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Aubrey Drake Graham (born October 24, 1986), who records under the mononym Drake, is a Canadian recording artist, rapper, songwriter, and actor. He was born in Toronto, Ontario. He first garnered recognition for his role as Jimmy Brooks on the television series Degrassi: The Next Generation. He later rose to prominence as a rapper, releasing several mixtapes like Room for Improvement before signing to Lil Wayne's Young Money Entertainment in June 2009.
Drake's EP, So Far Gone (2009), spawned the hit single "Best I Ever Had" and the moderate hit "Successful". His first studio album, Thank Me Later (2010), debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and generated notable singles, "Over" and "Find Your Love". It was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His second album, Take Care (2011), is his most successful to date, topping charts in the United States and Canada and producing multiple hit singles, including "Headlines", "Take Care", "Make Me Proud", and "The Motto", the last of which is also credited for popularizing the widely used acronym YOLO. In promotion of Take Care, Drake embarked on the worldwide Club Paradise Tour, which became the most successful hip-hop tour of 2012, grossing over $42 million. His third studio album Nothing Was the Same was released on September 24, 2013. It has so far been supported by the singles "Started from the Bottom" and "Hold On, We're Going Home".
Drake has sold over 5 million albums worldwide. His work has earned him a Grammy Award, three Juno Awards, six BET Awards, and set several significant Billboard records. With twelve number-one singles, Drake has more than any other artist on Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart. With ten number-one singles, he also has more than any other rapper on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, passing Jay-Z in August 2012. He is one of two artists (the other being 50 Cent) that has simultaneously occupied the chart's top three positions.
Drake, along with being a record producer under the pseudonym C. Papi, has also written songs for other artists, including Alicia Keys and Jamie Foxx and Trey Songz. He featured as a voice actor in Ice Age: Continental Drift as the mammoth Ethan. Drake was tied with Rihanna for the most nominations at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards. He was ranked No. 2 on MTV's Hottest MCs in the Game VII list in 2012. Drake became the #1 Rhythmic artist of 2012 based on Mediabase.
Life and career
1986–2005: Early life and acting career
Aubrey Drake Graham was born on October 24, 1986, in Toronto, Ontario, to parents Sandi Graham (née Sher), an educator, and Dennis Graham, a drummer who worked with Jerry Lee Lewis. Two of his uncles, Larry Graham and Teenie Hodges, are also musicians. Drake's father is an African-American from Memphis, Tennessee, and Drake's mother is a white Jewish Canadian. He attended a Jewish day school and had a Bar Mitzvah. His parents divorced when he was five years old, and he was raised by his mother in two Toronto neighbourhoods; he lived on Weston Road in the city's west end, until the sixth grade, when he moved to the affluent Forest Hill. As a youth, he played minor hockey with the Weston Red Wings. Drake has commented on the move to Forest Hill and his mother's struggle, saying that "She wanted the best for her family. She found us a half of a house we could live in. The other people had the top half, we had the bottom half. I lived in the basement, my mom lived on the first floor. It was not big, it was not luxurious. It was what we could afford." Drake then began attending Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, where he began acting, but did not graduate. It was the first of two high schools he would attend, as he later went to Vaughan Road Academy, describing it as "not by any means the easiest school to go to. It's a tough school." Despite dropping out of high school, years later, he graduated in October 2012.
At the age of 15, Drake met an agent, the father of a high school friend. The agent found Drake a role on the Canadian TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation as Jimmy Brooks. In the show, Brooks is a basketball star who became physically disabled after he was shot by a classmate. Drake describes how his early acting career affected his family, "My mother was very sick. We were very poor, like broke. The only money I had coming in was off of Canadian TV, which isn't that much money when you break it down. A season of Canadian television is under a teacher's salary, I'll tell you that much. It's definitely not something to go fucking get." He would continue his acting career on Degrassi: The Next Generation until 2009, when his character graduated from Degrassi. Overall, he appeared in a total of 138 episodes.
