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Drake: The AllHipHop Interview

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Drake is moving and moving fast. He’s in Los Angeles and tried to squeeze an interview in prior to taping the “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on NBC. Didn’t work. A few hours later, he emerges en route to the “Jimmy Kimmel Live” show- still moving – but equipped with more time. AllHipHop talked to Drake in a surprisingly revealing interview. Why does he feel as if he could have done better with Thank Me Later, even after nearly going Gold in one week? How does he intend to appease his highly critical base and his broader mainstream audience? Does he really want to marry Nicki Minaj? Did he make an error addressing Lil’ Kim? And then there is the Rihanna question, where Drake is completely caught off guard. Through all the questions, Drake has answers, but he really wants to answer the queries about his legitimacy as a contender for greatness. He plans to answer that though his music, which he’ll address in Part 2 of this dialogue.

Part 1 of 2

AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about your rise to success and having the biggest opening week for a Hip-Hop artist in 2010?

Drake: First of all, I’m humbled by everything. It hasn’t really set in. It hasn’t really registered. You know, we don’t do too much celebrating, but I’m just thinking about the next win..the next win. You know, like Kobe Bryant says. I don’t know what a ring feels like. Until I get the ring, I’m never satisfied. I’m very humbled, very honored by the response of what we’ve done thus far, but – in my mind – we could do a lot better. I’m just working towards that.

AllHipHop.com: Why do you say that? Why do you say you feel you could do a lot better? You’ve done quite a bit…

Drake: I just listen back on my own music. I think I could spit better verses, better hooks, better selections. As far as music goes, all around, you know? Make better videos, although “Find Your Love” is one of my favorite videos. It is a great video, but you know, come up with a better marketing plan. Mostly musically though, I just feel I can do better. I think I can rap a lot better than I’m rapping right now. If I could make better over all music for the world to sing so…you know. That’s just how I feel.  You know, the people around me say I’m too hard on myself, but that’s how I’ve always been.

AllHipHop.com: Are you pleased with your album, Thank Me Later?

Drake: I’m pleased with it for certain reasons. I’m pleased with it overall, on a whole as a body of work. I think that there are some great moments in there. I think it’s very reflective of where I’m at in my life. I think it’s the perfect soundtrack for this particular summer. I think it’s an overall good album. I don’t think by any means that it’s the best that I could do though only because I feel like I learned so much about my life in the period while I was making my album. And not only that, because of the schedule, I was just under duress making the album. It was very hectic. It was a lot of time constraints. Or I couldn’t be in the same place as 40 (his friend and producer Noah “40″ Shebib) and Boi 1 Da.  They had a demand prior to the album coming out, which is a rare thing. I think with a clear head and a little more time, and a different mindset, I can make a good album.     

AllHipHop.com: How, if at all does the pressure affect the creative process? 

Drake:  It’s never the pressure that affected the creative process, more than it was the time.  It was the time.  Recording on tour busses at 9AM is just not the ideal situation to finish your album, but maybe it is, maybe I wouldn’t have had those great moments on the album like I did if it wasn’t for that situation.  At the same time I just feel like everyone works better when they are rested, when their heads are clear.  It was more the time constraint that affected me more so than this weight on my shoulders or this pressure that everyone assumed would occur. I didn’t really necessarily feel this first album pressure.  I feel like we have longevity in this game, so I wasn’t really too worried about that.  I just wanted to make some great music.  I love seeing people react to my music.  Its like a drug, one of the strongest drugs ever in my opinion.  (Whispers “not that I’m doing drugs”) I just love that feeling. Putting out a feeling and having it really be the one is more addicting than anything in my life now. 

AllHipHop.com:  Let me ask you this. I appreciate your music, but I will admit I am not a die-hard type of fan like some fans that you have.  So I am a little mystified at some of the critics that think there is a different Drake from now to So Far Gone to other earlier work.  Do you feel like addressing some of the critics or are they just unaware of how you have evolved in the process of your mixtapes, to the EP to now? 

Drake:  Well I think the thing is that people get confused between the music and moment.  I think that’s the biggest thing that causes people to say, “Oh, Drake has changed.” The music that’s on Thank Me Later is very eclectic and is a unique brand of music and it is still our sound.  We went with a very unconventional creative method.  I think the reason that people hold So Far Gone in such high regard is because it was their first time hearing that sound.  First of all the sound the way it came out was very accessible, which to a lot of people that was an innovative approach.  And then not only that, a lot of people that had never heard me rap, and a lot of people had never heard 40’s (Noah “40” Shebib) production, or they had never heard the music we chose to flip.  It was very much the moment, you know, and it was something new, and I think that is always more exciting.  I think that as you gradually become more and more familiar with someone they become less and less exciting, they can still make great music, but the music and the moment is what people get confused.  I still believe strongly in Thank Me Later as an album.

