Like all good friends of Beyonce, Drake treasures the element of surprise. He’s been known to drop a whole mixtape on the fandom with little more than small hints as notice. So when word came across Twitter yesterday of a Drake-related pop-up shop in lower Manhattan, the response was fast and dense. Within an hour of the announcement, the unassuming Chinatown street promised to house the shop was beset by fans quietly queued up to see what the abruptly announced Beats x Views Bowery storefront would have to offer.
Early whispers in the line anticipated a possible appearance from the rapper himself, and though nothing of the sort was promised, a quiet frenzy arose at the front of the line as the promised 4pm unveiling approached. Traffic laws went up in smoke as a swell of onlookers at the front of the line ballooned out into two lanes of street traffic. Further back in the line, a group of enthusiastic high schoolers matched the traditional Chinese music filling the air on the street with a Drake-based karaoke party. Recent cuts including the Rihanna collaboration “Work” and the Views from the 6 singles “Pop Style” and “One Dance” kept the line lively as speculation persisted as to what everyone was in line for.
The hindered business of the street coupled with the intoxicating mix of anticipation and secrecy caused some event staff to drop the air of mystery. Drake was likely not in town, or at least, certainly not set to appear. The Bowery pop-up wasn't selling anything so much as giving away a free Views t-shirt compliments of OVO. That, alongside the dull, persistent spring heat seemed to calm the line, and by the time the space finally opened, fashionably late, the expeditious, machine-like precision of the team inside 135 Bowery proved a blessing. By 5pm, the line wrapped around three whole sides of the block, but time rewarded the patient.
Inside was a white room adorned with a tandem Views and Beats logo and little else. Everyone got a shirt, but the color was up to staff. Some got the darkly cartoonish Views logo in white on a black shirt, and others received the inverse, in keeping with the white-on-black, black-on-white artwork of “One Dance” and “Pop Style.” There appeared to be signed Beats headphones on site, but the speedy, snaking, stanchioned line didn’t allot much time to gawk. The music in the room matched the Toronto rapper's growing taste for grime.
Though the Drake event seemed to take cues from Kanye’s stark, stylish Lower Manhattan Life of Pablo pop-up store from a few weeks prior, crucial differences stuck out. The abruptness of the announcement—2pm reveal of a 4pm open—kept the street fashion utilitarian. No one had time to dress to impress, and it gave the proceeding a more populist feel than the Supreme-splashed Pablo spectacle, which was as much about being there as being seen being there. It’s possible Drake just pulls a different crowd. Subtle quirks aside, the throngs of teens clogging the area with tiny white Views shopping bags suggested success. If you live somewhere outside of the five boroughs, trust in your friendly neighborhood streetwear reseller.
Craig wants Views to crush his face but he's got trust issues. Follow him on Twitter.