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Aubrey Drake Graham (born October 24, 1986) is a Canadian actor, rapper and singer. He is best known for playing Jimmy Brooks, the physically disabled character on Degrassi: The Next Generation. As a rapper, he performs under the mononym Drake, and is often billed as the new version of The Fresh Prince. After rumours of signing with Young Money Entertainment, it was later confirmed that Drake is only affiliated with the label, and he is currently signed to Cash Money and Universal Motown Records. He is managed by Hip Hop Since 1978.
Drake’s Early life and career
Drake was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Dennis Graham, a drummer who worked with Jerry Lee Lewis; his uncle is musician Teenie Hodges. His father is African American (a native of Memphis, Tennessee) and his mother is a white Jewish Canadian. His parents divorced when he was five, and he was raised by his mother in Toronto’s wealthy Forest Hill neighbourhood, attending elementary school at Forest Hill Public School, and high school at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, where he began acting. He also spent many summers with his father in Memphis.
Drake’s Acting career
In 2001, Graham began his acting career, playing the role of Jimmy Brooks, a character on Degrassi: The Next Generation. His role on the show ended in 2009, when producers cut the entire Degrassi staff for a new group of actors.
Drake’s Music career
In February 2006, Drake released his first mixtape Room for Improvement. It was made available via his website and official MySpace page. From the success of his first mixtape, he later began releasing more, capitalizing from the buzz.
In 2007, he released Comeback Season to much critical acclaim and praise. It was from here on where Graham started gaining popularity when he did his first song with Lil Wayne, a remix of the already popular song “Man of the Year” which Wayne didn’t rap in but had ad-libs in the end of the song. In 2008, he released Heartbreak Drake, yet again a popular release and gaining more acclaim and buzz for the artist. So Far Gone, which included Drake’s mentor Lil Wayne, and members of Young Money, was released in 2009. Also in 2007, Graham became the first unsigned Canadian rapper to have his music video featured on BET when his first single, “Replacement Girl” was featured as the “Joint of the Day” in April 2007.
While working on his mixtapes and his album, Drake has worked with Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Trey Songz, Robin Thicke, Little Brother, Mary J. Blige, and Jamie Foxx. Drake has also written for Jazz Cartier, Bishop Brigante and Dr. Dre.
He has achieved this success without even signing to a major record label, according to his management Hip Hop Since 1978. In June 2009, it was revealed that an unauthorized album entitled The Girls Love Drake and credited to Drake was up for sale on iTunes. A lawsuit is planned against the label.
On the Billboard Hot 100 chart of July 4, 2009, both “Best I Ever Had” and “Every Girl” by Young Money Entertainment (a supergroup that includes Drake) entered the top ten at positions 3 and 10 respectively. Drake is only the second artist to have his first two top ten hits in the same week. The first was fellow Canadian Nelly Furtado who entered the top ten in 2001 with “I’m Like A Bird” the same week as Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On”, a remix of which included a credited contribution from Furtado.
Should “Best I Ever Had” reach the #1 position, Drake could be only the second artist to have a #1 single without having a recording contract. The first was Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories with “Stay (I Missed You)” in 1993.
On June 29, 2009 it was confirmed Drake signed a record deal with Cash Money/Universal/Motown, which was considered “one of the biggest bidding wars ever”. He plans to release his official debut album, Thank Me Later, in late 2009, and has confirmed collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Lil Wayne.
So Far Gone
February 13, 2009, Drake Graham released his third official mixtape title “So Far Gone”. The mixtape went for free download on his blog site which featured Drizzy’s mentor Weezy, Bun B, Omarion, Llyod and his friend, Trey Songz. It received well over 2,000 downloads in the first 2 hours of release. This mixtape was extremely successful in the underground rap industry and eventually made its way to radio stations across the nation. Due to the success of mixtape’s two singles, “Best I Ever Had” and “Successful”, it was released as an EP featuring only five songs from the from the original mixtape and included one new song. MTV named “So Far Gone” the hottest mixtape of 2009. Since the release of “So Far Gone” Drake has worked with DJ Khaled, Young Money, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Eminem, Young Jeezy, Mary J. Blige, Timbaland, Birdman, Trey Songz, and Jamie Foxx. Drake has also written for Jazz Cartier, Bishop Brigante, Alicia Keys, and Dr. Dre.
