It’s been 13 years since Drake burst onto the scene with his moody and eccentric EP So Far Gone. Shortly after that project started to gain steam, Lil Wayne, the best rapper in the world at the time, signed Drake, immediately took him along for his tour and punted him as the next big thing. This nod had the effect of validating Drake, enhancing his visibility and adding fuel to his fire.
Drake has since gone on to take over from his esteemed mentor, and establish himself as an even bigger global star than Lil Wayne.
Almost as if trying to replicate what Lil Wayne did for him, Drake has become the music industry's most potent co-sign over the past decade by lifting up several of the rap game's most influential artists. He gave early nods to the likes of Lil Baby, Migos, Lil Durk, The Weeknd and Wizkid. All are huge global stars today, and their trajectory can be traced back to their respective Drake collaborations.
In the days since the Canadian star posted a video of South African DJ sensation Uncle Waffles performing in his IG stories, social media has exploded with everyone and their mother sharing their views on what this moment actually means. Is it a co-sign? Does Drake want to get in her pants? Why is he so invested in this newcomer who barely anyone knew six months ago?
With Drake now being arguably the biggest artist in the world, many are in agreement that his is the most potent co-sign anyone in music could ask for, others feel it's useful but not that big a deal, and Slik Talk, naturally, thinks it means nothing at all.
A day after Drake mentioned her on his stories, Uncle Waffles had gained more than 50 000 Instagram followers and countless eyeballs across the globe. It goes without saying that Drake's co-sign holds weight; that's been proven countless times. But just how much weight does it hold in this regard is the question, and can this lead to a seismic impact in Waffles’s career?
Before we go there, let's discuss what a co-sign essentially is. In a 2019 article, Donna-Claire Chesman, managing editor at DJBooth, described it as follows, "a co-sign is everything from a retweet, to an IG post, to a feature. It is any act where one artist (or brand) is uplifting another artist (or brand)."
By this definition, Drake has definitely co-signed Uncle Waffles. And this was not her first brush with the Canadian superstar. Late last year, Drake famously followed her on IG after she first exploded onto the scene with her viral performance video at a show right here in Jozi. In March, he joined Waffles’s IG Live and called her a "top DJ". Have these previous co-signs changed anything? Yes. They had the effect of giving her an important stamp of approval and drew more attention her way.
Artists Drake’s size don’t just co-sign anyone because once they vouch for you, they are somewhat attached to whatever you do. Rapper Prodigy described this well for Billboard a few years ago. "That’s like sharing my fans with people, telling them, ‘check out this person, I think he’s dope’,'” he said.
“I’m not sending my fans to no fluke shit. Then (my fans) won’t trust me.”
While this is true, the actual golden ticket for an artist co-signed by Drake is a feature on one of his songs, or a collaboration. As evidenced by the likes of Lil Durk and Lil Baby, that is what counts most. Lil Wayne himself made a point of giving Drake several guest verses early on all those years ago to put that stamp of approval. That was the crowning moment. For this co-sign to be truly useful, Drake and Uncle Waffles need to do a song together. And with Waffles posting a video in studio that showed her recording some vocals singing a few hours after Drake’s post, she may well be readying herself for a career behind the mic and paving the way for that vital, vital Drake collaboration. That is what really matters.