Many wonder how someone such as Aubrey Graham could have transitioned from acting to music when so many others have tried and fail. The answer is simple. He was never that good of an actor in the first place.
Drake is a household name to most young adults, but Audrey Graham is a different story. Aubrey's start in the entertainment industry came when he was cast in the role of Jimmy Brooks, the attracti-
Eh... exceptional jock on the TV show Degrassi: The Next Generation. Years went by and Degrassi, being about the bullshit problems of teenagers, grew in popularity simply because there weren't too many other shows out there taking itself as laughably serious as Degrassi had especially considering they had whole episodes devoted to the use of a penis pump.
Pictured: Nickelodeon's newest ad campaign
Now I'm gonna quit bullshitting and just admit that I did watch this show... a lot. And while a lot of the time, the show was a little too dramatic, credit must still be given to it for being one of the few kids shows to address issues like spousal abuse, drug abuse (in a truthful way), teen pregnancy, and the mother of all hot button teen topics: school shootings.
With that being said, one of the most memorable episodes of Degrassi centered around a returning student who had previously been known to beat his girlfriend who was the well-liked fat chick at the school. Upon returning, all of the students in the school banded together to collectively rain shit upon this kid. And while at first Jimmy (Drake) joined every other student in school in berating the kid, after the two were forced to work together for a knowledge bowl he eventually warmed up to the guy. With this new found sense of forgiveness, Jimmy went back to convince his friends that everyone deserves a second chance and eventually they all accepted the kid as an equal and everything turned out fine...
Just kidding. The kid shot Jimmy and went on a rampage until he was murdered in self-defense... by accident.
Somewhere, Ghostface Killah is watching this and laughing.
This episode was notable because, well, there's a fucking school shooting and also because the shooting in question had true consequences for nearly everyone involved, but no one more than Jimmy. In the blink of an eye, Jimmy went from being the star basketball player and an all around stiff and cliched character to a wheelchair bound stiff and cliched character. Episodes centering around Jimmy contemplating whether or not to cheat on a test to get qualifying grades to play in the big game soon morphed into episodes about him trying to get a stiffy on command again... seriously.
The reason I bring this up is because about the same time Jimmy got shot Aubrey, no doubt realizing the writers weren't willing to work hard enough to give him a substantial role, began focusing more on rapping. At the time, rapping to Aubrey was only a hobby that he would do on the phone with a friend of his father's who was in prison. But around about 2006 in Toronto he began getting a little bit of attention because of his mixtape "Room For Improvement."
As far as I know this is Drake's first single ever to get some notoriety. I like it because it reminds me of an ice cream truck.
This was actually when I first heard of Drake the rapper. Now, I would love to tell you that I was being open and eclectic and just happened to come across this mixtape on a rap blog, but alas I was watching a Degrassi behind the scenes look into the actors lives and there he was rapping. Upon seeing this, the first thing I did was get in full hater mode and run straight to Aubrey's myspace ready to rip apart all of his rhymes. But upon listening I realized that the guy wasn't half bad and that I couldn't in good conscience make fun of him... so I did it in bad conscience.
Wannabe rapper FAGGOT!!! - Me circa 2006
But self-hating soap opera fans like me aside, Drake had bigger problems considering the fact that the only buzz he had was in Canada which pretty much holds as much weight to the rest of the world as well anything having to do with Canada. And so Aubrey had two options: give up and focus on an acting career based entirely around a 17 year old gimmick to force drama, or go back to the drawing board and keep chasing a dream in hopes that maybe, just maybe, some one might hear him...
Wait, wait, hold up nigga shhh... I think I hear destiny.
So the year was 2007 and despite all previous efforts, the only other name our boy Aubrey had become known by was Jimmy. Surprisingly enough, his character had been getting some hefty screen time being the only character in the original class still at the high school due to his hospital time holding him back a year. The real reason was that the series regulars got older and the producers wanted to introduce a new cast, which if history has taught us anything, is about as good an idea as betting on Tiger Woods to successfully pull off a sand save.
That's right. A legitimate jab at Tiger Woods' golf game. Don't be mad because you didn't think of it first.
Unfortunately, music wise Jimmy still had yet to drop another mixtape. Couple that with the fact that at the time no one cared and even the handicapped, being the soulless vortexes of selfish pity that they are, could themselves empathize with the future Grammy winner. But our boy had a couple tricks up his sleeve in that even though as an album "Room For Improvement" failed to peaked any interest , a few choice "remixes" on the mixtape did break through to a few notable people.
