The music business is a strange beast. Some artists struggle
for years and years to get their shot and never even make a dent in the game.
On the flipside, there is that rare occurrence where a chance meeting takes
place and a career is born. The latter represents the journey of Drake.
Born Aubrey Drake Graham, the Toronto MC has been surrounded by the arts all of
his life. Born into a musical family tree, he would take a different route though
with a promising acting career. During this time on screen [Degrassi: The Next Generation], he would find himself quietly crafting
songs. A couple of years later, Drake has the same team that made Eminem pop behind
him and Lil Wayne is performing his
verses on the MTV Music Music Awards.
Now with a monster co-sign and a considerable buzz on his
side, Drake speaks on where hes been, where hes at and where he hopes to go.
How did you get into rapping?
Drake: Well I
really started doing a television show for teenagers called Degrassi: The Next Generation. I started on that when I was like fourteen.
I did that for eight years. My father was always deeply connected with music,
my uncle wrote for Al Green and Ive always had a lot of musical history in my
Within that time period I developed a love for music. I just
started taking it seriously when I met a few key people in my life. I did two mixtapes; one with DJ Smalls and one by myself [Comeback Season] that a lot
people said should have been an album. Now I here I am, ready to make my debut
with a whole bunch of great product to rediscover.
Im not signed to Young Money but Im definitely Young Money affiliated. Like I said, me and Wayne do a lot of work together and Wayne is going to be executive producing my album.
Youre originally from Toronto but you lay your head in Memphis correct?
Drake: Well my
father is from Memphis so I spent a lot of my summers in Memphis. I love the South
and the culture. I love Houston, I love Atlanta. I remember growing up on Three
Six [Mafia], Project Pat, Skinny Pimp, Yo Gotti; I
just remember riding to that music and the feeling when those CDs were
It was an amazing time. It taught me about excitement. I
think thats what Hip-Hop is missing now, those artists you anticipate. I think
in the South, that still happens because they support their artists so much,
they get excited for the albums to drop. So right now its a blessing to be
that dude in Toronto. When I drop a new [song] and my phone blows up and people
are playing it on the radio and in the club; I can definitely [say] Im the
most exciting artist in Canada right now. Anything outside of that, I dont
Would you include Kardinal Offishal
in that last statement as well?
Drake: Me and Kardi are mad cool and we
get along; we have a great relationship. But as far as being exciting, Kardi has been in the game for a minute now. I think people
are happy for him with this last album, but I think as far being something new,
refreshing, and exciting, people havent seen someone make so much progress in
this short time. For people out here its like, Yeah this dude got joints with
Wayne, Wayne is on the VMAs spitting his verses and
shouting him out.
Thats exciting for my city, we dont have that. Its like when Jay-Z brought out Kardi out at Carribana, everybody
was hype. But that was three years ago and now its a different time. I love Kardinals music but its not for everybody. Hes got a
very niche market. When I go to the South people know of Kardi,
but they dont necessarily follow him because it is hard for them to follow
him. Kardinal raps very fast and uses the Jamaican
dialect. But at the end of the day hes very talented and I mean no disrespect
to him. But I have no shame in saying to anybody out here that I am the most
exciting and most anticipated artist out here right now.
lot of your newfound recognition comes from your association with Lil Wayne.
How did that come about?
Drake: I met
Wayne through a friend of mine from Houston. He was in the car riding with
Wayne one day and was like, Look man, I got this dude I think you should hear.
Its funny because when I heard the story Wayne was like, Nah I actually
listened to that dude already, I didnt like that s**t or whatever.
I guess Wayne gets a lot of bulls**t. So the dude was like, Nah
for real did you really listen? And Wayne was like, Nah Im going keep it
real I didnt but hurry up and play it. They were riding in the car and he
played the joints. I think he got through two joints. I was actually in a
barbershop and I got a phone call from who I thought was my homeboy and it
ended up being Wayne asking me if I could get out of the city by 7pm.