Looking back on his early life, Drake had to essentially live two different lives because of his parents' divorce; he lived in a very upper-class part of Toronto, and, when in Memphis, was told he was "the furthest thing from hood." He witnessed many life-changing experiences because of this, one being his father's arrest, which he describes by saying "The fact that I didn't have a father, because he was in jail two separate times. He did a two-year bid and a three-year bid, I was there when he got taken down. We had just gotten back from Memphis." However, Drake comments on his childhood experiences by saying "I've seen things that didn't make me happy. They were character building. That's why I think people in the hood can still connect with what I'm saying even though I'm not saying 'yeah I got crack in my pocket' 'cause that wasn't my struggle necessarily, [but] I speak from a place that's just human emotion." Drake stated that his parents' divorce greatly affected him as a person, saying, "I had to become a man very quickly and be the backbone for a woman who I love with all my heart, my mother." At the age of 24, Drake commented on his early life by saying "I've seen a lot, man. I've seen a lot of life, put it that way. I've been with the most blessed kids in the world. I've been with people whose life is right at the bottom of the barrel. I was on a TV show, I went to art school, I went to hood schools. I've lived. I've lived a full 24 years, man."
Around this time, Drake was dating fellow Canadian R&B singer Keshia Chanté.
2006–09: Mixtapes and So Far Gone
In 2006, Drake self-released his first mixtape Room for Improvement. The mixtape features artists Trey Songz and Lupe Fiasco. He described it as "pretty straightforward, radio friendly, not much content to it." In a TeenNick interview from that time, he cited his influences as rappers Jay-Z, Clipse, Talib Kweli, Mos Def and singers Anthony Hamilton and Maxwell. In 2007, he released another mixtape, Comeback Season, spawning a single and a music video for "Replacement Girl" featuring Trey Songz. Also in 2007, Drake became the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have his music video featured on BET when his first single, "Replacement Girl" was featured as the "New Joint of the Day" on April 30, 2007. It also contained a freestyle over a song with Lil Wayne, a remix of "Man of the Year" originally by Brisco and Flo Rida. In 2008, Lil Wayne was given some of Drake's music from Rap-A-Lot founder, J. Prince's son, Jas Prince, and he immediately called Drake to invite him to fly to Houston and tour with him. Drake and Wayne recorded a couple of songs during this time, including "Ransom", the original version of "I Want This Forever", and the remix to Drake's song, "Brand New". Though now part of Lil Wayne's crew, Young Money, Drake was not signed. On February 13, 2009, Drake released his third official mixtape, So Far Gone, for free download on his blog site which included Drake's mentor Lil Wayne, Bun B, Omarion, Lloyd and his friend, Trey Songz. It received over 2,000 downloads in the first 2 hours of release. It was extremely successful in the underground and eventually made its way to radio. Due to the success of the mixtape's two singles, "Best I Ever Had" and "Successful", it was released as an EP featuring only five songs from the mix tape and one new song. MTV named it "The Hottest Mixtape of 2009 (So Far)". Since So Far Gone, Drake worked with Rihanna, DJ Khaled, Young Money, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Young Jeezy, Mary J. Blige, Timbaland, Birdman, Trey Songz, and Jamie Foxx. Drake has also written for Alicia Keys, and Dr. Dre. So Far Gone is credited as being his commercial and critical breakthrough as it was much more critically acclaimed and commercially successful than his previous two releases.
