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Would You Buy Designer Bags *Without* the Designer Label?

A designer-quality bag, without the exorbitant designer price? That’s the sexy premise of Italic, a direct-to-consumer brand that offers luxury pieces—think leather bags and jackets, cashmere, and eyewear—from the same factories that make products for companies like Celine, Givenchy, Gucci, Miu Miu, Burberry, and Prada. One key difference: None of Italic’s products will have those fancy designer labels. Genius idea? Or could they be ripping off some of the world’s most coveted brands?

Italic, which launched in November, requires a $120 annual membership, which the company says allows it to keep inventory relatively limited and the prices of its products low. (A designer-grade tote will cost you $250, versus four figures, for instance.) As of mid-January, they had more than 150,000 combined members and people on the waitlist, according to Jeremy Cai, the company’s founder. (He declined to share revenue or sales figures; when one of our testers tried to sign up for membership, she was accepted within about a day and the fee was waived because, the site said, she got in “early.”)

While the company’s website prominently displays the names of luxury brands it shares factories with, Cai says they absolutely do not make knock-offs. In other words, they may be able to stay out of the legal fray. (Luxury companies may still have a case if their trademarks are misused, or used in a way that creates confusion for customers, experts told Glamour.)

Italic’s handbag designs are classic, in terms of shape (lots of totes and bucket bags) and color (always-popular options like black, red, and cream; no prints or pastels yet). The company also offers bedding (from the same people that make sheets for the The Ritz-Carlton), and plan to roll out beauty and skin products (from the factories used by Dior and Chanel) soon. So the question is: How much is a luxury label worth to you?

What we’re looking for when we buy “luxury.”

I’d like to believe that what I crave most in luxury products is the quality—that investing several hundred dollars in a bag means I won’t need to replace it next season or could even one day pass it on to my next in kin. But if I’m honest, quality isn’t the only thing that appeals to me. I’ve been mulling over a vintage (or, at least, consignment) Chanel bag. It’s comically tiny and impractical, too precious and too flashy for my lifestyle, but I’ll catch myself absentmindedly scrolling on The Real Real, envisioning my fantasy self, wearing a matte fuschia lipstick and festooned in interlocking C’s. (My real self carries at least three tangled chargers and five half-empty face lotions in my tote on any given day.) The label on the bag is a big part of the fantasy.

In the real world, a labeled luxury purchase can also feel validating. “My entire outfit can be from Old Navy, but when it comes to my bags, I like the high end; I like the label,” says Erinn Blicher, a creative and business development lead for a PR and social media agency in New York. “It’s always been like an accomplishment—all my designer bags have been gifts to myself for certain milestone, so they mean something to me. The brand’s name, its lineage, and its place in fashion means something to me, too. I gotta say, wearing them makes me feel good.”

Utpal M. Dholakia, Ph.D., a marketing professor at Rice University, and author of How To Price Effectively, has extensively analyzed the impact pricing can have on a product. Though you decide how much you’re willing to spend on any given purchase, whether it’s a hand bag or a vacuum, brand name plays a role in your decision-making. That’s especially true on items that are highly visible. “Most people don’t buy luxury products in categories that are hidden,” he says. So luxury toilet paper is less likely to be a thing. “In more public categories, like cars or handbags,” he says, “People will spend more.”

A new, label-free trend is born.

The interest in logo-free brands isn’t just about cost (although, as we’ll explain in a sec, there is a surprising reason that’s part of it). It’s also about factors unique to our digitally-lead lives right now.

Shoppers want something unique. In this Instagram era, the ubiquitous style images we see influence how we all dress. “For me, fashion is much more about style than brand; it’s why I get more compliments on my Zara boots than my Isabel Marant ones,” says Lia Avellino, a therapist and director of a wellness club in New York. “Wearing a luxury brand like Gucci conveys more ‘status’ than ‘unique style’ to me.” For women like Avellino, style is about putting outfits together that are original, not buying a look that anyone else can have for the right price.

