Celebrity 360: Drake

You’ve heard us speak of the balanced 360-degree Notable life – all of our YPs strive to achieve a balance of professionalsocialcharity and living life. To feed your weekly guilty indulgence of both male and female eye candy, coupled with 360- degree inspiration, we will profile a different celeb each week that we feel embodies this. This week’s profile is about a Toronto man the entire music world is all to familiar with: the always impressive Drake. 

There is no doubt that Drake’s career has been met with soaring success. Born Aubrey Drake Brown in Toronto in 1986, Drake first caught the attention of the Canadian entertainment world when he was cast as Jimmy Brooks in the Canadian teen sensation Degrassi: The Next Generation. He played a basketball star who was left in a wheelchair after being shot by a classmate, a role that lasted for seven seasons. 

Although he didn’t achieve widespread musical fame until after Degrassi ended, Drake had been releasing music since the mid 2000s. In February 2006, he released his first mixtape, Room for Improvement, via his website and official MySpace page. From its success and buzz, he began releasing more. In 2007, he released Comeback Season to critical acclaim and became the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have his music video featured on BET. It was from here on where Graham started gaining popularity when he did his first song with Lil Wayne. In 2008, he released Heartbreak Drake, yet again a popular release.

In June 2009, when Degrassi ended as his character graduated, Drake signed a recording contract with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment. In November 2009, Lil Wayne released a statement announcing that Drake’s first studio album, Thank Me Later, had been completed. The album was released on June 15, 2010, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. It has since gone platinum. He released his second studio album on November 15, 2011, titled Take Care.

Perhaps one of the most impressive things about Drake is the caliber of artists he has been fortunate enough to work with in his relatively short career. He has worked with renowned hip-hop artists like Lil Wayne, Kanye West, Eminem, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and, of course, Rihanna. He has been nominated for several Grammys and performed at the 2010 awards. Drake has received countless accolades, including two Juno Awards in 2010 for Best New Artist and Rap Recording of the Year. 

Drake has worn a few hats in the music industry, also working a composer. He has written for other artists like Alicia Keys and Jamie Foxx, among others and recently expressed his desire to get back into acting and has signed with Hollywood’s prestigious William Morris Agency.

Among certain Toronto circles, Drake is an active social fixture and remains close with many of the friends he grew up with in Toronto’s Forrest Hill neighbourhood. He makes an effort to attend friends’ charity events and spends a great deal of time home in Toronto. Unlike most of young Hollywood, especially those who have met quick fame, Drake has not followed a destructive path; and while he is known to party among bottles in the VIP, he doesn’t get sloppy or out of line. 

Drake has dated a string of multi-talented and some very famous women, all of whom he has been vocal about the degree of respect he has for. Early on in his career, he spoke publicly about his love and admiration for ex Keshia Chante, who made her way into a few of his songs. He has recently called rumoured fling Nicki Minaj his “ideal woman.” He attributes much of this respect and grace for women to his relationship with his mother.

Drake is actively involved in giving back to society and is a regular performer in charity concerts. He participates in many hometown Toronto charity events. On December 26, 2010, he hosted a charity party at a Toronto restaurant and club afterward with proceeds benefitting The Lincoln Rising, an initiative aimed at underwriting medical treatments for Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP). This disorder of the peripheral nervous system has debilitated Drake’s longtime friend Lincoln J. Russell.

Drake was part of the Artists for Haiti project, in which various Canadians came together to remake K’Naan’s “Wavin’ Flag” anthem. Last March, Bill Clinton invited him to perform at a Clinton Foundation fundraiser to benefit the Millennium Network. Drake was honoured for his charity work at Canada’s 2011 Walk of Fame Awards where he will received the Allan Slaight Award. The award is given to young Canadian philanthropists who have made a difference in the entertainment industry. Drake donated the $10,000 cheque for charity as part of the prize, which went to a community centre in Toronto.

Drake lives a life rich with experiences and one ingrained with his African-Canadian and Jewish culture. Drake has stated that his parents’ divorce when he was twelve affected him as a person, forcing him to grow up quickly and be the backbone for his mother. It is perhaps because of this bond with his mother that Drake’s songs are more watered down in the disrespect for women department. He has learned from his father, the type he does not want to be one day. Drake remains devoted to his family: in July 2010, he postponed his entire European tour because of his mother’s illness.

Drake celebrates his unique cultural background. He has said that, at the end of the day, he identifies more with black culture than any other because he is immersed with it. He stays true to his Jewish roots as well and celebrates the Jewish holidays with his mother. 

It’s no secret that Drake is a sports fan and is a regular at Raptors games when home in Toronto. He is a fan of the Kentucky Wildcats and friends with the team’s head coach John Calipari. He makes appearances at the University of Kentucky men’s basketball events and games. On April 27, 2010, Drake returned to the University of Kentucky to perform a concert. Last month, Drake performed his track “Headlines” on ice during the second intermission of the NHL All-Star Game here in Canada.

Among close friends and industry insiders alike, Drake is known for his humble demeanor in person, which is slightly different than the Drake we know from his music. He is a unique fixture in hip-hop and has embraced that uniqueness. He has been criticized for his “un-hip-hop” way of dressing and for his love of sweaters and that his music was too soft compared to more hardcore hip-hop. Despite it all, Drake keeps going and doing what he does best, ignoring the banter and making great music.