AllHipHop.com: I noticed the Jay-Z verse on “Light Up,” where he cautions you on people that try to lure you into distracting beefs. The next week or so, there’s this “thing” with Lil Kim. How true did that verse ring for you?

Drake: Yeah I think the main thing for me was – and the reason I lashed out in that situation – was, because it wasn’t about me. And there are a lot of stupid things that other of rappers are going to try and rope me into. But at the end of the day, unfortunately, that’s not what pushes my buttons. You can say anything to me and I will not react to it. And even in that specific situation [with Lil  Kim] when things start getting said about me, it lost its thrill. You know what I mean? My biggest thing was I don’t like when you talk about people I love. People that I know for a fact are working very hard and are very respectful people. I don’t like that. That pushes my buttons more than anything you can say about me. It was wrong for ever saying anything in regards to that situation and, as you can see, I left it alone. Its over at this point. You know, I’m not going to give somebody a “look” off that. The fact is, I see Nicki pay a lot of respect to a lot of emcees in the game and she’s just working hard, doing her thing. Other individuals who aren’t relevant get jealous.  

AllHipHop.com: I feel you. Can we see a collaboration, between you and Rihanna? She put it out there and I know you rapped about it. You think we’ll see that in the future?

Drake: You said she put it out there?

[Rihanna told told E!: “Right now I’m listening to Drake, Jay-Z, Kings Of Leon, Ke$ha. He’s really, really talented, and I think he’s one of the illest lyricists out there right now, so I would love to work with him.”]

AllHipHop.com: Yeah, that she would love to work with you.

Drake: (pausing, seemingly shocked) When was that?

AllHipHop.com:  (laughing) Uh, yesterday?  

Drake: Really?

AllHipHop.com: Yeah!

Drake: That’s exciting news. (laughs) Yeah, yeah…I love her very much. She’s a great person and a great artist. I would be honored.  We actually did a song together and it just never came out. But, uh…it would be great to have something out there. It would be cool.

AllHipHop.com: We’ll…make it happen! We put it on Twitter and a bunch of people replied requesting to see you and Rihanna do a song.

Drake: We’ll make it happen. I’m sure.

AllHipHop.com: I was mystified at some of the comments and I recently put on Twitter the question, because somebody told me, “Drake’s not Hip-Hop” and I was baffled, because I feel like, in your lane, you represent lyricism. Especially with…

Drake: Sorry to chime in so soon, but I think the biggest thing is like it all depends on what is your perception of Hip-Hop. Like, if your perception of Hip-Hop is not being that successful, still being the underdog, being seen as hungry, in turn picking music that’s not commercially appealing… If that’s your definition of Hip-Hop, then you’re right…I’m not Hip-Hop.  I think that is the definition of Hip-Hop to a lot of people.

But I think if your definition of Hip-Hop is utilizing every opportunity to showcase a lyrical talent, making great music and making music that’s not complete sell-out like dance music or going too too pop, I think that I keep it Hip-Hop. I never doubt myself in that regard. I think a lot of people feel Hip-Hop, in their eyes, is not shiny. Its dull and gritty and its not about doing Jay Leno or getting nominated for Grammys or a lot of things that have come my way over the years. Like that stuff its too shiny, that’s when you’re too far gone.

AllHipHop.com: Which is more important to you, So Far Gone or Thank Me Later?

Drake:  They both are important for different reasons.  You know So Far Gone is what got me here.  A lot of people were like if you had added “Best I Ever Had”  to this album then it would have been crazy. But it never could have and it just happened the way it happened it just not possible.  And Thank Me Later I guess we will see how important it is. If I do win some awards and if I do break some records this year, then it will be important in its own right.  It’s also a great thing to get off my back. It was a solid body of work and it had an incredible first week and we did some great things.  It was a pretty epic rollout and I think this is the bar that we keep raising.  Next album who knows, I think maybe next album we can do the release concert in Dubai and I will jump off a building and land into the back of a drophead Phantom.

AllHipHop.com: On Twitter they want to know if you really want to marry Nicki Minaj.

Drake:  (Laughs) She’s an unbelievable woman. I don’t know. It’s too early to tell…. (laughs) I love Nicki, really I just be messing with Nicki.  I like to embarrass Nicki a little bit since we are on a public forum… no really I just like to make her blush.

AllHipHop.com:  When are you going to put out your R&B mixtape?

Drake: Whenever 40 wants to start making some R&B beats.  He’s right next to me so if he has something good, then we are one step closer.

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