Marley Gibbons, a travel professional who lives in New York, also buys based on quality and overall look over labels. “I’d rather have something unique and made by a smaller brand than worry about what spending thousands more would ‘say’ about me,” she says. For example: Her best friend bought her Cuyana travel pouches as a gift a few years ago, and she adores them “because they’re nice but not a major, flashy label.”

For some women, being a walking billboard for a company—not matter how chic or esteemed it is—does not appeal. Allie Gross, a business reporter who lives in Detroit, doesn’t want a cookie cutter look. “I saved and bought a Mansur Gavriel purse a few years ago—I liked that the labeling was so small and almost unnoticeable,” she says. “But I actually don’t wear it often, because I feel like the actual bag has, in a way, become a label—it’s so ubiquitous, everyone knows what it is and that it’s a designer bag. I really wish I had spent the money instead on a not-so-known or recognizable bag.”

It’s easier than ever to assess the quality and value of a purchase, regardless of the name on the label. “In the past, a brand itself was the way to validate that,” says Kathy Gersch, EVP at consulting firm Kotter International and a former VP at Nordstrom. But in today’s marketplace, you can learn from reviews and customer opinions, and companies like Brandless are Everlane are more transparent about what goes into the cost of any given item, be it a beauty product, home cleaning supply, or your new favorite jeans. “Customers have access to more information than ever before,” says Julie Zerbo, founder of The Fashion Law. “And they are increasingly demanding more transparency.”

Prices keep climbing. The appeal of a Celine-quality bag for less doesn’t just have to do with label fatigue, it’s also about price. The cost of luxury products has grown faster than those in other fashion categories, more than twice the rate of general inflation in some instances. Some shoppers might reject this kind of “outrageous pricing”, according to Zerbo, but also not want to go to the other extreme of fast-fashion. That in-between is “an opportunity” for brand-free brands like Italic, she says.

Women want clothes that work for their hectic, busy lives. Another reason the “It Bag” may be an outdated concept: For those of us who really wear the hell out of our trustiest carryalls (I know I do), bags might not really be the “investment pieces” we once envisioned. What’s the point of spending a lot of money on something that’s too precious for the rigors of daily use? “I tend to use and abuse bags and wear them into the ground; they don’t last very long and it feels like a bad investment,” says Darryn Fitzgerald, a lawyer who lives in New York. “I would definitely be open to paying less for a high-quality bag.”

We’re entering a more understated style period. Fashion brands themselves are getting more spartan with their logos—many sporting all-caps, sans-serif typefaces, which are “designed not to stand out at all, but to blend in,” as Bloomberg described. The Fashion Law aptly dubbed it ‘blanding of branding,’, saying it too, is a result of the times we live in, as logos have to scale and be easily readable across multiple platforms.

Is this the end of the “It” bag?

Of course there are plenty of shoppers who still care about wearing designer-name pieces that are recognizable. As recently as the end of 2018, logo fashion still ranked high on industry trend lists (Gucci’s signature interlocking-G belt was “the hottest product” of 2018).

“Sales of designer branded luxury merchandise are driven in large part by emotion, so long as a brand is able to hit that nerve, it will be important,” says Jeffry Aronsson, founder of Aronsson Group and former CEO of Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karan, and Marc Jacobs. And even in this period of disruption, luxury goods are showing more consistent growth than other industries, he says. The brands that stay at the top are those that have been around a long time and whose executives are able to find the sweet spot between exclusivity and volume: “The more accessible and ubiquitous the brand, the less ‘special’ it might feel,” Aronsson says. “And a brand’s importance suffers without continual innovation and excitement around [their] product.”

And experts point out that just because a product is made in the same factory as a luxury brand, that doesn’t mean you get the same luxury quality. The materials and level of craftsmanship can vary, Aronsson says, hence the lower price point. (Cai says that Italic uses deadstock—i.e. leftover and unused materials and finishes—to create many of the products sold. Since there are massive quantities of deadstock that languish in factories until tossed out, this may appeal to eco-conscious shoppers.)

