Often considered the voice of his generation, Aubrey “Drake” Graham is an unquestionably unstoppable force in the music and entertainment industries. His distinctive rap-confessional sound solidified albums like 2011’s Take Care and 2015’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late as subversive and memorable classics.
The raw, emotional transparency in his music has built him connections with millions of fans around the world. It’s no small wonder, either – after spending some time immersed in Drake’s intimate world of sound, one develops a sense of connectivity to the rapper’s struggles and triumphs, perhaps due in part to their own experiences that run parallel with Drake’s words.
In a way, Drake’s music is strategic – he invites you into his present and future through soulful, rhythmic depictions of his past. This leads fans to feel a special kind of deep admiration and respect for Drake as he ascends higher and higher – and empowers them to do the same.
While many of us obsess over the luxurious and bountiful nature of celebrity lifestyles, Drake’s illuminating lyrics often raise the question – do we really want to be Drake? After all, his life appears to be anything but straightforward.
The answer, of course, depends on the person. But, in the interest of providing some perspective, here are fifteen facts that shed some light on the struggles, hardships, and challenges that he faces behind the curtains, day in and day out.
15. He Was Sued By An Ex-Girlfriend And Ex-Collaborator
Marvin’s Room – a spacey eight-minute romantic confessional track appearing on Drake’s 2011 album, Take Care – demonstrated the captivating power of Drake’s narrative-driven songwriting. The track was a massive critical and commercial success, and was later chosen to lead the album.
However, several months later in 2012, all wasn’t well in Torontoland. Ericka Lee – female vocalist in the song and ex-girlfriend of Drake – revealed that Drake and his producers had not only used her voice in the song, but had withheld both royalties and co-writer credits on the track.
What followed was a back-and-forth legal debacle that ultimately ended in an out-of-court settlement. After making no further public comments on the matter, Drake would later comment on the dispute years later in the track Redemption on his 2016 album, Views.
14. Chris Brown Nightclub Altercation
Despite Drake’s seemingly charismatic and cordial nature, it’s hard for him to maintain friendships with everyone.
In 2012 at a New York City nightclub, tensions between Drake and musical artist Chris Brown came to a head. The two were in the VIP area of the club with their respective crews when suddenly bottles began flying, and punches were thrown.
After the chaos died down, Brown left with a visible gash on his chin and aired his grievances via Twitter, which he has since deleted. Drake made no public comment about the affair.
Years later, the motives behind the altercation are still unclear – although many speculate that the brawl was fueled at least in part by Drake’s intermittent relationship with Brown’s ex-lover, Rihanna.
13. Leaders Of His Faith Have Criticized His Music
Although his unique rapper-singer hybridization of sound earned him the spotlight, not everyone is a fan of Drake’s musical style.
When Drake set out to record the accompanying music video for his 2011 track, HYFR, he briefly rented out Temple Israel in Miami as the video’s location with initial approval from the temple’s president Ben Kuehne. The resulting video is an irreverent, bombastic recreation of his childhood bar mitzvah featuring the trifecta of rap cornucopia – that is, plenty of alcohol, expletives, and women.
However, soon after Kuehne reviewed the song’s lyrics, the Jewish president was quick to denounce the video.
“The complete video is certainly not consistent with Temple Israel’s longstanding history and reputation as a progressive voice in the Jewish Reform movement,” Kuehne stated in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“Temple Israel does not adopt, condone, or sponsor any aspect of the Drake video, and was not involved in its production.”
12. The Curious Case Of The Take Care Rolex Watch
As if there weren’t enough public controversies surrounding Drake’s 2011 album Take Care, here’s another one you might have missed the first time around.
Take Care’s album art is still iconic almost a decade later. However, for one lawyer in New York, the imagery was a little too eye-catching. Ostensibly after seeing the artwork for the first time, lawyer James McMillan was shocked to see Drake wearing his Rolex – the very same watch McMillan claimed to have purchased at a Rafaello & Co. store in 2009.
While McMillan’s exact watch probably wasn’t a unique make and model, the New York lawyer claimed that he had dropped off the watch for cleaning at Rafaello & Co. However, upon his return visit to pick up the watch, he was told that it had been sold to Drake himself.
To this day, individuals close to Drake report that he had never heard of Rafaello & Co. and that he had purchased the watch from Rolex directly.
Unlike Drake’s other stories, it’s still unclear how this one ends, exactly. We still don’t know how the lawsuit was handled, or if the charges were dropped.
