THE STORIES BEGIN (WEEK TWO) Drake (Canadian rapper)

Category: Arts & Culture
October 24, 1986 (age 36) Toronto Canada

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Drake, original name Aubrey Drake Graham, (born October 24, 1986, Toronto, Ontario, Canada), Canadian rap musician who first gained fame as an actor on the acclaimed TV teenage drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation and went on to a successful and influential music career. His trademark mixture of singing and lyrical rapping and of braggadocio juxtaposed with raw vulnerability won him a large following.

Early life and career

Graham’s parents divorced when he was a small child, and he was raised by his mother. During the summers he often visited his father, a drummer whose family was musically connected. In 2001 Graham was cast as basketball star Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi. His true interest was music, however, and he began rapping during that time, using his middle name for his “nom de hip-hop.” He self-published his first mixtape, Room for Improvement, in 2006. The follow-up, Comeback Season (2007), included the single “Replacement Girl,” featuring Trey Songz; the track was highlighted on BET’s music video show 106 & Park, increasing Drake’s exposure. In 2008 he left Degrassi to focus on his music career.

So Far GoneThank Me Later, and Nothing Was the Same

Drake’s breakthrough came in 2009 with the release of the mixtape So Far Gone and its hit single “Best I Ever Had.” A bidding war between labels soon ensued, and Drake ultimately signed with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment, a subsidiary of Cash Money. Later that year the label put out So Far Gone as an EP. It won the Juno Award for rap recording of the year, and Drake was named new artist of the year. His first full-length studio album, Thank Me Later, was released in 2010, catapulting Drake to international stardom. The record was followed by the highly praised Take Care (2011). That album won the Juno Award for rap recording of the year and the Grammy Award for best rap album. Drake’s next studio record, Nothing Was the Same (2013), also took a Juno Award. Those albums, more commercially oriented than his earlier mixtapes, showed the influence of his collaborators, notably Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj.

If You’re Reading This It’s Too LateViews, and other releases

In 2015 Drake announced via Twitter the surprise release of a 17-track mixtape-cum-album, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Critics praised the record as a return to the personal, emotional, and melodic style of his earliest production. Like his previous releases, it shot to the top of the charts in Canada and the United States, and the album won the Juno Award for rap recording of the year. Later in 2015 Drake and rapper Future released the mixtape What a Time to be Alive. It debuted at the top of the Billboard 200, as did Drake’s fourth studio album, Views (2016), which featured the memorable singles “One Dance” and “Hotline Bling.” The former became Spotify’s most-streamed single at the time, and the latter garnered Drake two Grammys for best rap song and best rap performance—though in interviews Drake insisted that “Hotline Bling” was not a rap song. He stated, “The only category that [the Recording Academy] can manage to fit me in is in a rap category, maybe because I’ve rapped in the past or because I’m Black.” In 2017 Drake did not submit that year’s release, More Life, for Grammy consideration. The record, which Drake called a playlist, brought together different sounds from around the world. It also featured such up-and-coming talents as British singer Jorja Smith and South African producer Black Coffee on the song “Get It Together.” Drake also declined to submit the record for consideration for the Juno Awards. Commentators noted that, while the Juno Awards’ governing body had honoured him with such awards as rap recording of the year, it had never conferred its most prestigious awards, including artist, single, and album of the year.

ScorpionCertified Lover Boy, and additional recordings

Drake’s fifth studio album, Scorpion (2018), featured the Billboard Hot 100 single “God’s Plan,” which had first appeared on his EP Scary Hours, released several months earlier. Drake won a Grammy for best rap song for the track in 2019, but the live broadcast cut his acceptance speech short after he criticized the awards. Other tracks on Scorpion respond to the song “The Story of Adidon,” by American rapper Pusha T. Pusha T alleged that Drake was hiding a child that he fathered with artist and adult film star, Sophie Brussaux. In “Emotionless” and “March 14,”Drake acknowledged that he had recently become a father and addressed the challenges of co-parenting (critics largely panned the single “I’m Upset,” however, for its apparent complaint about child support payments).

Subsequent releases included Care Package (2019), a compilation of B-sides, covers, and other tracks; Dark Lane Demo Tapes (2020), which featured the Billboard Hot 100 single “Toosie Slide”; and the EP Scary Hours 2 (2021), which included another Billboard Hot 100 track, “What’s Next.” Drake’s sixth record, Certified Lover Boy, was released in 2021. Later that year he withdrew the album and one of its tracks, “Way 2 Sexy,” from consideration for the Grammy Awards for best rap album and best rap performance, respectively. In 2022 Drake released a surprise follow-up, Honestly, Nevermind, which featured more vocalizing and dance club beats than on his previous albums. Shortly after, he debuted the video for the album’s first single, “Falling Back.”

OVO and other projects

In addition to creating music, Drake also cofounded the Toronto-based collective October’s Very Own (OVO) with his frequent producer Noah (“40”) Shebib and Oliver El-Khatib. It became a record label (OVO Sound) in 2012 and represented such acts as the R&B duo Majid Jordan and Canadian singer, songwriter, and producer PartyNextDoor. Starting with the release of Care Package in 2019, Drake released all his albums on OVO Sound. OVO also hosted the annual summer concert OVO Festival (started in 2010) in Toronto.

The company’s greatest source of revenue, however, was its fashion line. It began in 2010 when OVO collaborated with the outerwear brand Canada Goose on a limited-edition bomber jacket. Other partnerships soon followed, including those with Nike and Timberland. The success of the OVO fashion line led to the opening of its first retail location in Toronto in 2014 and subsequent expansion into such cities as Los Angeles, New York, and London.

After leaving Degrassi, Drake took on a few acting roles, one of which was the voice of a teenage mammoth in the animated film Ice Age 4: Continental Drift (2012). He later garnered rave reviews for his comedic turn as host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 2014 and 2016. In 2019 Drake became an executive producer of the HBO series Euphoria, starring Emmy Award winner Zendaya.


you can also read: WEEK ONE, THE STORY BEGINS HERE