“Luxury brands have 200 years, and hundreds if not billions of dollars in marketing building up their brand,” Zerbo says. “Culturally, so many people are buying that logo.” And unlike a bag with a designer logo, a label-free luxury product isn’t necessarily seen as an investment. “People who are going to buy brandless luxury are buying for functional value—they’re going to use the product,” Utpal says. “They’re going to put it on from the first day they receive it in the mail. These are different customers.” Dholakia agrees: “How many people are interested in an expensive product because of its quality, versus because of the cache associated with that brand? You’re going to have both types of people.”

And Uptal believes this new kind of label-less luxury isn’t necessarily a replacement for brand-name luxury—rather, it could be a stepping stone for shoppers. “It’s an entry point for many consumers to discovering really high quality products,” he says. “Once you’ve discovered high quality products and have disposable income, you will likely graduate to luxury product.” Longterm, Utpal continues, “this could have a positive impact on luxury brands. This is all good for the Hermès of world.” And more choices—at more price points—is a win for consumers, too.

Alexandra Ilyashov is a writer and editor based in New York.

Daniel Radcliffe Laughs Off Those Wolverine Rumors

Daniel Radcliffe has had a fascinating acting career, obviously kickstarted with playing the title role of the Harry Potter series. Since then, the 29 year-old actor has made a name for himself by taking challenging projects like Swiss Army Man, Horns, and his new TV series Miracle Workers. While he’s consciously worked to distance himself from the Boy Who Lived, there’s another famous character fans have been hoping he’d take on: X-Men icon Wolverine.

Hugh Jackman hung up the claws for good with James Mangold’s Logan, leaving the character up for grabs. And with Disney and Fox’s merger coming ever closer, the odds of a replacement Wolverine seems all the more likely. But Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t seem to be taking rumors and theories about playing the mutant very seriously. As he recently explained:

Well, that seems pretty clear. Daniel Radcliffe isn’t actually serious about playing Wolverine, although he does seem amused by how quickly the internet has rallied behind the possibility. Sorry, bub.

Daniel Radcliffe’s comments to IGN will likely elicit a mixture of reactions from fans of both Harry Potter and the X-Men. Potterheads would no doubt jump at the chance to see Radcliffe star is another major film franchise, especially one where he gets to go toe-to-toe with some more bad guys in the process. He’s also made a name for himself as an adult actor, so the timing seems right for him to take on another iconic role.

But there are also some X-Men fans who took umbrage with this choice. Daniel Radcliffe is decidedly different in stature and attitude as Hugh Jackman, so there would be a noticeable juxtaposition between the two actors. The Harry Potter alum made a joke about his height, as he stands at just 5’5, compared to Jackman’s hulking 6’2. Of course, hardcore comic fans will know that Wolverine is supposed to be a short and stocky guy, usually coming in at just 5’3. So if anything, Radcliffe’s stature would only help bring a more comic-authentic look to the character.

Alas, Daniel Radcliffe doesn’t actually seem interested in playing Wolverine, so all the discussion and awesome fan art is all for naught. Still, it should be fascinating to see what happens to Wolverine, especially as the mutants prepare to finally crossover in the MCU.

The next X-Men flick will be Dark Phoenix on June 7th, and you can watch Daniel Radcliffe in Miracle Workers Tuesdays on TBS. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Ciara Wants You To Enjoy Valentine’s Day With Her New Anthem ‘Greatest Love’

Ciara‘s much-adored relationship with Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson is the kind of romantic entanglement that the average person, single, dating, or “it’s complicated,” idolizes on the eve of this Valentine’s Day. Although we can’t all have this exact blueprint of love, Ciara has decided to gift us some of that energy with the release of her new single, “Greatest Love” along with its accompanying video. Take in the Valentine’s Day air below.

