TAKE #10: Why Didn’t Drake Sign Johnny Rain? Where Is Johnny Rain???

I’ll start this off with a disclaimer. I DON’T LIKE DRAKE. I did at one point, which is why I’m writing this, but as of now, I’m not a Drake fan. LOL I just needed to get that off my chest.

A couple of days ago I started randomly thinking about Johnny Rain. You’ve probably never heard about him, but he’s a singer from California, who I just realized has the same birthday as me!!! He started coming into the music scene around 2013. At that time, I was listening really heavily to The Weeknd’s music and was starting to get into JMSN. So naturally, I wanted to listen to someone else who had a similar vibe, and Johnny Rain was a close match. He was a little bit more on the soul side, but his dark R&Pop reminded me very heavily of The Weeknd’s music.

I remember sharing some of his music with one of my friends with the time who I used to talk about music a lot with. We both liked the same stuff, so if I heard about someone new, I’d run them by him to see if he also liked it. Johnny Rain was a quick favorite for both of us. One day, my friend came into our World History class and told me that he tweeted Drake and asked why he hadn’t signed Johnny Rain yet, and Johnny Rain liked the tweet. Or maybe he said that he tweeted @ Johnny Rain and said Drake should sign him. Either way, the message was that Johnny belonged on OVO. I thought about that conversation a lot a couple days ago, and started to wonder: why didn’t Drake sign Johnny Rain?

I mean there’s a couple of pretty clear potential answers. 1) Drake very much could have not heard about Johnny Rain, 2) Johnny Rain could have been approached by Drake but didn’t want to sign him (which I don’t think was the case because we never heard about the two of them being together), and 3) Drake was trying to hang on to OVO as being a Toronto/Canada thing and didn’t want someone who wasn’t from there.

Johnny Rain doesn’t have the best voice, but his music is very good. I haven’t heard the more recent stuff, but 11 (2015) is a really great project that I still revisit. There’s a couple of songs – “Master of Disguise, “New Religion,” and “Harveston Lake” – that I think do a good job of showing what kind of artist Johnny Rain was. He can give us dark and slow, but he can also give us pop. The project, for me, gives off a mix of Drake’s Take Care (2011), PARTYNEXTDOOR’s PARTYNEXTDOOR (2013), The Weeknd’s Trilogy (2012). And honestly, with the right time and investment put into developing his sound and voice a little bit more, he could have been a solid mainstream artist. So even if Drake didn’t sign him, Johnny deserved more mainstream recognition.

But honestly, because those albums came out around the same time, including Johnny’s, Johnny would have been the perfect addition to OVO. Especially since Drake wasn’t able to get Abel on OVO, and they started “beefing” around that time. Scooping up Johnny Rain could have been the perfect way for Drake to take the reigns on dark R&Pop and make OVO a hub for that kind of music. Plus, from a quick Google Search, it seems like people were already kind of lumping the two of them together, or at least acknowledging that there was some similarities in their sounds. And the thing about Johnny Rain’s sound is that, at the time, he’s was little bit more radio-friendly to me than PARTY or Abel, so it wouldn’t have been difficult for him to cross over.

I do think, though, that Drake was really into keeping OVO in the Canadian family. So, if anything, I wanna say that might have been a big part of why it didn’t work out. LOL idk. I don’t really have a lot more to say about this; it was just something I found myself thinking a lot about recently. He’s been pretty quiet, so it’s kind of hard to see how he’s been doing, but I might check on the project he released a couple of years ago to see if he started feeling out some different vibes. There’s been a lot of developments happening in the music world, especially around the folks that Johnny was being compared to at the time, so I’m interested to see what he’s been up to.


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