11. Constant Public Scrutiny
Scary whenever I close my eyes at night
Wakin’ up to public statements about my private life
– Drake, Do Not Disturb
Drake just can’t seem to escape the criticism and negativity that surrounds him. As such, its dark presence in his life often finds its way into his lyrics. On IYRTITL’s signature track “Energy,” Drake addresses these haters and parasites with a stand-out lyric, serving as the song’s hook: I got enemies, got a lot of enemies/ Got a lot of people tryna drain me of my energy. Strategically, Drake weaves his own narrative through the song while leaving room for the listener to insert themselves. The lyric is relatable enough to apply to nearly anyone’s life. However, considering Drake’s particular position of power and influence, it’s no surprise that these mounting external pressures could prove severely emotionally draining on a level most of us could not possibly comprehend.
10. He Barely Sleeps
I don’t get much sleep and it’s not because I’m troubled, it’s because I’m blessed.
– Drake at his 30th birthday celebration
Drake seems to have a strained and difficult relationship with sleep, as several of his past lyrics divulge.
On Views opening track, “9”, Drake mentions not being able to sleep unless he takes one (whether this refers to a specific drug or alcohol is unclear).
And in his latest full release, More Life, he briefly dismisses the notion of taking naps on the fiery album highlight Gyalchester, seemingly prioritizing money instead.
With dozens of commitments and responsibilities, Drake’s life seems to be a continual balancing act of business, music, and relationships. Not content with his unprecedented success in music, the hip-hop legend also became the global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors in 2013, stacking his plate even higher.
9. Lack Of Love From His City
Despite remaining fiercely loyal to his hometown of Toronto, Drake is often shunned by the city he admires so dearly.
Drake has had several ongoing feuds with fellow pop-artist celebrity and Toronto local The Weeknd. Most recently, tensions grew between the two when Drake began dating The Weeknd’s ex-partner and supermodel Bella Hadid. However, at the present moment, the two Torontonians seem to be on good terms.
Drake has also stirred up trouble with Brampton-local rapper Tory Lanez after he made several inflammatory comments in 2015. Drake retaliated with multiple subliminal diss verses seemingly addressed to Lanez in his songs Summer Sixteen and Still Here, but never addresses Lanez directly by name.
Another Toronto rapper, Mo-G, has voiced his distaste for the treatment he received on behalf of Drake’s music label, OVO Sound. Mo-G claimed that Drake and co-manager Oliver El-Khatib had withheld payment for some work he had done via their label.
8. He Can’t Appear In Public
I have sacrificed things like the mall, but you know, I mean, I’ve sacrificed it for this, what more could I ask for?
-Drake, in an interview with Noisey
Somewhat ironically, Drake’s level of fame has made it impossible for him to walk around the city he so openly worships. He’s forced to enjoy the world around him in a somewhat secluded fashion – renting out clubs, atop stages, or behind tinted glass car windows.
In an interview with Noisey, he briefly laments losing the ability to visit malls, but he’s quick to restate his gratitude and love for the myriad of other privileges and perks his lifestyle provides.
7. Drake’s Love Life? It’s Complicated
Drake is infamous for his non-committal nature when it comes to women, and it often gets him in trouble.
He’s been the target of several pregnancy scandals, most of which have been subsequently disproven. However, that’s not including the cases which aren’t public – of which, there may be many more.
It’s unclear whether Drake has issues with commitment, or if his busy lifestyle is the culprit. But over the years, he’s dated dozens of women – and tied the knot with none of them.
Drake has had reported romantic connections with popstars Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and most recently, Jennifer Lopez. Many of these women (and others still) have found themselves immortalized as the subjects of his many songs over the years.
6. Beef With Rap’s Other Living Legend
As far as the contemporary rap-pop landscape, most would agree that Drake holds a high position of success and reverence. They might also agree that rap artist Kendrick Lamar holds a similar place in the spotlight. Often heralded as the “greatest rapper alive” by fans and critics, Lamar’s last several albums have been met with near-universal acclaim.
But between Kendrick and Drake, little love seems to exist. The two have collaborated several times in the past as far back as 2011 on Drake’s album, Take Care. Returning the favour in 2012, Drake appeared on Kendrick’s track Poetic Justice.
Fast-forward to 2013, when Kendrick released his hot-headed track Control, in which he proceeded to name-drop nearly a dozen other rappers, declaring his intentions to “murder” them – in sportsman-like lyrical fashion, of course. One of these shortlisted artists was none other than the six god himself, Drake.