Ciara can do so much without expensive CGI shots and cringe storylines. “Greatest Love” is another showcase of her superhuman body control, sensual movements, and sharp aesthetic choices. The visual is a collection of simple color backdrops – blood red, denim blue, eclipse black – that features Ciara’s signature swift routines. She slashes her hips left and right while her skin’s illuminated by blinding lights, sways her shoulders back and forth with a jacket dangling from her shoulders as rapidly flickering lights brighten up the dark scene, and slowly rotates in a pitch black room illuminated by the glitter of her garb.

While her movements work to keep the gaze locked, her vocals massage the inner eardrums as she spins a web of thankfulness for her lover. The lyrics are personal too, taking the listener along on her journey, enabling those following to transition some of this appreciation to the one that they’re thankful for, or who they will be in the future. “I should’ve known when you took my son as your own/I ain’t saying I ain’t like all the carats and the stone/It’s just your love that I want,” she sings earnestly. It’s heartwarming, adorable, and, somewhat, tear-jerking if we’re being honest.

Ciara’s “Greatest Love” follows last year’s “Dose” and “Level Up,” with the latter receiving a remix featuring Fatman Scoop and Missy Elliott. The singer told ABC last year that she was preparing a new album. Let’s hope that it’s around the corner.

Apparently The Frozen 2 Poster Contains Some Major Clues

Frozen 2 is the next Avengers movie, complete with its own version of Infinity Stones, cryptic clues, and random fan speculation on what it all means! The first teaser trailer for Frozen 2 just came out, and fans immediately went into analysis mode. Disney also released the official poster at the same time, with the entire image being a giant snowflake. Fans noticed the four different symbols, and Josh Gad (Olaf) helpfully — albeit somewhat jokingly — pointed to the poster as a source of clues:

First of all, it looks like you can match one of those symbols with a shot in the trailer where Anna sees the gorgeous crystals falling from the sky:

Those crystals appear to all be using the symbol in the bottom left of the poster. Some fans are speculating that the Frozen 2 story may have something to do with the four seasons, represented by the four symbols. This fan suggests that the other seasons have their own princesses, or queens/rules, like Elsa for winter:

This next fan is basically on the same page — it may be the wrong page, for all we know, but right now the theory I’m willing to back does surround the seasons. After all, the trailer makes the point of including autumn leaves falling, so it’s already emphasizing other seasons. (And we know Olaf is looking forward to suuuuuummmeeeerrrr.)

The season idea could fit with the shots in the trailer of autumn leaves, including this epic team view:

Someone is going to make a pumpkin spice latté joke about that autumn scene, just wait for it.

Speaking of Olaf and summer, though, what if it’s that kind of summer heat — the power of fire vs. the power of ice — that threatens Olaf in this shot, and that’s why Elsa is working her frozen magic to protect him?

If we have a fire vs. ice battle, maybe we can add Game of Thrones to the list of pop culture references.

So, if we go with the seasons theory, what does any of that mean for the four symbols on the poster? Is Queen Elsa’s power of winter symbol the one that’s falling by Anna in the trailer, or would that be something else?

And why does the super intense first teaser have Elsa going full Moana/Aquaman on a dark beach at the beginning? Was she stuck in, say, the summer land and she’s trying to get out? Obviously that’s pure speculation, so feel free to laugh it off.

The fun part is that Disney has already given Frozen fans a lot to think about, rather than just giving us a cute funny trailer and a cute funny poster showing our favorite characters. It’s been almost six years since the first movie came out, but the Frozen team has still been prominent in short films, merchandise, video games, theme park attractions, songs, etc. It’s not like we’ve had a chance to miss the characters, so the stakes were pretty high to give fans something new and different. So far, this qualifies.

Frozen 2 is opening in theaters November 22, and there’s still a lot of mystery about the plot. We do know that Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown were announced as joining the cast, so we’ll have to see how their characters fit into the story.

Frozen 2 is just one of many, many Disney movies coming out in 2019, and based on the first stunning but surprising trailer, we’re more into it than ever. Keep up on all of the new releases ahead with our 2019 movie schedule.

