Category Archives: Interviews

Two New Tracks Next Week, Chris Brown, & Single Drake Interview

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Drake did an interview with rap journalist Elliot Wilson for East Village Radio. If you remember a little while back, Elliot Wilson did a segment on Drake’s Started From The Bottom, The Truth. Well he’s back again, and this time Drake and him sat down and pretty much answered every question under the sun you might of had about Drake. Wondering what’s the deal with OVOXO, or should I just say XO (The Weeknd)… You’ll find out soon.

Beef between breezy aka Chris Brown, that was covered too. Drake really made it simple to understand this time, no track needed, “I make better music than him. I am more popping than him. At one point the woman he loves fell into my lap. His insecurities are the reason I make better music than him.”…cough…cough, “Leave It Alone”.

New track releases coming soon, for a matter of fact, two tracks are coming next week!

Other topics include Drake being single, moving to L.A., and most importantly his music. Listen to the entire interview below and let us know what you think in the comments. ‘Nothing Was The Same’ coming soon!

A$AP Rocky Says Drake Put Him On (Radio Interview)

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A$AP Rocky recently did an interview with Q Deezy from Hot 107.9 Philly when he talks about Drake putting him on when he was a “nobody”. He goes into details about a night at a club one time, as well as some of the conversations they had, and A$AP Rocky has nothing but love for Drake. Watch the interview below to hear what exactly what Rocky had to say about Drake.

Boi-1da Shares Insight Behind Drake’s Track ‘Started From The Bottom’ & Junior Album

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Boi-1da recently did an interview with HipHopDX where he tcouhes on Drake‘s ‘Started From The Bottom’ track, as well as gives some background story into what started from the bottom really meant.

“He was working at “Degrassi: [The Next Generation]” and was working at a restaurant where he was doing spoken word over the piano. Everybody was working from the bottom, and we just all shared the same vision—which was Drake. We all believed in him”

Boi-1da is responsible for producing some of Drake’s biggest hits such as ‘Best I Ever Had’ and now ‘5AM In Toronto’. Read some excerpts from the interview below.

HipHopDX: Since “Started From The Bottom” is blowing up right now, can you tell us some stories that relate with the song’s theme? I know that prior to your brief Rap career years back, you had a nine to five at Winners, right?

Boi-1da: I definitely started from the bottom. We all did as a team—me, Drake, everybody. I always say this in interviews. We started working out of a studio that was rat-infested. I was working at Winners at the time, and Drake was working at two places. He was working at “Degrassi: [The Next Generation]” and was working at a restaurant where he was doing spoken word over the piano. Everybody was working from the bottom, and we just all shared the same vision—which was Drake. We all believed in him.

That song means a lot, because despite what anybody thinks about Drake and them making comments about how he didn’t start from the bottom, he did start from the bottom. We all did. We all started from a place that was not where we are now. A lot of people to say that, but it’s not easy for a rapper to come from “Degrassi” and to make it mainstream as one of the biggest rappers in the world.

To me, he really started from the bottom. When I hear people say [that he didn’t], it really upsets me, because I was there when we all started it and went through the struggles. He is how he is portrayed. The TV show and all that stuff factors into being a Hip Hop artist, because you know how Hip Hop is. You got to have street cred, this and that. But Drake made a lane of his own.

DX: How old were you when you were working at Winners?

Boi-1da: I was 17-18…

DX: So you were still in high school?

Boi-1da: I was literally just leaving high school. Drake wasn’t in high school. I met him when I got out of high school.

DX: What restaurant did Drake work out of?

Boi-1da: I forgot the name. I don’t even know if he wants me to mention that. Just say he got two jobs [Laughs].

 

 

DX: You did a little cameo in the Drake video. It was at a Shoppers Drug Mart out of all places. Were you surprised when they told you to come to a Shoppers?

Boi-1da: Well, yeah. I was wondering what they were doing. I know with Drake, OB [O’Brien] and Ryan [Silverstein], those three together are straight comedy. I knew it was going to be something funny. I went to kick it. If they needed me, I was like, “Whatever.” They told me they needed me for the scene, and I just did it.

DX: So they just asked you to come on set for that short scene?

Boi-1da: Yeah, I was chilling and Director X said, “For this scene, I need you to take these boxes of condoms and drop it on the table.” I was like, “Alright.” [Laughs.] This was my first time I ever acted in anything.

DX: The song talked about Drake’s rise to stardom, and you’ve known Drake for a while. Looking back, are you surprised at how big he’s become?

