The music video for Drake’s latest No. 1 hit, “God’s Plan,” dropped Friday. It’s a beautifully shot portrayal of black and brown life in Miami, where Drake descended like the patron saint of wealth redistribution and gave away nearly $1 million of his own money to people. It’s nice! It’s really nice. The video is sweet. It also makes me look back on more than a week’s worth of “Look At Drake Doing Something Nice!” news stories and feel weird, because of capitalism.
Drake is a super-smart marketer. He could teach a master class in maintaining your personal brand—because, of course, his brand is perfectly reflected in both his music and his online persona, as is expected these days. He rules Instagram with cheeky captions, giving just enough away to keep fans of @champagnepapi hooked and following for more. Whether he intended to or not (and I don’t doubt that he wanted to and enjoyed helping people, who doesn’t?), the stories of him buying shoppers’ groceries and giving money to college students on scholarships served as bite-sized ads in just another promotional campaign for his music. In shooting “God’s Plan,” Drake is helping people, and that ultimately helped him promote himself.
I have been thinking lately about how, on the internet, the line between using a product and marketing said product is blurred. This happens when you use Spotify and it pushes your listening activity to social channel, or when you go to a pop-up shop and Instagram it with a geolocation. You’re assisting in the promotion of whatever product you just used, simply because you shared it. The lead-up to Drake’s “God’s Plan” music video feels like that—except that he’s drumming up media attention for himself, instead of some other brand, wherever he goes.
At least the rapper seems aware of it—after the music video dropped, Drake posted an Instagram story challenging his followers to “just go out and do something for someone, anything,” but reiterated that he was not trying to create a viral meme, a la the Black Beatles challenge. “You don’t have to play the song in the background or have some hashtag this isn’t about streams and all the other tactics being used...just go be kind in any way that you can.”
That is very nice!