He achieved success before signing to a major record label, according to his management Hip Hop Since 1978. In June 2009, it was revealed that an unauthorized album entitled The Girls Love Drake and credited to Drake was up for sale on iTunes. A lawsuit was planned against the label. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart of July 4, 2009, both "Best I Ever Had", and "Every Girl" by Young Money Entertainment entered the top ten at positions 3 and 10 respectively. Drake is only the second artist to have his first two top ten hits in the same week. The first was fellow Canadian Nelly Furtado who entered the top ten in 2001 with "I'm Like A Bird" the same week as Missy Elliott's "Get Ur Freak On", a remix of which included a credited contribution from Furtado. On June 29, 2009, it was confirmed, that Drake signed a record deal with Young Money Entertainment. This followed what Billboard purported to be "one of the biggest bidding wars ever". Drake toured with Wayne and other rap artists on the America's Most Wanted Tour. On July 31, 2009, Drake, who was performing on an already injured knee, fell on stage while performing "Best I Ever Had", with Lil Wayne in Camden, New Jersey. Drake underwent surgery on September 8, 2009 for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. He underwent rehabilitation and was soon able to walk. On September 15, 2009, So Far Gone was released as a seven-track EP in which five of the tracks were from the original mixtape. It debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200. Since then the album was certified gold by the RIAA with over 500,000 copies sold in the United States. On April 18, 2010, the album won Rap Recording of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards.
2010–11: Thank Me Later
Drake planned to release his official debut album, Thank Me Later, in late 2008, but the album's release date was postponed, first to March 2010, then May 25, 2010. Universal Motown then stated the album had been pushed back three weeks for a June 15, 2010, release. Thank Me Later was finally released on June 15, 2010. On that day, 25,000 fans gathered at New York's South Street Seaport for a free concert by Drake and Hanson. A near-riot ensued after police canceled the show due to overflowing crowds. The week of the album's release, the album sold 447,000 copies and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Due to his first week sales, Drake had sold the most records for any hip hop artist in one week in 2010. Eminem surpassed that accomplishment a week later. The album has collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne while forgoing planned duets with Trey Songz and Danny!. On March 9, 2010, Drake released the first single from his Thank Me Later album, titled "Over". The song was well-received and performed well both commercially and critically. The song reached a peak of No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Rap Songs chart. The song also received a nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 53rd Grammy Awards. On March 12, 2010, a version of K'naan's "Wavin' Flag" recorded by a collective of Canadian musicians known as Young Artists for Haiti was released. Drake is featured in the song, performing a solo verse near the end of the song. In June 2010, it was announced that Drake would have a prominent role in the video game Gears of War 3. He was scheduled to play the part of Jace Stratton, but a scheduling conflict meant it went to someone else. On April 29, 2010, it was announced that Drake had finished Thank Me Later. According to reports, Drake announced the completion of the album to a crowd during his April 26, 2010, show at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. His camp has since confirmed that Drake was finished with the final track to the album and the next single from the album would be titled "Find Your Love".
"Find Your Love" was released as the second single on May 5, 2010. Critics commended Drake's attempt to move into the singing lane on the song, and compared it to Kanye West's work on 808s & Heartbreak. The single became the most successful single from the album, peaking at number 5 on the Hot 100 and receiving a Platinum certification by the RIAA. "Find Your Love" also performed well internationally and was Drake's first top 40 appearance in the United Kingdom and Italy. To date it also remains Drake's only solo top 10 appearance in his home country of Canada. The music video for the single was shot in Kingston, Jamaica and tells the story of Drake being involved in a fateful encounter with a gang-affiliated woman. The video was criticized by Jamaica's minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett who said "We just have to say that care has to be taken by all, including our creative artists, in portraying images of our destination and people, Gun culture, while not unique to Jamaica, is not enhancing [the island's image]" The third single from the album, "Miss Me", featuring Lil Wayne, was released on June 1, 2010. The single proved to be moderately successful, and reached No. 15 on the Hot 100. The fourth and final single released from the album was "Fancy". The song was performed at the MTV Music Video Awards in 2010 with appearances by Swizz Beatz and Mary J. Blige in the performance. The song proved to be his least successful single of the era, peaking at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it managed to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Rap Songs chart and received a nomination at the 53rd Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group. Drake hosted the first annual OVO (October's Very Own) Festival. In that festival he brought out the VIP list of rap stars including Jay-Z, Eminem, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Bun B and Fabolous. Drake kicked off his "Lights Dreams and Nightmares Tour" on September 20, 2010 in Miami, Florida. The tour traveled to major cities in the United States, winding down on November 6 in Las Vegas.