Boi-1da: I’ve always said this. When I first met the guy and heard his music, I said, “This guy—and not to disrespect anyone—was going to be the next Jay-Z.” He was going to be that guy. I always knew he was going to be that guy, and it’s crazy to see what he’s doing now. I never knew it was going to be as huge as it is now, but I always knew he was going to be that guy. He had everything working for him. He had the swag, the look, and on top of that, the music was always spectacular. To this day, I’ve never heard a bad Drake verse.

DX: Was that back in 2008…2009 when you met him?

Boi-1da: I met him in 2007…’06-ish.

DX: With Toronto rappers in 2006, the city had this “screwface” mentality, and you didn’t see guys make it big out the city. Did his success surprise you?

Boi-1da: Oh yeah, definitely. It definitely played a role with the stigma and the Toronto screwface mentality, but at the end of the day, the music spoke for itself. You couldn’t say anything about the music. He’s not lying in his raps. He’s not talking about anything unrealistic.

DX: He knows his lane…

Boi-1da: He keeps it 100% real. He talks about his life and enjoying it.

 

 

DX: Should we be expecting more records with you and Drake on Nothing Was The Same?

Boi-1da: Oh yes. Me and him have been collaborating on this album, so you’re going to see me a few times on this album.

DX: Can you give us any hints on the direction he’s going in, in terms of sound, features, or vibe that he’s going with for the album?

Boi-1da: The direction is just legendary. I’ll just say that. He has some records on there that’s going to be a great body of work. People are going to be very shocked. He’s taking it to the next level.

DX: Sometimes he goes in on records like “Ransom,” or “9AM in Dallas,” and sometimes he becomes vulnerable on records like “Marvin’s Room.” From a fan’s perspective, do you have a preference between hard-spitting Drake or vulnerable, singing Drake?

Boi-1da: I like everything Drake does. It’s so real. It’s him. When you get something that’s more of him being vulnerable, it’s something that happened to him. Every song that he made, there’s no lying. It’s something that has happened to him. There’s just different sides, and you get to know him through his music because he really exposes himself with his music.

DX: Why do you think people get on him for being that way?

Boi-1da: I think people get on him for that because they’re uncomfortable with themselves. They can’t get comfortable with themselves and they get on him for that. Music is art, and he’s portraying art in telling his life story. Not everyone is a tough guy everyday. You’re not happy everyday; you’re not sad everyday, you know? All his songs have a different spectrum, and he’s just giving you the realness of his life. He’s not lying about anything.

DX: That surprised me, because I thought you would prefer the more lyrical Drake over those hard-hitting beats since that follows suit with your signature sound—you’ve even described them as “smacky” beats.

Boi-1da: Yeah, I just like everything from Drake. Because as much as you think one song is more lyrical than the other, it’s all lyrical. Even songs when he’s singing, the pictures that he’s painting when he’s singing is something you can imagine. A lot of people can’t do that with their music.

You can find the full interview @ Hip-Hop DX.

Director X Discusses Scenes From Drake’s Track “Started From The Bottom”

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Complex spoke to Director X about his latest video with Drake titled “Started From The Bottom“. X explained the different scenes in the video in great detail for Complex. Catch the interview below.

The Soccer Scene:

Director X: “It’s just executing: Where are we going to shoot, getting the right kids, casting them. The kid who plays Drake is his homie’s son—one of the real friends. We just wanted to show that nothing could make a statement about being together, teamwork, and winning more than team sports for kids.”

The Bentley and The Blizzard Scene:

Director X: “That shot of him in the car, we shot that once. The shot we used was one take. We did a bunch of other stuff like getting the snow right—this whole video ended up being that whole kind of thing. We’d shoot a couple shots, but it ended up being one take for everything. It was almost like making a movie.

It wasn’t a snowy day that day. All of that snow is fake. Every bit is fake—the snow on the ground, the snow in the air, everything is artificial. The shot with his mother. In the back—that’s Movie Magic. It’s foam.

It’s just the right calls to the right effects people. On my side of things, it’s not as difficult as it may seem because there are people who do this all the time for different productions. A million movies you’ve seen and the snow is not real. Can’t tell, but there are tons of them and this was one of those situations.”

The Lovely Leading Lady:

Director X: “I’ve known her forever. For a really long time. Everyone in this video is from Toronto. It’s a city, but its a town at the same time. So that’s my homie. The way God planned it, she was the closest to set. She’s the hottest girl, but she actually lives closest to Hamilton.

