Im strictly here for the networking: explaining the allure of Drake’s pop-up

For rappers, a pop-up merch store has become an essential part of working life. We spoke to attendees at Drakes current ephemeral boutique to find out why

At 11.30pm on Tuesday, Drake put out a notice on Instagram. It wasnt to announce a follow-up to his number one album Views, or yet more tour dates, but something more important: the details of his latest pop-up store.

Drakes communique. Photograph: @champagnepapi/Instagram
Pop-up merchandise shops have become a key component of rap tours and this is Drakes second in New York this year. Kanye claimed he racked up $1m at his store to promote The Life of Pablo in March, and Future, Odd Future and Bad Boy also had their own.

Drake fans made the pilgrimage to his Summer Sixteen pop-up in the Bowery in Manhattan, which opened a day before his tour with Future came to Madison Square Garden. Everyone was there for their own reasons, be it business, networking or tagging along with a friend. We spoke to a selection and found out why anyone would queue for hours for a hoodie with a picture of Drakes dog on it.

Ali, the uber fan: I just love his music

Standing in the small rectangular store, flicking through the sparsely filled racks, Ali Abnousi is preparing to see Drake in concert the next day.

Abnousi and his friend Andrew Parino showed up at 5.30am and waited six and a half hours so they could spend $200.

I just love his music, Abnousi said. Its great. I just feel like hes got the generation by its throat. Hes doing his thing right now.

Every generation has its artists, hes ours.

Abnousi is only 19 and first listened to Drake at the tender age of 12. I grew up listening to him for a long time. Hes just my favorite artist.

Hes keen to point out he keeps the clothes he buys, as many come to the pop-up simply to resell. For him its not about the money: We love Drake.

Drakes pop-up store in New York. Photograph: Mazin Sidahmed for the Guardian

Nicholas, the connoisseur: You should do it, and youll probably look fly

Under the midday sun, Nicholas Hernandez is standing in line, wearing a black T-shirt, a black hat, with another black shirt flung over his shoulder.

I keep myself cool, Hernandez said in complete contradiction of his wardrobe. I do this often.

This isnt Nicholass first rodeo. The 17-year-old high school student is a pop-up shop connoisseur. If theres a pop-up thats trending or hype, he said, hes there. Its also a business. He buys multiple of everything and sells most of it at double the price. He already has a network of customers so its sold before he even buys it.

Today he travelled from Jersey City at 8am to wait in line for the Summer Sixteen gear.

Its like fun for me, he said, before suggesting: You should do it, and youll probably look fly.

Mike, the blogger: Im currently building my own brand

Mike Egotanda was at work during the pop-up. He stood at the front of the line to film the event.

I want to make a quick video for social media, Egotanda said. Showing that I was out here. Hitting big events and things like that.

Mike doesnt miss anything in the city. He runs the Twitter account @PesoParis where he keeps his almost 10,000 followers informed on whats happening in the world of rap.

Going to events such as these is important because Im currently building my own brand, and working to be the best in my industry, he said.

Its also a great place to network with other industry insiders. His friend and rapper Levi had stacked up emails from the biggest blogs on the internet who he planned to blast when his new EP drops next month.

Levi waited in line from 5am, only to let Egotanda take his place when the doors opened.

Im strictly here for networking purposes, he said. Power moves.

Marco, the patriot: He represents our city, our country

Most fans there were under 21, some even had their parents to boot. Marco Siola, his parents and his brother were visiting New York from Toronto this week. Siola saw on Drakes announcement on Instagram and, as a Canadian, he felt compelled to attend.

He represents our city, our country, Siola said. Hes a good role model, and ambassador. To, like, us, and Canada as a whole and our cities.

Siola, who is from Toronto suburb Oakville, got into Drake in the ninth grade when he started getting more into the culture of rap music.

His mother and father didnt seem too familiar with Aubrey Grahams work, and Siola failed to mention that attending a pop-up would involve waiting in line for hours. Hes buying us dinner tonight, his father said.

Jeremy, the annoyed boyfriend: Personally, I think its stupid

Not everyone was happy to be there. Jeremy Torres was visibly exhausted as he slumped on a chair outside a Chinese restaurant on Bowery Street, while waiting in line. Like a few others, hed been dragged there by his partner.

Im not getting nothing, he moaned. I just came for her. Ive been standing for so long, Im tired.

The East Village native was unimpressed by the entire event. While hes a fan of Drake, he doesnt see what would compel someone to wait in line for his clothes.

Personally, I think its stupid. Just doing her favor.

The 19-year old wasnt sure what his girlfriend was going to buy, but he guessed it would be a hat with an owl on it.

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