2011–12: Take Care
Drake's second studio album, Take Care, was announced on November 17, 2010. It was originally scheduled to be released on October 24, 2011, though it was later delayed to November 15, 2011. In late January 2011, Indiewire announced that Drake was in negotiations to join Eva Green and Susan Sarandon in the cast of Nicholas Jarecki's forthcoming feature-film Arbitrage. In April 2011, it was announced that he would no longer star in the movie in order to focus on the album. "Dreams Money Can Buy" and "Marvins Room" were released on Drake's October's Very Own Blog on May 20 and June 9, respectively. The former was not featured on the official tracklisting, while the latter was released as a promotional single through iTunes on July 22 after it gained considerable airplay on Urban radio. The song was certified Gold by the RIAA, peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached the top 10 of the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. On June 28, the music video for "Marvins Room" was released, featuring him feeling depressed in a club.
"Headlines" was released as Take Care's lead single on August 9, 2011. It was met with positive critical and commercial responses, reaching number 13 on the Hot 100 and was eventually certified Platinum in the United States and Canada. The song also became his tenth single to reach the summit of the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, which led him to be the artist with the most number 1 hits on the chart, a record which he still presently holds with 12 number one hits. The music video for the single was released on October 2, 2011, depicting Drake rapping in various locations around Toronto such as Guild Park and Rogers Centre. He performed "Headlines" on ice during the second intermission of the NHL All Star Game in his home country of Canada in January 2012.
"Make Me Proud" was released as the second single from the album on October 16, 2011, and features Trinidadian rapper Nicki Minaj. The single was commercially successful, reaching a peak position of number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. It ties the record for largest jump on the Billboard Hot 100 for a male artist (with Akon's "Smack That"), when the song vaulted from number 97 to number 9 in an 88 position jump. The song also reached the peak of both the Billboard Rap Songs chart and the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, marking Drake's eleventh and eighth number ones on both charts respectively. "Make Me Proud" became Drake's fourth consecutive single to receive a Platinum certification by the RIAA.
"The Motto" was released as Take Care's third single on November 29, 2011, and features American rapper Lil Wayne. It became one of Drake's most successful singles, peaking at number 14 on the Hot 100 and topping the Rap and R&B/Hip-Hop songs charts, further extending his lead for most number one hits on the rap chart and matching a record set by fellow rapper Jay-Z, for most number one hits on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for a Rap artist. It is credited for popularizing the phrase "YOLO" in the United States, with the song's hook stating, "You only live once: that's the motto, nigga, YOLO." The song's music video was released on February 10, 2012, and features appearances by fellow Young Money rapper Tyga, E-40, and Mistah F.A.B..
The album's title track was released as the fourth single on February 21, 2012, and features Barbadian recording artist Rihanna. It is Drake's biggest worldwide hit as a lead artist with the song being his first top 10 hit in Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The single was certified 2× Platinum in the United States for sales of over 2,000,000 units, being the second single after "The Motto" to do so. The music video for the single was released after many delays on April 6, 2012, simultaneously with the music video for the fifth single "HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)". The video for "Take Care" depicts various scenes of both Drake and Rihanna embracing along with various scenes of natural landscapes and wildlife. Critically, the video was praised, with MTV stating, "None of his contemporaries — not even the ever-obtuse Kanye [West] - make videos like this, mostly because no one else can get away with it." The music video received four nominations at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards for Best Male Video, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Video of the Year. The fifth single from Take Care, "HYFR (Hell Ya Fucking Right)" was released on April 24, 2012 and was the least successful single from the album, peaking at No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was certified Gold by the RIAA, indicating sales of over half a million units. The Judaism themed video for the song won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Hip-Hop Video. In December 2012, FUSE TV named "HYFR" one of the top 40 songs of 2012.