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Cardi B’s Grammy Win Backlash, Fully Explained

The Grammys should’ve been a celebratory time for Cardi B, who became the first solo female artist to win Best Rap Album for her critically-acclaimed debut Invasion of Privacy. But this moment has since been clouded with controversy. It didn’t take long for haters to come out of the woodwork and say Cardi B’s award wasn’t well-deserved. This led to the “Bodak Yellow” performer herself taking to Instagram to defend herself before ultimately deactivating her account. Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, and Lady Gaga’s names have popped up in this situation, too. It’s out of control—and heartbreaking because this is Cardi B‘s first Grammy. Her win is well-deserved, full stop.

Below, here’s a complete timeline of Cardi B’s Grammy backlash, starting with her acceptance speech.

Cardi B wins the Grammy for Best Rap Album. She was visibly shocked and moved while accepting the award, at one point joking, “The nerves are so bad. Maybe I need to start smoking weed.”

Ariana Grande tweets her reactions. Eagle-eye fans screen-grabbed a series of messages Grande tweeted (then deleted) about her ex-boyfriend, the late Mac Miller, losing Best Rap Album to Cardi B. “Literal bullshit,” “fuck,” and “trash,” Grande wrote in three separate tweets. But they had nothing to do with Cardi B: She was upset the Grammys invited Miller’s parents to attend the ceremony and he didn’t even win. “Nothing to do with [Cardi B] Good for her. I promise. I’m sorry,” Grande tweeted, according to People. She then added, “She’s not at all [trash] and that’s not what I meant and you know that.”

MTV reports that backstage at the Grammys, Cardi B said, “You wanna know something? I read an article that Mac Miller’s family said that if he don’t win, they wanted me to win, so I’m sharing this Grammy with you.”

The haters roll in criticizing Cardi B’s historic win. So much so that Cardi B hops on Instagram to check them. “Slept in the studio on leather sofas for three months straight,” she wrote before addressing the people who said she was “stupid” for having a baby so early in her career. Read her full response, below:

Nicki Minaj somehow gets involved. The two women have a historic feud, but Minaj was unnecessarily brought into this situation thanks to an ill-advised BET tweet. Shortly after Cardi B won her Grammy, the network tweeted, “Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj is being dragged by her lacefront.” The incident caused Minaj to pull out of the BET Experience festival, where Cardi B is also slated to perform.

Cardi B takes to Instagram—again. She seemingly acknowledged the Minaj situation by saying, “It’s not my style for people to put other people down to uplift somebody else,” before addressing her haters head-on. “I’ve been taking a lot of bullshit today,” she said. “I saw a lot of bullshit last night and I’m sick of this shit. I remember last year when I didn’t win for ‘Bodak Yellow,’ everybody was like, ‘Cardi got snubbed, Cardi got snubbed.’ Now this year. it’s a fucking problem?” Shortly after this, she deleted her Instagram account.

Lady Gaga comes to Cardi B’s defense. Mother Monster, whom Cardi is a longtime fan of, took to Twitter and implored fans to “celebrate” the rapper’s fight. “It is so hard to be a woman in this industry,” Gaga tweeted. “What it takes, how hard we work through the disrespectful challenges, just to make art. I love you Cardi. You deserve your awards. Let’s celebrate her fight. Lift her up & honor her. She is brave.”

The 30 Best Oscars Hairstyles Ever

We were thrilled when Moonlight won Best Picture and love a meme-able moment like Meryl Streep whooping from the audience, but the red carpet will always hold a special place in our hearts. There’s nothing better than a solid six weeks of Hollywood’s finest showing off their most elaborate looks. While the Golden Globes and Grammys have their own shining moments (typically the attendees have a little more fun with their looks), the Oscars are arguably the crowning jewel of awards shows. It’s where stars and their glam squads pull out all the stops, from their gowns to their hairstyles.