He achieved success before signing to a major record label, according to his management Hip Hop Since 1978. In June 2009, it was revealed that an unauthorized album entitled The Girls Love Drake and credited to Graham was up for sale on iTunes. A lawsuit was planned against the label.
On the Billboard Hot 100 chart of July 4, 2009, both “Best I Ever Had”, and “Every Girl” by Young Money Entertainment entered the top ten at positions 3 and 10 respectively. Graham is only the second artist to have his first two top ten hits in the same week. The first was fellow Canadian Nelly Furtado who entered the top ten in 2001 with “I’m Like A Bird” the same week as Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On”, a remix of which included a credited contribution from Furtado. On June 29, 2009, it was confirmed, that Graham signed a record deal with Young Money Entertainment. This followed what Billboard purported to be “one of the biggest bidding wars ever”. Graham toured with Wayne and other rap artists on the America’s Most Wanted Tour.
On July 31, 2009, Graham, who was performing on an already injured knee, fell on stage while performing “Best I Ever Had”, with Lil Wayne in Camden, New Jersey. Graham underwent surgery on September 8, 2009 for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. He was currently undergoing rehabilitation and was able to walk.
On September 15, 2009, So Far Gone was released as a seven-track EP in which five of the tracks were from the original mixtape. It debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200. Since then the album was certified gold by the RIAA with over 500,000 copies sold in the United States. On April 18, 2010, the album won Rap Recording of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards.
Thank Me Later
Graham planned to release his official debut album, Thank Me Later, in late 2009, but the album’s release date was postponed, first to March 2010, then May 25, 2010. Universal Motown then stated the album had been pushed back three weeks for a June 15, 2010 release. The album has confirmed collaborations with the likes of Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne. On March 9, 2010, Graham released the first single from his Thank Me Later album, also known as “Over”. It reached No. 14 on the Hot 100.
On March 12, 2010, a version of K’naan’s “Wavin’ Flag” recorded by a collective of Canadian musicians known as Young Artists for Haiti was released. Graham is featured in the song, performing a solo verse near the end of the song.
On April 29, 2010, it was announced that Graham had finished Thank Me Later. According to reports, Graham announced the completion of the album to a crowd during his April 26, 2010, show at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. His camp has since confirmed that Drake was finished with the final track to the album and the next single from the album would be titled “Find Your Love”. “Find Your Love” was released as the second single on May 5, 2010, and has become the most successful single from the album, as it has reached No. 8 on the Hot 100, becoming the most successful single from the album to date.
The third single from the album, “Miss Me”, featuring Lil Wayne, was released on June 1, 2010. It has reached No. 15 on the Hot 100.
On June 15, 25,000 fans gathered at New York’s South Street Seaport for a free concert by Drake and Hanson. A near riot ensued after police canceled the show due to over-flowing crowds.
The album, Thank Me Later, was finally released on June 15, 2010. Drake collaborated with artists such as Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, T.I. and Lil Wayne to create the album. The record sold 447,000 records in its first week, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and becoming his first release to do so. Due to his first week sales, Graham had sold the most records for any hip hop artist in one week in 2010, until Eminem easily passed that mark a week later.
Drake hosted the first annual Ovo (October’s Very Own) Festival. In that festival he brought out the VIP list of rap stars including: Jay-Z, Eminem, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Bun B and Fabolous.
Drake’s Personal life
In 2008, Drake spoke about his past relationship with Keshia Chanté on the second verse of his song “Deceiving”, referencing Chanté’s mother, Tessa, stating “when I say I’m serious, you claim your only teasing” and “What up Tessa? I love you like my own mama, and your daughters getting grown mama, and me, I’m just here working, waiting, patient for her to be ready for love and leave alone drama”
In May 2009, Drake finally speaks with MuchMusic about his song “Deceiving” and addressed speculation of his past relationship with Chante, “Would I call Keshia Chante an ex? I’d be proud to say she is an ex. I’m proud to say we had our time, when we were, like 16 years old. She’s great. She’s one of the first people in the industry that I met, we just connected.”
In June 2009, Drake did two remixes to Chante’s song “Fallen” where he addresses his love for her, on Version 1 he raps “Keshia, Keshia, do you remember the old us? They said we’d never be together that’s what they told us. Immature kids, to entrepreneur kids.” then on Version 2, he raps “you just hold it down for your boy until the plaques arrive, that’s why I love you.”