Frank Underwood Fixes Five Rap Careers: Kanye West
By Keith Nelson (@JusAire) Editor-In-Chief
*This Five-part series will use quotes and scenarios from House of Cards' Season 3 to help five hip hop artists in need of saving.*
SPOILERS OF HOUSE OF CARDS' SEASON 3 WILL BE INCLUDED BELOW
"I think that progression of mind with the advent of a human being named Drake (laughs, smirks, crowd laughs) you know, this idea of holding onto a number 1 spot. And then you get this guy that comes and blows out the water every number 1 of any band ever. Be it me, or Paul McCartney [laughs]"-Kanye West at Oxford University on March 2nd, 2015
Kanye West's popularity has hit all-time lows in then five and a half years since his exile-inducing incident with Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. Keep in mind, this is a man who spent over two months straight at the top of the Billboard Top 100 singles with his song "Gold Digger" a decade ago; his descent is the peak for most rappers. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was one of the greatest comeback albums ever but Yeezus was his lowest selling album and took three times as long to go platinum as any of his other six solo albums. When you're planning to make the world's first trillion dollar company you need a foundation of constant success.
Coinciding with his commercial descent is the rise of an artist whom Ye has accused of stealing his sound and whom has admitted as much. Drake's entire mixtape/album/get-out-of-Cash-Money-Free-card If You're Reading This, It's Too Late charted on Billboard while Kanye's first ever collaboration with Paul McCartney ("Only One") is #35 on the Top 100, nine spots below Drake's "Energy", which was never officially released as a single. They're both two artists who derive courage from their vulnerability, harmonize obscene lyrics and have a penchant for turning relatability of daily minutia into a rap career (HURRY UP WITH MY DAMN CROISSANTS!). They can both drive in the same lane, but one will invariably have to be behind the other.
Google Trends tracks how often a term is searched on Google, its accompanying outlets(Google News, YouTube, etc) and is by no means a definitive measure of popularity. But with over 3.5 billion Google searches a day and 40 percent of the world using the internet, it's a pretty reliable sample size of the world. Google Trends does not give an absolute value of how many searches are done but a range from 0-100 based on how near the highest point of search activity in a given time period a point in time reaches. For example, if you track Drake searches on Google Trends from 2005 until January 2015, the highest point of search activity was November 2011 when he released his highest selling album Take Care. However, once you add Kanye West into the search, the highest point of search activity between the two artists is September 2009 when Kanye took Taylor Swift's shine. Drake's November 2011 then becomes a 73 rating, meaning Drake's highest volume of search activity is less than 3/4th the size of Kanye West's highest point of search activity.
The above graph should frighten Kanye into an epiphany. For most of the first two months of 2015, interest in Drake and Kanye has either been equal or Drake surpassing his predecessor, even with Kanye releasing "Only One" with Paul McCartney and was featured on Rihanna's "FourFiveSeconds" also with Sir McCartney over a month before Drake released his first piece of music in 2015. The only time interest in Kanye West surpassed Drake's was from February 8th-14th when Kanye released his highly anticipated adidas collaboration, held a fashion show and questioned Beck's artistry at the Grammy's. The following week of Feb 15th-21st, Kanye West's popularity dropped from a 100 to 46, while Drake's remained relatively consistent from a 56 to a 53. This implies that Drake's popularity is more tied to his musical output than Kanye's.
Kanye West is like Kobe Bryant. He will not be satisfied with putting out music if he is not at least in the discussion of the elite rappers.
"We can't change the laws of physics, can we? I was wrong. It's too hard. Fighting the leadership, raising money. We can't get them to do what they're dead set against doing. We'd need six months just to get them back to square one. We have to reverse our thinking. When the wind's blowing at gale force, there's no point in sailing against it."-Frank Underwood in House of Cards Season 3, Episode 2
If Kanye West was a politician whom was murderous, ambiguously gay and had a 30 year god complex emboldened by white privilege then he would be House of Cards' President of the United States, Francis J. Underwood. They are one in the same. Ambitious men whom mask their megalomania as ardent leadership. In Season 3, Underwood faces off against his own Drake in the form of Russian President Victor Petrov, a staunchly nationalistic recent divorcee who is as likely to kiss the First Lady in front of the President (OVO Putin?) as he is to prosecute a man over gay rights laws he does not personally agree with. A man whom for all intents and purposes is Underwood's equal, a fact Underwood implicitly acknowledges.