Hamilton is where we shot the airport for the flying scene, so just for scheduling we had to shoot the drug mart close to there because of production rules. The day of when we didn’t have anybody, we were just like, ‘Call Maria [Angelica Charuppi], she lives in Hamilton.’ We were like, ‘Don’t go to school today and come do this thing.’ So it just happened to be that the hottest girl on the planet lived 10 minutes from set when we were shooting in the middle of nowhere.

She wants to do all that stuff in front of the camera. She’s a performer, so it’s possible. She’s gorgeous and she’s incredible. She’s not in the mix on the other side of the border so people are like, ‘What the fuck just happened?’”

The OB and “OVORyan” Skit:

Director X: “OB’s a real natural. Ryan is fun, but he’s not an actor or jokester like that in front of the camera, so he needed a little more finessing, just to get him comfortable. OB didn’t need nothing. He was off to the races. You can tell even in the ‘HYFR’ video just by the way the video starts and his attitude that he’s a real character. We just wanted to take it to a ridiculous place and have fun with it.

“It was generally planned out by Drake and them. They came up with that, but on set is where we finessed the lines and made them come together.”

The Lucky Strike Scene:

Director X: “That’s the Lucky Strike he likes to go to. So it’s all kind of personal beyond it just being a bowling alley. That’s the one he goes to.”

The Paradise Hookah Bar Scene:

Director X: “That’s [Drake’s] place Paradise. That shit is pretty easy. With all those people and everyone knowing each other, it’s a little bit different than the usual video set where people are strangers for the most part. Everyone knew everyone on that set, from the crew on down. Even that crew of guys shooting the video, they shoot all of their videos. Everyone knows everyone so it was very familiar. It was pretty normal. Nothing too crazy.”

The “Started From The Bottom” Billboard Scene:

Director X: “That’s Drake. He’s up there. If you were to ever come to Toronto on the Gardiner Expressway on your way downtown, that’s where it is. There’s not a double or anything. It was a cold fucking day—on the ground it was cold so imagine 200 feet in the air. Forget about it.”

The Private Jet Scene:

Director X: “No, we’re not flying it, but we were definitely in a jet. It’s a lot, especially for the amount of time that you see it. It’s a big production. In the 2000s, people were jumping out of airplanes and they had Hummers, and they shot in the desert. They danced with Jennifer Lopez. Busta Rhymes was turning into metal. We all grew up watching these videos that were giant productions where people were working really hard to entertain and compete with one another.

They were trying to do the biggest and best thing they could possibly make and then he gets to make a video and they’re like, ‘Here’s 100 grand.’ So ‘HYFR’ was the beginning of him pushing it conceptually, but this is where he said, ‘I’m going to push the envelope monetarily. I’m going to spend the money and make the bigger thing and make those videos that people will actually enjoy, not just something that plays because you want to hear the song.’”

The Champagne Papi Scenes:

Director X: “That’s the Dominican Republic. That’s where he was vacationing. We just showed up where they were, me and four other guys who shot it. It was great. A lot of the fun you see was actually happening. Everyone had a good time. If you’ve got good eyes, I’m dancing in there. I’m in the background grooving.”

On The Budget For The Video:

Director X: “It comes up to a lot, but it’s still not as much as when we filmed back in the day. I’ll tell you that. It’s in the upper region of what people spend now. You’re not going to get that money without a fight from the record labels and being an artist like Drake. The money he spent on this—I’ve done Mobb Deep videos for more money. Back when the dollar was worth more on top of it, so that’ll put that in perspective for you.”

Drake Speaks On The Success The Young Money Artists Have (Video)

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It’s either Drake, Nicki Minaj, or Lil Wayne that always seem to be in the top ten. Drake speaks on behalf of the Young Money family and the success the record label has had. Drake comments, “I think we all have our own individual different personalities and I think that the powers that be within this company allow us to be ourselves.” Watch the video below for Drake’s full response.

Noah ’40’ Shebib Speaks On Drake’s New Junior Album & Their Relationship

drake-40-ascap-videoThe Hollywood Report sat down with Noah “40” Shebib recently in which 40 discusses his relationship with Drake, their label, and Drake’s upcoming junior album. This was a great interview, definitely worth reading.

The Hollywood Reporter: Where did the nickname “40” come from?

