You wouldn’t expect Canadian rapper Drake and soulful folk songwriter Sufjan Stevens to have much in common. Drake’s all boisterousness and emphasis, while Stevens’ best works are moody, somber, reserved. But it’s clear that the folk singer admires the Views rapper’s work; he’s covered “Hotline Bling” more than once in concert, clearly enjoying the hell out of its smooth jams.
Meanwhile, on the internet, the two are virtual best buds, thanks to the work of fan-fiction author “Riveyoncé Cuoknowles,” whose When Sufjan Met Drake chronicles a made-up friendship between the two artists. Now, Cuoknowles has deepened the fictitious relationship, releasing Six Swans, a crowdsourced album mashing up the two men’s work.
Mash-ups like this either work or they don’t; there’s not a lot of middle ground. Luckily, Six Swans—a reference to Stevens’ Seven Swans and Drake’s nickname for his hometown of Toronto—mostly does. There’s the opening track, “Death Over Dignity,” by Tumblr user waterwarp, which blends the tinkling opening of Carrie And Lowell’s opening track with Drake’s “Over” to surprisingly good effect. Or “Jacksonville Forever,” where 6enevieve slots Drake’s lines in between the Illinois song’s bouncy guitars. The tracks aren’t all mash-ups, either; there are covers, too, with beachdeath offering up a Toronto-focused version of “Chicago” in “Go! Toronto! Go! Yeah!”
To be clear: Six Swans is a novelty album, with a lot of joking evident in its DNA. But given how execrable novelty music can be, it’s nice to have one that’s so consistently pleasant on the ears, and which pays tribute to both sides of its random-seeming heritage.