2012–present: OVO Sound and Nothing Was the Same
Drake and producer Noah "40" Shebib formed a record label named OVO Sound in early 2012. Drake and 40 represented OVO (October's Very Own) since his previous mixtapes were released. The label is currently distributed by Warner Bros. Records. The label signed its first artist who goes by PartyNextDoor and also signed producers Boi-1da, T-Minus, and Mike Zombie. In 2012, Jake One produced a song for Drake, originally expected to be released ahead of the third annual OVO Fest. A video of Drake previewing the untitled song while smoking a hookah was released on June 26, 2012 through Vimeo. In the event, the previously unissued "Enough Said" by Aaliyah featuring verses added by Drake was released instead on the day of the concert.
While touring in the UK in support of Take Care, Drake announced in an interview that he had begun work on his third studio album. He had recently worked with 40, and was hoping to work with Jamie xx, who produced Take Care's title track, while in the UK, stating that he wants him to "have a bigger presence on my third record". Drake has stated that the album will have a different style than that of Take Care.
Drake was featured on Rick Ross's single "Diced Pineapples" from God Forgives, I Don't, Kendrick Lamar's song "Poetic Justice" from Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, and ASAP Rocky's "Fuckin' Problems" from Long. Live. ASAP, which also features Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz. On December 5, 2012, it was announced Drake's record label, October's Very Own, inked a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records.
In January 2013, Drake was seen filming the music video for a new song titled "Started from the Bottom" and was being directed by Director X. Drake later announced that he will release the song as the first single off his third studio album on the night of the 55th Grammy Awards. The single was instead premiered on February 1, 2013 and released to iTunes five days later. At the 55th Grammy Awards, he won the award for Best Rap Album for Take Care and announced his third studio album would be titled Nothing Was the Same. In March 2013 he would premiere a song off the album titled "5 AM in Toronto", a sequel to the Thank Me Later track "9 AM in Dallas". Later in the month he would film a music video for the song and it would be released on April 1, 2013. Drake also would release two more songs on April 15, 2013 titled "No New Friends", a song that will be featured on DJ Khaled's Suffering from Success album, and "Girls Love Beyonce", which contains a samples from Destiny's Child song "Say My Name". On September 14, 2013, Drake performed an unreleased song from his upcoming album Nothing Was the Same, titled "Too Much", featuring London singer Sampha on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He also announced that his "Would You like a Tour?" tour will begin in October 2013. Drake made his Saturday Night Live hosting debut on January 19, 2014; also serving as the musical guest. The episode received acclaim from critics who praised Drake's acting ability and comedic timing.
Drake stated that Kanye West, Jay-Z, Aaliyah and his mentor Lil Wayne are his biggest influences. Drake refers to Kanye West as one of his idols and favorite rappers in hip hop. He expanded on this by commenting in an interview with MTV: "I can never sit here and tell you that's not one of my idols, that's not one of my favorite rappers. Whatever energy I've ever felt is irrelevant. When you ask me, 'What do I think of Kanye West,' I'mma always have something positive to say." Drake's musical abilities have often been compared to West. He commented on this by saying, "It's an honor, when I was a kid trying to figure out what I liked, it was 'Ye who I related to the most. He was an artist, in every sense, from his cover art to his music. Now, I would say, he is really great, competitor...and friend, at the same time. My goal is to surpass everything he's accomplished. I don't want to be as good as Kanye, I want to be better."
In an interview with SoulCulture TV Drake stated that R&B singer Aaliyah has had the biggest influence on his career. "Aaliyah has had probably the most impact on my career," he states, "because when I made a choice to start singing it was because of something that my father had told me which was, 'There's no rapper out there that sings and raps and does both things well... and in order to be successful you're gonna need something other than just what everyone else is doing.' I was rapping already at the time so I had an identity in rap, but when I started singing I needed something to reference. I needed someone to be like, 'I wanna be like that'. I didn't want it ever to be a male because then I would sound like that person, so I just found comfort in all of Aaliyah's music and her melody choices and the things that she talks about – and how she always conveyed these amazing emotions but never got too sappy, she always kept it G. That had the biggest influence on my music because – as much as my music may be geared towards women – I try not to make it so that only women can sing it."
