a flex by publishing rate.

Just sampling Jackson, though, wasn’t enough for Drake. Instead, he uncovered an unreleased song (or, equally as likely, an unfinished chorus), secured the Jackson estate’s permission, and built a song around it. “Don’t Matter To Me” opens like most Drake songs, with gloomy, atmospheric synths and Drake singing sweetly to an ex-lover. Then Jackson comes in; even with some digital quivering added to his vocals, he’s unmistakeable. While the “featuring Michael Jackson” billing would feel like an unnecessary flourish in almost any scenario, it’s close to earned here.

This retroactive style of collaboration with Jackson has happened once before, when Justin Timberlake – another ostensible heir to the King of Pop mantle – dueted with him on “Love Never Felt So Good,” a single from Jackson’s 2014 posthumous album Xscape. In that case, though, Timberlake was invited and inserted into a Jackson album, not the other way around. Drake created the song in a similar manner, but “Don’t Matter To Me” is wholly his.

Just one track later, Drake repeats the feat, this time placing Static Major – the late, influential songwriter of Ginuwine’s “Pony” and Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” – alongside man of the sumer Ty Dolla Sign on “After Dark.” That means that of the four listed features on Scorpion (there are more that are subtler, and unlisted), half are posthumous appearances. It’s an attention-grabbing move that’s in line with Drake’s entire career.

This is not the first time Drake has dug up Static Major material: The singer, a tragically gifted figure in modern R&B, also popped up in the form of a sample on “Look What You’ve Done,” Drake’s touching ode to his family from 2011’s Take Care. The sample there came not from a recorded song, but a YouTube clip of Static rehearsing in an echo-y room, accompanied only by a piano, that producer Chase N. Cashe discovered and chopped before 40 built it into its final version.

Five years later, on Views, Drake excavated an unreleased Pimp C verse for the track “Faithful.” The UGK rapper died in 2007, but left behind some music. One of his unreleased verses made its way to Drake, whose passion for all things Houston lends the move some credence; he dropped it into the song alongside OVO signees dvsn.

Drake takes pains to find samples that no one else has, and weaves them into songs to make them feel like features – collaborations, even.

Drake’s most persistent, deeply felt musical relationship outside of his closest collaborators is his relationship with Aaliyah. Drake’s sampled Aaliyah, has a tattoo of Aaliyah, interpolated Aaliyah on Scorpion and once embarked on producing an ill-fated album of Aaliyah’s unreleased material.

All of this to say: Drake really likes working with artists that are no longer here. Rappers deploy samples of dead artists all the time. The way Drake does it is different. He takes pains to find samples that no one else has, and weaves them into songs to make them feel like features – collaborations, even – rather than just a clip used to create a beat

A cynical reading of this is that’s he’s showing off his influence (and his bank account); these artists are hard to get to, and Drake loves to flex. Kanye West has rapped about being the next Michael Jackson for about a decade, but getting his estate on your side is a more difficult proposition. Of course, that’s not all that’s going on here. The artists Drake picks seem to be the artist he genuinely believes he would be working with, had he been born in another time.

Getting an artist like Jackson, or Aaliyah, or Static Major, or Pimp C on a song does function as a straightforward prestige move. It provides an immediate sense of sadness to the proceedings – a quality Drake prizes in much of his music – but it also ties Drake to a broader historical legacy (in rap, lending a feature to someone is as strong a cosign as they come). By including these voices in his own catalog, he influences how he’ll be talked about when he’s not in the conversation.

In the curious case of “Don’t Matter To Me,” the trend bends further than it ever has to date. From listening to it, the song doesn’t sound like Drake found an unreleased Michael Jackson song and made it work for his purposes. It sounds like Drake wrote a hook for Michael Jackson to sing. The effect is an odd one, closer to Drake cosigning the biggest pop star to ever live rather than the other way around. Everything feels uncanny when you play with death.

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