Now I'm going to stop for a moment to explain the significance of me putting the word "remix" in quotes. You see there's this trick that some up and coming rappers use now where they jump on all ready established artists instrumentals, but not only include the chorus of the original song, but often whole verses creating the illusion of a consenting collaboration and giving struggling artists a chance to upgrade to bullshitters. In essence, it's the equivalent of sitting through an artist's entire performance and at the last second jumping up on stage to pose next to the artist for promo shots and credibility.
Hey you remember that song Jay-Z recorded with Lil' Mama? Me neither.
But where most artists shoot for the moon with their "remixes" often resulting in laughably shitty results, Jimmy chose more wisely which is where I feel the true talent of Drake as an artist comes from. The thing is no matter what level he is at Drake knows his place and how to cater to that fan base. So in the beginning realizing that he was at a level lower than the bottom of the barrel, rather then horribly piece together a verse on Busta Rhymes' Mega-hit "Touch It" Jimmy smartly chose to bullshit with up and coming artists with moderate buzz, and because of this when those artists songs started to get a little steam so did their very few remixes featuring you guessed it... Our boy Jimmy.
This limited, but promising exposure gave Jimmy a hand full of connections to established artists. One artist in particular was Trey Songz also known as thatguywho... well he really hasn't done anything to stand out really but he is notable.
Note: Having braids way past the expiration date does not count.
Anyways, Trey and Drake met up and one can only assume hit it off and became sort of an underground duo. The two honestly were the same guy in two different genres Both being extremely talented but also extremely underrated. And for the record, I stand by my statement about Trey Songz not standing out but honestly he probably has the strongest voice out of all of the R&B singers. The relationship between Drake and Trey Songz can be summed by the impact of their first single together. For those who think I'm going to say "Successful" please go somewhere and kill yourself you bandwagon jumping douches. No the first single the duo ever released which was also Drake's first single to chart on anything was "Replacement Girl."
This video is exactly what you'd expect a rap video to be like. That is also why you've most likely never seen it before.
Now to be fair, the song itself never charted, but the video did become the first video from an unsigned Canadian artist to appear on BET's 106 and Park which I would make a joke about, but I'm just not that goddamn funny. But all hypothetical jokes aside, Jimmy's next mixtape "Comeback Season" was a dramatic step up in quality, and lyrically, a changing of the guard seeing Drake's formerly quick paced metaphors exchanged for more melodic flows and memorable punchlines. The mixtape also featured cameos not only by Songz but Robin Thicke, Rich Boy, and many other popular (at the time) artists.
This was the point where I became a true fan because Drake to me at the time had that perfect commercial appeal and lyrical capability that was not to be taken lightly. Just to add some background here is a pretty much unheard song of his that is probably my favorite to this day that portrays Drake in pure form.
And so Jimmy had his buzz but had still yet to find the exposure that he and many of his fans (me included) felt he deserved... That was until "A Mili" happened.
*cough* *cough* Shhhhh!!!! Okay now I know I heard destiny that time.
Nigga, will you shut the fuck up and pass the blunt?
2007 was a fairly prosperous year for Drake, but unfortunatelty he still had yet to reach that international exposure he so desired. And so 2008 came along and with it a tsunami of massive musical proportions by the name of Lil' Wayne.
2008 was Lil' Wayne's year. Love him or hate him, you cannot deny that. It was hit, after hit, after hit to the tenth power and then some. Probably his most monstrous hit of the year (it won a Grammy for it) was "A Milli." The song was gift and curse, the gift being that A Milli had such a vibrant and commanding beat, and the curse being that it apparently commanded every rapper and a few R&B singers to freestyle over it. As you assumed already, Drake was one of the many to freestyle over the beat and apparently the freestyle was so impressive that the owner of legendary Houston rap label "Rap-A-Lot" J Prince sent it to Lil' Wayne himself to no response. Upon asking Lil' Wayne later if he'd heard it Wayne said he had and that it was wack.