From flowing waves to intricate braids and dazzling headbands, the Oscars have brought us some of the most iconic hair looks over the past 50 years. Weather you’re looking for hair inspo or just getting in the mood for the 2019 ceremony, we got you covered. We’ll go ahead and start writing our acceptance speech for finding some of the greatest Oscars hairstyles ever.

Frozen 2 Trailer Is Epic And Everything We Were Waiting For

The trailer is strangely tense, showing that Frozen II may not be a movie that’s quite for the faint of heart. It opens with Elsa alone on a black sand beach trying to fight the waves. She’s meeting with limited success. Why she’s fighting the currant is unclear, but the music and the look on her face make it clear that this is serious business.

Not a word is spoken by any of the characters so nothing that we see is put into context, but the word “epic” certainly comes to mind. This feels like it’s going to be an epic adventure for Anna, Elsa, and the rest, and I am here for it. The use of the song “Vuelie” from the first movie, though in a new arrangement with a different chorus, is perfect, as it reminds us of the original film while also making it clear this one will be something new and different. 

I’m not sure quite what I was expecting out of Frozen II, though some snowman jokes and some nice music was probably on the list. While I’m sure the final film will provide just that, the trailer goes in an entirely different direction. In the final seconds Anna draws a weapon and swings at something off screen. That’s not exactly the Anna we knew from the first film. Things have changed in Arendelle, assuming, of course, that’s even where they are. We see our crew of heroes looking over a city but it’s not obvious where it is , or if they’re arriving or leaving.

A new poster was also released along with the new trailer. It looks to be a simple snowflake, though it also has similar symbols inside it as the crystals that we Anna looking at in the trailer. She’s clearly distressed by them, meaning they are likely at the center of the film’s conflict.

Drake Thanks Kanye West Ahead Of ‘So Far Gone’ Streaming Release

For the last decade, Drake‘s name has been synonymous with not only hip-hop, but pop culture. The Canadian rapper has five platinum albums under his belt and continues to, somehow, grow larger each day. Drizzy’s success can be traced back to So Far Gone, his 2009 breakout mixtape that has remained a highlight of the blog era. It turns 10 today, and with a reflective and celebratory Instagram post from its creator comes a nice surprise; tomorrow, So Far Gone will be available to download on all streaming services. With the announcement, he also gave praise to some of the people responsible for its creation, and of them was Kanye West, his current (or previous) archenemy.

Drake went long on his breakout project this morning on Instagram, posting its infamous cover in all of its nostalgic splendor. The Toronto crooner’s accompanying thank you note reads like a walk down memory lane. He fondly reflects on Boi-1da’s early producer career (“a decade ago you were in a basement with pink insulation walls figuring out fruity loops”), Trey Songz‘s ability to see Drake’s potential (“a decade ago you were the first person to recognize potential and give me a co-sign’), and Lil Wayne for giving him the chance of a lifetime (“a decade ago you took me out of Toronto and gave me the biggest blessing anybody has ever given me”) among 12 other important contributors.

Of all of the words allocated to those that helped So Far Gone become what it was, Drake’s note to Kanye West was the longest. “A decade ago I rapped over your beat cause you just made the best shit and even though you stay wildin on twitter these days I will never forget what you contributed to the game and my career,” the caption reads.

The “wildin” that Drake’s referring to is probably Kanye’s December Twitter tweetstorm when he exposed Drake for attempting to get “Say What’s Real” – A song that appears on So Far Gone that re-uses the beat for “Say You Will” from Kanye’s 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak – cleared and then followed with demands for an apology. Drake’s not entirely innocent in the situation either; Kanye claimed in the rant that Drake was “threatening” him, and on recent songs like “No Stylist” and “Duppy (Freestyle),” the rapper did drop some sly lines at Mr. West.

