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Toronto Rap Icons - EP1: Drake

Updated: Aug 6, 2022

"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 sort of a cool twisting. It makes me unique."– Drake

Early Life

Born to a mixed-race couple in Canada in 1986, and raised Jewish. Drake build his personality foundation between multiple cultures which helped in shaping his cognitive flexibility which will help him later as a rapper to move between different styles as a bee.

Drake was raised by biracial parents. His father, Dennis Graham, is a Catholic African American; his mom, Sandra, is white and Ashkenazi Jewish Canadian, they divorced when Drake was 5. His father's family had a deep background in music, his grandmother, who lived in Memphis, used to babysit Louie Armstrong while his father was a drummer for Jerry Lee Lewis. Drake wasn’t the first of the family who embraces music, but he was the first and the only to become an icon.

Drake was raised by his mother after she divorced when the little Drake was 5. He’s describing her as ‘’ Godlike’’, they grow up as a poor little family who lived on Weston Road, ‘’That's near the west end of the city. It's not the friendliest neighborhood in the world. I grew up there," he told Complex in 2011.

Drake The Actor

Drake started his career as an actor in the Canadian TV series 'Degrassi: The Next Generation in 2001, after the father of one of his friends, and acting agent, offered him a role in the Canadian drama series '. He was most recognized for playing wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks in Degrassi. Drake appeared in 138 episodes of the series between 2001-2009.

And like many successful TV shows, Degrassi eventually hit the big screen for a 'Spring Break' movie in 2008. Drake replayed his character Jimmy for the film.

In Season 4 of Degrassi Aubrey and his co-star, Stacey starred as themselves in a 'webisode' where they polled each other and dragged about LA.

In 2007, Drake performed A / V Jones in the film Charlie Bartlett, the film plot was about a kid that becomes a psychiatrist during high school.

In 2008, Drake quit acting to pursue music and make more effort clamping rap hierarchy. He did his final appearance in the eighth season of "Degrassi."

Drake’s Rap First Appearance

Drake made his first step into rap by releasing his first mixtape “Room for Improvement” on February 14, 2006.

It was a self-released mixtape under the label All Things Fresh, which would eventually become Drake’s self-founded label October’s Very Own, or OVO.

The mixtape sold 6000 copies in 2006 and features 23 tracks, most of which were produced by the Canadian producer Boi-1da, a producer who is a long-time companion and musical partner of Drake.

On October 24th, 2007, Drake released his second mixtape “Comeback Season”. It was released under Drake’s October’s Very Own label and was the last project that Drake released as a solo artist. The tape features 24 tracks, most of its songs were produced by the same producer as his first mixtape, the Canadian producer Boi-1da.

On February 13th, 2009, Drake released his third mixtape, ‘’So Far Gone’’, once again under his own label “October’s Very Own”.

’’So Far Gone’’ marked as a masterpiece. A new star was born, and the mixtape obviously took him to another level, his first step to the first line, with rap legends.

The mixtape has 18 tracks and was mostly influenced by Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak, which had been released a few months earlier in 2008.

’’So Far Gone’’ success helped to jumpstart the careers of Drake and his producer Boi-1da.

2009, A New Star Was Born

Drake’s success in 2009 undoubtedly did not end with the release of his third mixtape. Following the release of So Far Gone, Drake—who was an independent artist—started to grab the attention of major record labels in the US, quickly leading to war to get the young star's signature.

In the end, Lil Wayne, the owner of Young Money Entertainment, signed Drake to the label in 2009 by offering him a $2 million advance.

By 2010, Drake was more than an upcoming star in the rap game, he was into the game with a powerful foundation and there was much anticipation for his debut studio album, Thank Me Later, which he had first revealed on a tour with Lil Wayne and Young Money.

Thank Me Later was one of the most awaited albums of 2010, and it lived up to the hype.

Thank Me Later was released on June 15th, 2010, and was certified platinum in Canada in less than a week.

In addition to his talent, signing to a major record label in the industry opened doors open him. Year after year, he showed the world what the unique Drake could do.

Drake is marking his name with legends of the game with a discography that consists of seven studio albums, three compilation albums, four extended plays, seven mixtapes, 139 singles including 80 as a featured artist, and five promotional singles, and 84 music videos.


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