Aubrey Drake Graham is a Canadian rapper who is well known for playing wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks on ‘Degrassi: The Next Generation’ and for hit songs like “Hotline Bling” “One Dance” and “Take Care.”
Who is Drake?
Drake is a Canadian rapper, singer, and actor. He first became prominent when he starred as Jimmy Brooks in the CTV teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001-2008). After leaving the show and signing a deal with Lil Wayne’s label Young Money Entertainment, he became one of the biggest rappers. He has been credited for popularizing singing and R’n’B sensibilities in hip hop. In 2012, Drake founded the OVO Sound record label with longtime collaborator 40. He is currently ranked among the world’s best-selling music artists, with over 170 million records sold.
Drake was born on 24 October 1986 in Toronto, Ontario. His father, Dennis Graham, an African-American, worked as a drummer who performed with country musician Jerry Lee Lewis. His mother, Sandra “Sandi” Graham, a Canadian, worked as a florist and an English teacher. Dennis Graham met Sandra while performing at Club Bluenote in Toronto.
Drake is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States and also comes from an eclectic and unique ethnic and religious background. Drake’s father is a practicing catholic from Memphis, Tennessee, while his mother is a white Canadian Jew. Drake attended a Jewish day school in his youth and became a bar mitzvah. Talking about his personal identity, Drake said, “At the end of the day, I consider myself a Black man because I’m more immersed in Black culture than any other. Being Jewish is kind of a cool twist. It makes me unique.”
At age five, Drake’s parents divorced, so he and his mother remained in Toronto while his father retired to Memphis, where he was incarcerated due to drug-related charges. Before his arrest, Drake’s father would travel to Toronto and take Drake to Memphis every summer.
Drake was raised in two Toronto neighborhoods; Weston Road and Forest Hill. Drake replied when asked about the move, “We had 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 attended Forest Hill Collegiate Institute. He demonstrated an affinity for the arts while at school. He later attended Vaughan Road Academy, where he was always bullied for his racial and religious background. Drake described the school as “not by any means the easiest school to go to.” He graduated in October 2012.
Degrassi: The Next Generation
Drake was introduced to a high school friend’s father, an acting agent when he was fifteen years old. He was given a role in the Canadian teen drama series Degrassi: The Generation, where Drake played Jimmy Brooks, a basketball star who became physically disabled after one of his classmates shot him.
The executive director of the Californian non-profit organization Wheelchair 4 Kids, Madeleine Robinson praised Drake’s performance and the storyline, noting that “he instilled confidence and representation to disabled youth.” Drake said about his early acting career, “My mother was very sick. We were very poor like broke. The only money I had coming in was from Canadian TV.”
From 2001 to 2008, Drake appeared in a total of 100 episodes. He expressed interest in playing Barack Obama in a biopic in 2010. In response to Drake, Obama approved in an interview in 2020.
So Far Gone
Drake released his third mixtape, So Far Gone, in 2009, which featured Bun B, Lloyd, Omarion, Trey Songz, and Lil Wayne. The mixtape was made available for free download through his OVO blog website. During the first two hours of release, the mixtape garnered over 2,000 downloads and found mainstream commercial success from the singles “Successful” and “Best I Ever Had.” The lead singles gained Gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIIA), prompting the mixtape’s re-release as an EP that featured only four songs from the original along with some additional songs like “Fear” and “I’m Goin’ In.” The mixtape won the Rap Recording of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards.
Drake became the subject of a bidding war from various labels as a result of the success of the mixtape. In addition, on June 29, 2009, it was rumored that Drake had secured a recording contract with Young Money Entertainment. It was later confirmed after a planned lawsuit from Young Money in relation to Drake following an unauthorized fake album titled The Girls Love Drake that was released on iTunes.
In 2009, Drake went on America’s Most Wanted Tour with the rest of the label’s roster. However, he fell on stage and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a performance of “Best I Ever Had.” Later that year, Drake underwent surgery.
Thank Me Later
Drake released his debut album, Thank Me Later, in 2010. His debut single “Over” peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Rap Songs chart. The song also received a nomination for Best Rap Solo Performace at the 53rd Grammy Awards. He then released his second single, “Find Your Love,” which also became a major success. It was number five on the Hot 100 and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Thank Me Later debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold over 447,000 copies in its first week. Just after the album was released, about 25,000 fans gathered at New York City’s South Street Seaport for a free concert hosted by Drake and Hanson, though the police later canceled it following riots caused by the overflowing crowds. The album featured Kanye West, Jay Z, and Lil Wayne.
On November 15, 2011, Drake released another album, Take Care, which received positive reviews from music critics. John McDonnell of NME called it “an affecting masterpiece” and commended its “delicate. Mellifluous sound and unashamedly candid, emotive lyrics.” Greg Kot, a Chicago Tribune writer complimented the depth of Drake’s “moral psychodramas” and stated, “the best of it affirms that Drake is shaping a pop persona with staying power.” Aside from achieving great commercial success, the album won Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards and was certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA in 2016.
Ahead of the June release of his fifth studio album, Scorpion, Drake dropped two singles, “I’m Upset” and “Nice For What,” in 2018. He also revealed a diss track, “Duppy Freestyle,” in response to rapper Pusha-T’s accusation that he relied on a ghostwriter for his lyrics.
The album featured contributions from Jay-Z and Future, as well as what was reported to be previously unreleased music from Michael Jackson on the track “Don’t Matter to Me.” Within its first 24 hours, Scorpion garnered a total of 170 million streams on Apple Music and another 132 million on Spotify, as reported by the Associated Press.
In late 2019, it was announced that Drake was entering the cannabis space with a new marijuana line More Life Growth Company, that would mainly produce and distribute herbal treats in Toronto. A press release described the company as “centered around wellness, discovery, and overall personal growth with the hope of facilitating connections and shared experiences across the globe.”
Personal Life: Relationships
Drake was in an on-and-off relationship with Rihanna from 2009 to 2016. In almost every one of his studio albums, Drake has mentioned his relationship with Rihanna. When presenting Rihanna with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award in 2016, Drake said, “she’s a woman I’ve been in love with since I was 22 years old.” Drake also commented about his relationship during the talk show, The Shop:
“As life takes shape and teaches you your own lessons, I end up in this situation where I don’t have the fairy tale of ‘Drake started a family with Rihanna; it’s so perfect.’ It looks so good on paper and I wanted it too at one time.”
Drake shares a son, Adonis Graham, born on October 11, 2017, with a French model and retired adult film actor Sophie Brussaux.