His is a classic story of a young boy who rose from poverty to do real good. Aubrey Drake Graham, or more popularly known as Drake, was born in Toronto in October 1986 to an African American father from Memphis and a Jewish Canadian mother from Ontario. His humble beginnings spurred him on to become one of the most successful music acts we have today.
Drake was raised in Toronto by his mother. Though they lived in the wealthy neighborhood of Forest Hills, it was not exactly the most comfortable home as Drake and her mother only occupied the bottom half of the house. Just like most Canadian kids, he once into hockey and even played some games with the Weston Red Wings. He attended Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, which whetted his appetite for acting. He then transferred to a tough school called Vaughan Road Academy. He had to drop out however, though he did go back to finish school years later when he already had successful career.
When he was 15 years old, Drake got a part in the Canadian television show called “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” His income from the show helped tide over the expenses, as his mother was only earning a teacher’s salary and had become very sick.He stayed in the show for eight years before his character finally graduated. By this time, he was already guesting on other shows as well, like “Blue Murder,” “Soul Food,” “The Border” and “Beyond the Break.”
Through it all, he would also visit his father in Memphis, a place where he would experience a lot of life-changing events. His father was arrested and jailed twice. While it was a tough time, Drake has managed to channel it into his songs that bear a lot of raw emotions and honest struggles.
Room for Improvement
While still in the show, Drake kept practicing his music while listening to the likes of Jay-Z, Mos Def and Maxwell. He released a mix tape in 2006 called “Room for Improvement,” which he acknowledged as lacking real substance but with a radio-friendly sound. The tape featured artists like Lupe Fiasco and Trey Songz.
He achieved a breakthrough in 2007 after the release of another mix tape called “Comeback Season.” It included “Replacement Girl” that featured Trey Songz once again. The song was featured on BET and made Drake the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have his own music video. It also featured a freestyle over “Man of the Year.”
The song impressed Lil Wayne, who then invited Drake to tour with him. The two recorded “Ransom,” which is the original version of “I Want You Forever” and a remix to the Drake song called “Brand New.”
By the time he released a third mix tape, Drake was already hot property. The mix tape “So Far Gone” included the hits “Best I Ever Had” and “Successful.” It became Drake’s critical and commercial breakthrough. “Best I Ever Had” went to number three in the Billboard charts. The mix tape was awarded the Rap Recording of the Year at the 2010 Junos.
Drake also found himself working with artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Timbaland, Rihanna, DJ Khaled and Jamie Foxx. He also wrote songs for Alicia Keys and Dr. Dre. And all these came before the release of his first album.
Thank Me Later
In June 2010, Drake’s first full-length studio album was finally released under Young Money Entertainment. It was supposed to be launched at the South Street Seaport in New York but it was cancelled due to overflowing crowd. The album sold more copies in its first week than any other hip hop artist had done before that. Featuring collaborations with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne, it went straight to number one in the album chart. It also featured the singles “Over,” which earned for him a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance, and “Find Your Love,” the most successful single from that album.
The following year, he released another album called “Take Care.” It featured several hit singles, including “Headlines,” “Take Care,” “Make Me Proud” and “The Motto.” The last song helped popularize the acronym YOLO, which stands for “You Only Live Once.”
Beef with Other Artists
Just like any other hip hop artist, Drake has been involved in quarrels and altercations with other rappers. His first battle came against Pusha T, who had called out Drake, Lil Wayne and the rest of the Young Money crew. Both Lil Wayne and Drake have answered back and they have not yet buried the hatchet.
Common also attacked Drake in a record entitled “Sweet.” The song included a diss on Nicki Minaj as well. Drake responded through his song called “Stay Schemin’” in which he basically accused Common of using him to sell records. Common’s album had tepid sales that was his lowest since his first album back in 2002. The two have since downplayed the incident as part of the art of hip hop.
Drake’s most publicized feud was with Chris Brown. The two actually went at it in the WIP Nightclub in the SoHo district in Manhattan. Brown suffered a cut after Drake and his entourage threw bottles at him. NBA star Tony Parker and an Australian tourist also suffered cuts and injuries, with Parker nearly losing his left eye. The feud apparently stemmed from their relationship with Rihanna. All charges related to the incident have been dropped, however.
Ludacris was the latest to take a jab at Drake. Ludacris targeted Drake, along with Shawn Jay and Big Sean in his song called “Bada Boom.”
Still, Drake can end up laughing all the way to the bank. His worldwide tour called “Club Paradise” raked it in in 2012 as it earned more than $42 million. it was considered the most successful hip hop tour of the year. He also owns the record for most number of songs to hit number one in the R&B and rap charts, with 12 and 10 respectively.
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