Friday, July 19, 2024


Drake poses for pictures on red carpet at Sugar Factory.

Drake has become a leading voice in hiphop, with the fusion of bravado and sensitivity that has defined his work.

Drake — born close to 31 years ago as Aubrey Drake Graham of Toronto, Canada — is one of the world’s preeminent rappers.

He got his big break on BET’s “106 and Park, after a stint as one of the most sought-after mixtape guest superstars in the business. In the last decade, Drake has had a string of number-one albums (“Thank Me Later” and the Grammy-winning “Take Care” among them), platinum-sellers, barrier-breakers, and global bangers that include “One Dance,” “Hotline Bling,” “What’s My Name,” “Best I Ever Had,” “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” “Started From the Bottom,” “Fake Love,” “Freak In You,” and “Furthest Thing.”

That’s astounding commercial success and artistic output — and Drake believes it all reflects the character and experiences of his hometown. “When I think of myself, I think of Toronto,” he says. “My music would never sound the way it does if it weren’t for Toronto.”

Drake has been praised for his sensitive, introspective approach to rhyming — and his crossover appeal has helped hip-hop surpass pop as the leading cultural force.

His success as a songwriter, says Drake, pivots on the approach he takes into the studio. “I push myself in a lot of aspects when I write a song. I write a piece and where most people would stop and say, ‘Oh, that’s the hook right here,’ I’ll move that to the first four bars of the verse and do a new hook,” he said. “I would say that I am more moved by melody, even though I love to rap.”

But like all game-changing artists, Drake’s creative life is sometimes defined by delicious contradictions. His impressive roster of brash collaborators — Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky to name just a few — does not necessarily track closely with his influences. My favorite artists always documented emotions. Such as: Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Sade and Aaliyah.”

Drake gives a performance in the Bellagio fountains at the Billboard Music Awards.

Drake recently enjoyed his defining Las Vegas moment, when the Bellagio fountains were the backdrop for his live performance of the hit “Gyalchester” at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. On that night, he was named Artist of the Year, and broke the Billboard Music Awards record for most awards in a single year. He was joined onstage by his father and friends like Nicki Minaj and Weezy F. Baby.

Part of the festivities were celebratory bottles of Drake’s new product, Virginia Black Whiskey — which he created with his business partner, Brent Hocking. According to Drake, the liquor represents a lifestyle, “We believe everyone should have access to glamour, swagger and soul,” he said. “Virginia Black grants them that access, allowing people to embody the lifestyle always, not just on special occasions.”

It seems that the Canadian-born former teen actor has come south and found the American dream. At the end of the day, Drake sees his success as a product of hard work.

Drake gives a performance in the Bellagio fountains at the Billboard Music Awards.

Says the superstar: “Perfection to me is, I walk away from a situation and say, ‘I did everything I could do right. There was nothing more that I could do.’ I was a hundred percent. The meter was at the top. There was nothing else I could have done. You know? Like, I worked as hard as I possibly could have. That’s perfection.”

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