The Strange Case of Drake and 21 Savage’s Anti-Rollout Album Rollout

With a fake Vogue cover, fake NPR Tiny Desk and a fake Howard Stern interview, the duo have been promoting Her Loss by trolling traditional album promo. 

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21 Savage and Drake onstage at the Spelhouse Homecoming Concert at Forbes Arena at Morehouse College on October 19, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.Courtesy of Prince Williams/WireImage

At this stage of his career, Drake isn’t exactly the type to do a media blitz when he’s promoting new music, so it’s been a bit of a shock this week to see him and 21 Savage pop up on NPR’s Tiny Desk, Vogue, and The Howard Stern Show. If all these press appearances seem out of character, it’s because they’re fake.

Since announcing the release of their joint album, Her Loss, on October 22, Drake and 21 have been molding the media industry in their image—or rather, poking fun at the predictability of it all. It started with a Sunday Instagram post teasing that the duo would be on the next issue of Vogue, complete with a cover image and a caption thanking Anna Wintour for seeing their vision. However, fans noticed that the other stories touted on the cover were the same ones on Vogue’s already released October issue, which features Jennifer Lawrence. Sure enough, the next day there was no Vogue story online or on newsstands—just a fake zine being handed out in cities like Toronto and New York by street team members (real aughts-promo throwback!), which photoshopped the pair into parody ads for Cartier, and added 21’s signature face tattoos to Jennifer Lawrence and Hailey Bieber. (Drake’s newly-acquired face tat also appears on what looks like an outtake shot from Taylor Swift’s re-release of her album Red.)

It seemed like a bizarrely random troll from an artist whom most high-profile magazines would eagerly let grace their actual cover, but it ramped up into a full-on anti-rollout rollout last night when the pair fooled the internet again with an alleged teaser for an NPR Tiny Desk concert. A tweet from NPR Music quickly confirmed that there was, indeed, no real Drake-Savage episode scheduled (at least not yet); Drake had just meticulously recreated the NPR office performance space.

Next came another Vogue fakeout, with 21 participating in a faux episode of the publication’s “In The Bag,” in which he reveals essentials like an endless supply of tea and a copy of Cat in the Hat (it’s easily the funniest troll of the bunch). And finally (so far), the most bizarre and goofy stunt yet: a fake Howard Stern interview that pokes fun at everything from Drake’s reluctance to settle down to Savage’s British nationality to… Drake’s porn preferences. According to Billboard, the clips of Stern posing the duo questions was “part of a deepfake headfake.”

With the exception of an extensive interview with the Rap Radar podcast from Christmas 2019, an appearance on a friend’s interview show here, and a radio freestyle there, Drake has largely eschewed traditional media and promo over the last few years. On one hand, the Her Loss rollout pokes fun at the idea that these institutions need him more than the other way around. But on the other hand, faking a cover story, radio interview and performance seem like they’d take just as much or more effort as simply…doing them for real? In any event, the trolling seems to have paused for now: just a few hours after posting the Stern video on Wednesday, Drake unveiled the [actual] cover for the album.

Her Loss was initially due out on October 28, but the album was subsequently pushed to November 4 after producer Noah “40” Shebib was diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s 21’s first record since his 2020 Metro Boomin collaborative album Savage Mode II, but it marks another entry of many in a busy period for Drake: Her Loss is his third album since September 2021, and second this year. Her Loss looks to build on the success of Drake and 21’s previous tracks, including the chart-topping “Jimmy Cooks” from Honestly, Nevermind and top 10 hits “Mr. Right Now” and “Knife Talk.” Its impending release promises to have a seismic impact on pop music, big enough that other stars are switching release dates to move out of its way. With such a mischievous rollout in advance of the record, one can only hope some equally entertaining videos are set to follow.

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