But both of these songs were released last year and Drake could very well be over their on-and-off feud. He took home the award for Best Rap Song at the 61st Grammy Awards (for “God’s Plan“) and gave a stirring speech about how unimportant the trophy was, saying, “You’ve already won if you have people who are singing your songs word for word.” He’s also planning to embark on a European tour with Tory Lanez, another former rival, in March. As Drizzy moves full steam ahead, let’s look to So Far Gone tomorrow to reminisce.

Drake Found A Signature Sound On So Far Gone — Here’s How It’s Evolved

By Marcus Blackwell

So what I tend to do is think of today as the past
It’s funny when you coming in first, but you hope that you last
You just hope that it lasts

On the 10-year anniversary of his critically-acclaimed 2009 mixtape So Far Gone, the closing words from a 22-year-old Drake on “Lust for Life” have indeed become a reality. Drake has not simply “lasted” but has been consistently one of the most dominant musical acts over the past decade — just check the charts.

His ability to transcend genres and continually grow his fanbase has placed him in a unique position as an MC. The signature slow-paced, atmospheric, and melodic sound he built with in-house producer Noah “40” Shebib (heard on early songs like “The Calm,” “Brand New,” and “The Resistance”) is still very much thriving today, but it’s been Drizzy’s ability to maneuver into diverse musical spaces over the years that has aided in his strategic efforts to maintain his top position.

On the 10th anniversary of what was a career-catapulting mixtape, we trace and highlight the most calculated and standout moments in Drake’s sonic evolution.

Fortifying His Signature Sound (2010-2013)

Not long after the So Far Gone mixtape hit the ‘net on February 13, 2009, Drake inked a deal with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment under the legendary Cash Money Records. As the new kid on the block, his career took off, propelled by that trademark airy sound. It’s a sonic mood that resulted from the R&B that first brought Drake and 40 together, as the producer told GQ in 2011. Shortly after, they created “Houstatlantavegas” in the studio and “that abstract world we were taking rap music to” was born.

From the time of his debut album Thank Me Later in 2010 to 2013’s Nothing Was the Same, Drake found comfort in that world, and it was easily identifiable; you hear it on essential singles like “Headlines,” “Marvin’s Room,” and “Started From the Bottom,” effectively showcasing his artistic range and taste.

“A lot of people pick their single by what’s the strongest song. I don’t really do that,” Drake told Billboard‘s The Juice in 2011. “I like to make sure that the content is very relevant to right now. I want people to party to it but at the same time the fans, the people that care about my career, the people that follow me, will hear a message in it.”

Following the release of Drake’s third album, the scope of hip-hop was beginning to shift. In late 2014, Migos were bubbling with anthemic trap cuts like “Fight Night” and “Handsome and Wealthy,” while Future had the streets on lock with a flurry of records complemented by radio hits like “Fuck Up Some Commas.” This generation of Atlanta’s distinct, high-energy trap sound was starting to take over the mainstream.

The era’s early elites like J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake himself were no longer the fresh faces of the industry. After five-plus years in the game as an top-tier act, Drake had to make some tactical adjustments to his musical direction.

Experimenting With Trap (2015)

When discussing 2015’s year in hip-hop, two things that will eventually enter the conversation are Drake’s surprise mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and Future’s legendary mixtape run that eventually led to their joint project, What a Time to Be Alive.

A heavy, welldocumented critique from Drake fans who have more of an affinity for his prototypical rap cuts is that his albums tend to be overly drenched in R&B or “sing-songy” records. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late was Drake’s opportunity to strategically showcase that he not only could pump out the easy-listening hits fans were accustomed to (think “Hold On, We’re Going Home”), but that he could also take on the sound that was holding down the streets.

“I always wanted to make a project with [producer] Boi-1da, just like exclusively his brand of music… like just hard shit, just snap as much as I could and get as many joints done as I could,” Drake told Beats 1 Radio in 2016. Drake adopted this heavily trap-influenced style all through 2015 — and it worked. Records like “Know Yourself” and “6 God” were strong renditions of the bubbling Atlanta-based sound, and the project was well-received by fans and critics alike. A track like “Energy” set the stage for Drake to get into a braggadocios bag and rap with a more aggressive delivery than what fans typically heard from the Canadian rapper.