The lyricism of Drake is often in regard to his riches, fame and past relationships. Allmusic describes Drake's moods as searching, thoughtful, introspective, brooding, confident, dramatic, earnest, energetic, humorous, intense, laid-back/mellow, literate, melancholy, nostalgic, playful, reflective, smooth, tender, warm and yearning. Drake's sound is labeled as "soft" for his genuine, merciful lyrics and soulful melody to most hip hop listeners. He denied this by saying "I'm not soft. I'm just not one of those people who's closed off emotionally." A large portion of Drake's work incorporates elements of both rapping and singing, which has led to him being unique as a recording artist. Drake has even described himself as "the first person to successfully rap and sing." He went on further about his statement by saying "I'm one of the few artists who gets to be himself every day. It doesn't take me six hours to get ready and I don't have to wake up in the morning and remember to act like this or talk like this. I just have to be me. That's one of the favourite parts of my life - I've done this purely by being myself."
Drake has a unique musical style that has set him apart from his (Young Money) counterparts, especially on his latest effort Take Care. Lil Wayne even commented on the project prior to its release saying "I can tell, you know, I don't know nothing else out there that can touch it, including my stuff. That kid is on another planet." Recently, Drake has been making a notable shift away from Young Money/Cash Money collaborations and towards a new project, OVOXO. The OVO owl symbolizes OVOXO, which is a separate entity from Young Money/Cash Money and represents a collaboration group between Drake and R&B singer The Weeknd. Its eyes and beak form the acronym for October's Very Own. Drake has been moving in this new direction after the release of Take Care, which featured writing collaborations with The Weeknd on 5 tracks ranging from "Crew Love" to "Shot for Me" and 2 production collaborations on "Crew Love" and "The Ride", more than any Young Money/Cash Money collaboration.
The first artist to publicly diss Drake on a song was Pusha T. He remixed Drake's "Dream Money Can Buy" and released a single called "Exodus 23:1" on Kanye West's GOOD Music label. Lil Wayne and Drake both responded to the track. Pusha T has stated that he has failed to respond to Lil Wayne's diss because he felt it was not good enough to respond to. The beef between Drake and Pusha T has not been squashed. During the Take Care era, Drake had numerous attacks from other rappers. Common made a song titled "Sweet" (See The Dreamer/The Believer) although it was not specifically aimed at Drake. Drake took offense (as the song had lyrics critical of rappers who sing on their tracks) and released "Stay Schemin'", a song with Rick Ross and French Montana, with subliminal attacks. Common commented on the feud by saying it was over.
Drake and Chris Brown were allegedly involved in a physical altercation on June 14, 2012, when Drake and his entourage allegedly threw glass bottles towards Chris Brown at a nightclub called WIP in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. Chris Brown tweeted personal information involving the situation but afterwards deleted the tweets and made a seemingly direct diss record to Drake a few weeks later. It is unclear why they clashed. Drake dated Rihanna (not long after the domestic violence case caused by her ex) in 2009. They have remained as romantic friends since then. Ludacris dissed Drake, Big Sean, and Shawn Jay from Field Mob on his song "Bada Boom". Big Sean felt that he invented the "supa dupa flow". Ludacris mimicked the flow in his song "My Chick Bad". Drake also mimicked the flow on his song "Forever". Ludacris and Big Sean have put this behind them.
On September 30, 2013, Drake was announced as the new "global ambassador" for the Toronto Raptors, thereby joining the executive committee of his hometown's National Basketball Association (NBA) team. In this role, he will help promote and serve as a host of festivities for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, to be held in Toronto, as well as provide consulting services to rebrand the team and redesign its image and clothing line, in honour of its upcoming 20th anniversary, in the 2014–15 season. The job includes his own staff, located in an office next to that of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment CEO Tim Leiweke. In announcing the position, Drake noted that, "obviously, I won't be able to be in the building every day but I am extremely dedicated to it...I do take it very seriously as a new job and a new chapter in my life."