Noah “40? Shebib: 40 was given to me as a name on the first major label project I worked on. I was about 21 years old and I was working with a bunch of guys that just didn’t use government names. So they came up with nicknames fairly quickly. My name’s Noah, and there was an artist named Jellystone who was signed with Universal, he had a bunch of little kids in the hood that would be around all the time. They’d all fall asleep and I’d be up when they got up and they’d say, ‘Oh man, you don’t sleep. You’re up for 40 days and 40 nights.’ I would never stop working. That was my first credit I ever got on a major project. They published all my credits like that on the album.

THR: Most of the hitmakers we’ve interviewed for this issue have been responsible for big, uptempo, poppy beats. Why has your smoother, down-tempo style caught fire in the industry?

40: I can’t be 100 percent responsible for that without thanking or considering Drake. I think we focus on special moments as opposed to what the tempo is or how it’s gonna move in a club or which genre’s gonna resonate with it. We just want to capture a special moment. And however we can make that translate, we choose to.

THR: Is it true that you put your mark on every single Drake track?

40: I would say 100 percent. It’s rare that I don’t edit his vocals, I track everything. I mix a lot of his stuff. If I didn’t produce it, I mixed it. And if I didn’t produce or mix it, I definitely edited it and arranged part of it for Drake. Everything goes through my hands. Me and Drake came into the business together, really. In the beginning, it was an engineer and a rapper. Not even a producer, really, I was an engineer more so than a producer pre-So Far Gone. People would say to Drake, ‘Where’s your manager? That’s your engineer that’s with you?’ We have such a good relationship, which is rare. We trust each other. He’ll go record something and he’ll say, ‘OK send it to 40,’ because we have that trust he ends up putting everything through my hands. I’ll make sure I edit it, I take care of it, I send it back to him, we sit down and we’re good.

THR: Having been friends for so long, how do you balance your personal relationship with your professional one?

40: I think both of us recognize the importance of that. The importance of what we do together and how we make music together. We make sure to keep our business in a very specific place and our friendship in another and our work in another. We’re always able to go to the studio, we’re always able to work. There are never problems. There’s no egos. Were’ friends first and foremost. And that’s probably my favorite part of the relationship.

THR: How long does it take you guys to cut a track?

40: Because I’m an engineer and a mixer, we’re mixing. We’re on the move. By the time we finish a session, the record doesn’t sound that far off to what the people hear. We move very quickly in that regard. By the time we’re done with a session, we could leak it right now. We leak stuff occasionally on purpose. That stuff is all very quick. Those are the references.

THR: Speaking of recording, how much of Drake’s new album is completed?

40: I don’t know, I don’t know. Every day it changes. That’s tough. That’s a hard thing to say. It depends. Because you know we work, and we have ideas and we have songs but as we create more songs, the shape of the album will change and the progression of it will change. As much as we might be sure that we’re on a path and we’re… We’re sort of working sequentially right now. We feel like we have 1, 2, 3, you know we’re going 4, 5, 6. That’s how we’re moving forward, in order of the actual playlist of the album. But as we make more music that fits in other places, it will change and adjust as far as how many songs, or how far we’re going to go so it’s yet to be discovered. We’re still too early to make a call about whether or not we’re half done or a quarter done or 75 percent done. I mean, it could be any of the above.

THR: Do you ever get sick of your own songs?

40: Yeah, for sure. I’m a producer, you know? I put out a song, and the first thing I think is like, ‘Oh my god, I should have changed this, I should have done that, why didn’t I do this? Oh god this is wrong, that is wrong.’ I’m never happy. Like for me to be satisfied, it’s difficult. You have to pry things out of my hands.

THR: So at what point do you let a track go?

40: The day of. Like you ever stay up ‘til 9 a.m. to finish a paper for school and go to school with no sleep? It’s kind of like that. Literally. Like, up ‘til the last minute. At some point, we’ll set a date. We’re in a really great position with Cash Money and Universal. We don’t take instructions from anybody they really trust us they let us have our own creative process and do what we need to do and make our music. We don’t deal with A&Rs, we don’t deal with people’s opinions, we don’t deal with producers or them bringing us song ideas ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. We’re very internal. We just decide at some point hey we’re getting close, this is when I think it should come out. We aim and strive for that date and we work tirelessly and change songs up until last minute and because I’m mixing it and because I’m producing a lot of it and because I’m tracking a lot of it, or all of it, we have the ability to do anything at any moment. Drake knows he can call me anytime. And then of course I’m sending it directly to New York and mastering and literally taking them from mastering and sending them to the plant the day that’s gonna make the difference of the album getting pushed two weeks cause we’re not gonna make our manufacturing deadline. It’s like that everytime.

