Riff Rant: Drake, Keep Your Nike Deal to Yourself


drake-smallDuring his December 3 concert in Portland, OR, Toronto-based rapper Drake took to the stage to boast about a freshly signed partnership with Nike’s [Michael] Jordan brand. He might have performed some songs as well, but who the hell knows.

“Today also happens to be one of the best days of my life,” explained Drake to the crowd who resides in the city in which Nike has its headquarters. “You know, growing up, I’m sure we all idolized this guy – he goes by the name of Michael Jordan. So today, I came to Portland, Oregon and I officially became inducted into the Team Jordan family.”

Drake would later post a series of photos of shoes upon his Instagram account, essentially indicating that he’ll be designing shoes for the colossal athletic company.

At this time, I’m not going to rail against the rapper for penning what’s likely a very lucrative and intelligent business decision. It’s been a long, long time since musicians solely made money off of just their art. Bills need to be paid and music doesn’t sell the way it used to.

What I would like to bark about, however, is the time and place that Drake used to announce such an arrangement. When I got to a concert, I generally want to forget about the business side of the music industry. I want to forget that a pair of tickets cost the same amount as two weeks of groceries. I want to forget that for the amount I spent on two beers ahead of the show, I could’ve bought a 12 pack. I want to get to my spot, hear the songs I adore, and appreciate the spectacle that comes along with that.

What I don’t want is a rich musician coming up on stage and essentially bragging that he just got richer by signing this mega deal, with a mega brand, for what should be mega money. It’s fine to be excited and it’s tolerable to name drop an idol, but that’s what Twitter is for. Stages are for performing, not announcing corporate partnerships.

I’m sure Drake’s devotees absolved him by hooting and hollering about his latest conquest…or maybe they made much noise just to get him to shut up and get on with the show already. Who knows, I wasn’t there.

Sure, I’ve been to shows presented by big corporations that fill the venue with branding and incessant reminders of event sponsorship, which can also be rather annoying and shed a negative light on some of the performers involved.

However, I’ve never been to a concert where a band has gotten up on stage and said, “Hey everyone, we feel so blessed today because we just signed a deal that’ll see our new song featured prominently in a Ford advertising campaign. This is a dream come true.”

There’s a time and a place for everything and Drake seemed to forget that. Perform upon the stage my fellow Canuck and keep the boardroom braggery backstage.

Peace out.

-Adam Grant