The victory lap of What a Time to Be Alive found its massive moment, too, and propelled St. Louis producer Metro Boomin into stardom via a few undeniable records like “Jumpman” and “Big Rings,” and set up the record-breaking Summer Sixteen Tour the following year.

Dipping Into Dancehall (2016-2017)

In January 2016, Rihanna dropped “Work,” featuring Drake, as the lead single to her eighth studio album, Anti. The record’s blend of reggae, pop, and dancehall — a Jamaican sound that Rolling Stone called a “sleeker, rowdier descendent” of reggae that incorporates more electronic sounds and rhythms — made it an instant smash. Looking at the wide audience and international success that “Work” and Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” garnered as No. 1 songs in multiple countries, it made a lot of sense for Drake to step into that lane. He’d already flirted with the idea of doing more dancehall-leaning tracks with “Find Your Love” back in 2010.

This strategic experimentation eventually earned Drizzy his first Billboard No. 1 record as a lead artist with the Afrobeat, dancehall-influenced hit “One Dance” later that year. In a sit-down with DJ Semtex, Drake spoke proudly about the influence U.K. singer Kyla’s “Do You Mind” had on the record. (He enlisted her for “One Dance” as well.) “I love that tempo, that cadence, and those melodies,” the rapper said. “That’s the kind of music that makes me happy in life. It was great to be able to make something like that and to shine a light on a song from the U.K. that deserves it.”

He built upon these international sounds throughout 2016 on his fourth album, Views, and his “playlist” More Life in 2017 with tracks like “Controlla,” “Passionfruit,” “Blem,” and “Madiba Riddim.” He flexed his versatility in his rhymes, too; on the loosie “Two Birds, One Stone,” he declared, “I rap like I know I’m the greatest and still give you tropical flavors / Still never been on hiatus.”

New Orleans Bounce And Beyond (2018)

Despite the mixed reception of Drake’s fifth album, Scorpion, 2018 can be argued as Drake’s most impressive year, in great part due to the strength of his singles. “God’s Plan,” “Nice for What,” and “In My Feelings” all hit No. 1, giving him a career total of six chart-topping hits. Two of these were exercises in Bounce, a high-energy southern style of music rooted and based out of the eclectic culture of New Orleans. It had previously been immortalized on Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” in 1998 and personified by the N.O. legend Big Freedia, who features at the beginning of “Nice for What.” Drake attempted to pay homage to the sound back in 2011 on Take Care’s “Practice” and more recently on Views’ “Child’s Play,” but there seemed to be a lack of precision in his execution.

With “Nice for What,” Drake was able to successfully tap into and uplift a Bounce style that was under-appreciated by the mainstream. With Big Freedia’s vocals on the backdrop of an upbeat Lauryn Hill-sampled banger, Drake knocked it out the park with another feel-good No. 1 record. It was only right that months later, “In My Feelings,” a song in the same vein, would take the country by storm. By sampling “Smoking Gun” by Magnolia Shorty and sprinkling in vocals from the City Girls and Lil Wayne, it captured an authentic southern New Orleans vibe. Shiggy’s Kiki Challenge also gave the song an additional boost, propelling it from mere hit song to cultural moment.

A decade after So Far Gone, Drake’s story is still being told through his public successes and fallouts, while being detailed through his deep-cuts and mainstream smashes. But what musical territory will Drake venture into next?

Was his Spanish-language hit “Mia” with Bad Bunny a preview of a future run in the Latin-trap scene? Will he continue to build upon the chemistry he and Memphis producer Tay Keith showcased on hard-hitting records like “Nonstop” and “Sicko Mode?” Only time will tell, but coming off of a 2018 campaign where he explored a range of different musical styles to relentlessly dominate the charts, fans will be undoubtedly be locked into wherever Drizzy takes them next.