Knowing Lil' Wayne was full of shit J Prince called him on it and Wayne admitted he was sick of hearing other rapper's freestyles and stopped listening to them. J Prince proceeded to show him Drake's and immediately after hearing it Lil' Wayne called Drake who I like to think was sitting in a wheelchair rehearsing lines and told him to get on a plane and get the fuck down to America. Drake went on tour with Wayne for a few weeks and recorded a couple songs; the most notable from the period of time no doubt was "Ransom"
But even with such a powerful co-sign Drake still wasn't seen as much other than Wayne's new flavor of the month. Wayne himself at the time never explicitly confirmed whether or not he was even that interested in Drake as an artist... That was until the VMA's that year.
Those of you who have listened to the radio in the past year know that verse Wayne spat in "Missunderstood" was Drake's from the Baby song "Money To Blow" featuring Drake and Lil' Wayne, but early Drake fans know this as Drake's single verse song that dropped earlier in the year. At the time of course only the latter had any idea what was going on even with the very subtle "Drizzy Drake I Love you BOYYY!!!" It wasn't until afterwards that word got out about this Drizzy Drake guy.
2008 turned into 2009 and Drake had some hefty momentum and a very much anticipated mixtape "So Far Gone" prepped for release. February 13, 2009 the "mixtape heard around the world" dropped and... well nothing happened. I of course got it right away and loved it but most still were too lazy to actually download the mixtape and while it was praised it wasn't until 4 months later when "Best I Ever Had" randomly became a hit that it got any real media coverage and I only say randomly because well it was pretty fucking random. I mean I could go on a rant on how the softest song on the mixtape got the most shine but you could go to so many other sites and hear that so I'll just give you a listen to one of my favorites on the mixtape in case you haven't heard anything but BIEHN (yea I added "N" I just really wanted the abbreviation to be the guy who played Kyle Reese's last name.) Anyways here is my choice for song of the album.
This is Drake's entire career summed up in one song.
After BIEHN took off, so began what I personally think was the most shameless demonstration of dick-riding I have ever seen. Keep in mind that not even six months ago Drake was a nobody and any label that did want him wanted to change him. I'll sum it up for you. You create quality music for three years to no response but deliver ONE bland summer hit single and suddenly...
Mary J. Blige thinks you're swell...
Jamie Foxx thinks you're the "New Movement"
And to top it all off...
Jay-muthafuckin-Z becomes your hype man at concerts and features you on his next album.
Now let me clarify myself, I am not unhappy with these things happening because of course I always felt Drake deserved this exposure. Where I and lot of other people are coming from when we call bullshit is that we saw this promise all the way back in 2007 with Comeback Season. Are you telling me "Best I Ever Had" was the game changer that made everybody that was somebody in the music industry see the potential. Jay-Z is my favorite rapper hands down but I'll be the first one to tell him to go suck a dick somewhere for putting Drake on his album on the merit of only one hit. More shameless attempts at appealing to the new generation followed and before you knew it Drake soon had every label throwing deals at him. In a smart move Drake opted to sign to Lil' Wayne's label knowing Wayne would respect him as an artist and give him a butt-fuck-load of money (4 million to be precise) and Drake has been pushing forward towards his debut album ever since.
The year is 2010 and with two singles sitting comfortably high on the billboard charts, Drake is still currently on top, on an international tour, and his debut album "Thank Me Later" is set to be released on June 15th.
Until that day all bets are off on Drake's future. I know I'll be in line to buy the album. As the release date approaches everyone has made predictions about the album either selling millions the first week or ultimately becoming a hydrogen bomb of bullshit but personally, whether he fucks it up or not. I'm proud of him and happy to be a fan.
He better not fuck it up though.
To answer the question posed by one of two readers (out of 5000) kind enough to post something (thanks guys). No. Drake indeed did not fuck it up. Sure, I could go on about the relevance of the undertones in Thank Me Later, or about whether or not in the long run Drake has truly solidified himself as a quality artist, but all that philisophical artistic jargon tends to go out the window when said artist goes MOTHERFUCKING PLATINUM BITCHES!!!
Shitty Pretentious Hip(ster) Hop:
And so Drake is rich as shit and currently working on his second album "Take Care" which is rumored return him to his "Comeback Season" roots and reportedly only featuring two other artists one of which is confirmed to be Phonte of Little Brother fame and the other is heavily believed to be Andre' 3000 who was known to be the one muscian not willing to happily jump on some Drizzy dick before he proved his worth. The details are still in the early stages but for now I feel at least Drake's fans can breathe easy knowing that out of all the overly hyped rappers coming out, we were smart enough to bet on the ex-soap opera star...
Now tell me how many times in life you get to say that phrase and mean it?