In Season 3, Underwood attempts to get U.S. troops into the Jordan Valley in the Middle East through the Trojan Horse of a peace agreement between Israel, Palenstine, the U.S. and Russia. The peace agreement would put thousand of U.S troops very close to the Russian border and after Pekhov agreed to the peace agreement through some tragic political coercio, Russian soldiers were attacked in the area and Russia blocked anyone from investigating the crash site. This incited suspicions of Russia killing their own to show the ineffectiveness of a peace agreement they never wanted. Underwood appointed his wife, Claire Underwood to be the American Ambassador to the United Nations. After Claire relayed seemingly reliable intel of Russia's attacks on their own from Alexi Moryakov, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations, President Underwood foolishly sent a covert operation of troops into the Jordan Valley to investigate, which led to them being ambushed and Russian controlling the narrative as a result.
Underwood would advise Kanye West to not fight against the winds of public perception and accept Drake as superior in order to plot a takeover. Continue this proverbial peace agreement with Drake the two began in August 2013 when Kanye surprisingly performed at Drake's OVO Fest. Do a favor for a favor in terms of appearing on each other's respective albums. But, when Drake appears on Kanye's album, Underwood would advise he slit his motherfucken throat..or, you know, destroy him on the song. Even if it means taking a page from LL Cool J's "4, 3, 2, 1" playbook and rerecording a more scathing verse after Drake's laid his down. Kanye needs to announce his supremacy in rap on the world's stage next to the biggest rapper in the game. Ride his coattails until you can hang him from the olive branch you extended. These two have no trouble volleying subliminals, before and during the peace agreement:
"I'm just feeling like the throne is for the taking... watch me take it."-Drake on "I'm On One" (2011)
"I adopted these niggas, Phillip Drummond them/Now I’m about to make them tuck their whole summer in"-Kanye West on "Otis" (2011)
I could give two fucks 'bout where the Grammys go/ I just gave out Grammys on my Instagram-Drake on "Blessings" (2015)
"They've been lookin' at the Gram I've been lookin' at the Grammys/Like, woo, that's us right now"-Kanye West on "All Day" (2015)
"I got a backyard where money seems to come from the trees And I'm never ever scared to get some blood on my leaves"-Drake on "6PM in New York" (2015)
After the collaboration and the seed of "is Kanye better than Drake" has been planted, Underwood would advise Kanye to keep reminding fans that he was the one who has been reaching out to Drake to do a collaboration album. When interviewers begin asking what is delaying the album, slyly transfer the blame to Drake's avoidance. Frank Underwood did this to the Russian President during a press conference where he informed the world that Russia was not interested in peace when he proposed a plan.
In Season 3 of House of Cards, Russian President Petrov agrees to remove Russian troops from the Jordan Valley under one non-negotiable condition: Frank Underwood fires his wife as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Underwood realizes how his wife's influence has deleteriously affected his political decisions and removes her from her position. Underwood would advise Kanye West to disregard any affiliation he may have with a Drake enemy and unify in support of the larger goal. He admitted on The Breakfast Club in February him and Pusha T had a disagreement over Kanye's appearance at Drake's OVO Fest in 2013 after Pusha has waved the "fuck Drake" flag proudly for years prior and since. So, it shouldn't be a surprise that Kanye is willing to do a joint album with the man who said Jay Z "can't drop bars these days without at least four art references" after Jay Z told the world he would not do another joint album unless it's with Kanye.
Kanye should listen to Frank Underwood and build a fortress out of the cards he is dealt and plan the proper attack.