From there he put me on a flight and I went to meet him. I
spent like a week and a half on the road with Wayne. Me and
Wayne formed a connection where we just related on a music level. I
think Wayne respects the fact that I am myself.
I didnt show up wearing any ice or being a thug or trying
to be a whole bunch of things Im not. Im proud of the way I am, in my
upbringing and being the individual I am. I showed up confident in that and he
really respected that. But yeah, we make a lot of music together. Hes a great
dude and I look up to him. Hes definitely a mentor to me and I never got the
chance to tell him that so I hope he reads this because I think he is one of
the most talented individuals Ive ever met in my life.
Wayne is the hottest name in Rap, what was it like the first time to go into
the studio with him?
Drake: It was a
lot of fun actually the nerves and the pressure pushed me to get excited and do
a little better. I had been waiting in the studio all night not even thinking I
would get to do a joint with him. He was recording a lot that night; that joint
with Keri Hilson (Turning Me Off). He was recording
that and he had a lot of stuff to do and I wasnt really going to press it.
He told me to go into the studio and record the joints I
had. I knew he would like this joint and I knew he was in the room next to me.
So I played this joint real loud, it ended up being called Forever.
He walked back into the room like yeah load that one up in
the Pro Tools. We did our verses back to back. It was exciting to the point
that he found someone to rap next to that doesnt get completely trumped by his
verses. We did three joints that night. It was exciting; it was a night I will
are you signing with his Young Money imprint?
Drake: Im not
signed to Young Money but Im definitely Young Money affiliated. Like I said, me
and Wayne do a lot of work together and Wayne is going to be executive
producing my album.
Ransom both you and Wayne hint at doing some ghostwriting for Dr. Dres Detox album.
Drake: Wayne can
do something like that because he is Wayne. Wayne set it off, but yeah we both
had our little hand in that. Personally I dont want to burn any bridges; I
know Im not personally supposed to speak on any situations about what I did do
and what I didnt do for that album, lets just pray it comes out. I can say I
had an opportunity to work with Dr. Dre for quite a
I guess this would give away where Im signing to but when I was sitting with Jimmy Iovine, one of the most important things he said to me was, ‘You remind me of Eminem because Im an old white dude but I can still understand [what] you’re saying and its so clever and I laugh and I chuckle to myself when I understand your punch lines…’
Drake & Lil Wayne “Ransom”
Jay-Z popularized the trend of not writing any lyrics down. A lot of new
rappers have taken that style and ran with it. Do you still put the pen to the
thats funny because I have a verse on my album about that. Yeah, a lot of
people think its cool to say that they dont even write their stuff or
whatever. But there is people that really dont; Ive
seen Wayne go to the studio and think up his verses line by line. Thats an
amazing thing to do but me personally I like to do my research. I like to use
words that people wouldnt normally use. I take my time. I actually write my
verses in my BlackBerry so I have quick access to the Internet so I can look up
a definition or search quotes. I like to put thought into my verses, not to say
everyone else doesnt. What works for me is being able to see everything laid
With this being your major label debut, is there any album that you are trying
to pattern yours after?
Drake: Yeah, I
would probably say Graduation and Lord Willin
by The Clipse.
Drake f/ Trey Songz “Replacement Girl” Video
Those are two interesting choices. Personally I think Lord Willin aged terribly.
Drake: Yeah I
agree. I listen to it and it doesnt carry the same energy now. With Graduation I mean the songs and how it
was so great musically. With Lord Willin
it was more the feeling it gave me. It was something completely different. It
was something completely new at the time and front to back I used to love that
album. Thats what I want my first album to be where not every song is
following a radio format.
What do you think will separate you from everyone else from here out?
Drake: I guess
this would give away where Im signing to but when I was sitting with Jimmy Iovine, one of the most important things he said to me was,
You remind me of Eminem because Im an old white dude but I can still
understand [what] you’re saying and its so clever and I laugh and I chuckle to
myself when I understand your punch lines. I can learn those words because you
take the right pauses and breathes. I have a style people can follow and enjoy
and at the end of the day, I can spit.