After that, the previously steady relationship between the two seemed to dissolve. The beef between them involves a long-spanning history of lyrical back-and-forth, but in the end, it’s a shame the two rap prodigies couldn’t redirect their respective energies towards further collaboration. At the very least, we hope that they’ll eventually be able to hug it out as friends!
5. Recent Lukewarm Critical Reception
Although Drake’s early music projects earned him commercial success and widespread fame, his latest endeavours haven’t been received with equal amounts of enthusiasm by critics.
Views – Drake’s senior album release – followed hot on the heels of the success of If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late, Nothing Was The Same, and Take Care – all records that catapulted Drake into the mainstream.
Highly-anticipated and majorly marketed, Views released in 2016 to commercial success but was met with lukewarm response from critics. The album currently holds a 69 score on Metacritic, indicating mixed reviews.
In a review by the AV Club, Evan Rytlewski wrote that Drake had “done [Views] before and done it better.” MTV’s Meghan Garvey stated that “[Drake’s] unwillingness (or inability) to significantly evolve beyond his time-tested signature sound, clinging to the comfort of the same frosty 40 beats, zingy aphorisms, and perennial trust issues” was largely responsible for the album’s mixed reception.
Drake’s most recent project, More Life, a 22-track mixtape which Drake labelled a “playlist,” generally received a more favourable reception. In a later interview with DJ Semtex, Drake admitted that his work on Views was made difficult by the intense drama surrounding him at the time.
4. A History Of Strained Past Relationships
Drake has consistently spoken on the value of staying loyal to those in his life, even as he ascended his ladder of success. This lead to one of his many famous mantras, “no new friends,” popularized in his iconic and triumphant single, Started From The Bottom.
However, despite his best intentions, his past actions and rapid ascension in popularity and wealth have strained some of his earliest relationships. On Views track Redemption, he gives us brief insights into some of the emotional casualties of his turbulent career:
Sydney gave up on me when I went missin’
Syn had a baby and treated me different
Erika sued me and opened a business
Wonder if they wish it could’ve been different
Wonder what they’d do put in my position
I wonder, when my s*** drop, do they listen?
3. Threats Of Robbery
With an estimated net worth of $70 million in 2017, you can bet Drake is a ripe target for robbery, theft, and extortion.
In September of 2016, Drake and frequent collaborator Future were briefly relieved of a purported $3 million in jewelry when it was stolen from their tour bus.
And in 2011, before the release of Take Care, Drake was robbed at gunpoint in his hometown, losing $4000 and a new chain his mentor Lil Wayne had given him.
On a more comical note, Drake’s home was recently invaded by a 24-year-old woman who, after breaching the compound, swiped only a few beverages – seemingly sparing Drake’s more luxury-oriented items. It’s unclear what her motive was, but felony robbery charges are a high price to pay for a few drinks, no doubt!
2. Ghostwriting Allegations
A rap artist’s power lies in the lyrics they pen themselves, which is why it’s considered dishonourable to solicit the help of ghostwriters in the industry.
And in 2015 during the production of Views, Drake’s integrity as an artist was suddenly drawn into question by fellow rap artist and past collaborator Meek Mill, who claimed Drake’s contributions to his track RICO had been ghostwritten.
This ignited an ongoing feud between the two, which resulted in Drake releasing two diss tracks (Charged Up and Back To Back) and Meek Mill releasing a track of his own (Wanna Know).
It’s unclear whether or not Drake has adopted ghostwriting into his work, but given his busy schedule and extensive songwriting credits on his most recent albums, the allegation does hold some weight. The controversy proved burdensome enough to interfere with the recording of Views, as Drake admitted himself in an OVO Sound interview with DJ Semtex.
1. Trouble In The Streets
Drake regularly declares his love for the city that raised him – but like most places, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the six. There’s danger lurking in every corner, and knowing the wrong people at the wrong time can spell certain doom for you and yours.
Enter Anthony Soares, a close friend of Drake who shot dead in September of last year while waiting inside a Scarborough apartment foyer. The incident appeared to be targeted, but police have yet to identify the assailants.
Drake – who was spotted at Soares funeral – has since made no comments about the incident, aside from a post on Instagram sharing his condolences. Toronto Police have advocated that he spread their requests for information on the case to his social media accounts, but the rapper has held his tongue.
Whether Drake’s lack of transparency is due to a commitment to an omerta-style code of ethics or something deeper is unknown to the public.
However, Drake did shed some light on the issue of cooperating with authorities in his song, No Tellin’, which appeared on his 2015 mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late:
Yeah, police comin’ round lookin’ for some help on a case they gotta solve, we never help ’em.
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