THR: Wow. I think a lot of artists would kill to have that sort of relationship with their label.

40: I’ve been in this business long enough and have worked with enough people to know that this is extremely rare and we are extremely blessed and very lucky. But of course, this is Drake’s reality. People believe in him and they trust him. At the end of the day, these labels are coming to us for hits. They’re not gonna tell him what to do, they’re looking at him to tell them what to do. For the most part, no one’s bugging us. They just let us do our thing. I’m sure if we start slipping up someone will knock on the door, but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet.

THR: I understand you were diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at 22. How has that shaped you personally and professionally?

40: I took that as a motivator. It’s something that makes me even prouder of what I do I guess. It makes me want to work harder. It’s difficult and you get, I guess, used to the difference in your life and how your life changes and the type of person you can and can’t be, but ultimately I try to take all the positive I can, which is that I have this disease and it affects me the way it does but right now I’ve been blessed that it’s in remission and when it comes back, it remises again. I don’t deal with it as much as a lot of people. I try to stay positive as possible and be a positive role model for people who do deal with it, especially for young people because there’s a lack of information and knowledge. I like helping and sharing and giving, and that’s one way for me to be involved in the community on that level.

THR: What do you want to do next?

40: I guess I sort of take it day by day. Me and Drake work together so exclusively that I don’t really focus on that. A lot of producers in this business, their objective is to work with as many artists as they can or get as many records as they can, that’s not my objective. I don’t enjoy that. I want to be happy. I want to have fun. I don’t want to be put in a situation where I feel like I’m working or I have to deliver or there’s so much pressure . I don’t want to say that there’s not a time and place for that, because I think that’s what being good at what you do is and when someone says do it you can do it and you can turn over product, but ultimately at this point in my career I don’t want to put myself in that position where I walk into an artist that wants some sort of pop record out of me and everyone knows I do somber slow jams. It’s like, what are you thinking? What do you want from me? I don’t want to walk into that session. I want to feel good about what I’m doing and have fun and make music and have good energy with good people. Of course there’s certain artists that are gonna come knocking on my door and of course I’m gonna get in the studio with them because those are people that I’m fans of and I want to work with, or I think t here’s great opportunity for me or I’m excited about the music that can be made. There’ll be all sort of opportunities, but for the most part there’s nothing on my radar other than producing with Drake and creating music. That’s all I really want to do.

THR: Drake’s a lucky man.

40: Drake is really lucky. Nobody in my position who mixes records at the level that I mix at is gonna go sit in that chair and hit record and stop all day long. Or sit there for 10 hours pressing record and stop. 10 hours, six days a week, on top of everything else. No one’s gonna do that. The level of quality he gets from his tracking engineer is that of a big boy mixing engineer, so I spoil him, I guess. There’s not enough money in the world that you could pay me to track anybody else. There’s no way. There’s nobody.

Drake Speaks On Aaliyah Project & OVO Fest

T-Rexx from MuchMusic caught up with Drake after his OVO Fest performance in which they talked about his Aaliyah collaboration “Enough Said” and OVO Fest. Drake tells T-Rexx that he has an upcoming Aaliyah project on the way, which he’ll be working on with Noah “40” Shebib. Watch the interview below to get the inside scoop.

Drake Interviews With Now Toronto Before OVO Fest 2012

Drake recently had an interview with NOW which he touched on many different subjects. Some of the topics include finishing up high school, sounding like Toronto, and more. Read the entire interview below.

When you picture how Drake is spending his summer, you’re probably thinking of partying in VIP rooms with famous friends and sipping champagne on a tour bus. Turns out the truth is a lot less glamorous.

“I’m actually spending my summer graduating high school,” admits the rapper on a too-rare visit back home. “That’s my main focus after OVO Fest. I only have one credit left, and I’m really excited about that.”

It’s a particularly Canadian answer from a performer who’s somehow managed to turn all the nice and boring bits of our identity into a wildly successful hip-hop brand. Rival rappers can’t even successfully diss him for being soft, because he’s never bothered pretending to be hard. And as exciting as this city can be, we still tend to fear that we seem provincial compared to places like New York or London.

“As close as we are to New York, it still feels far removed. We feel far removed from that American celebrity lifestyle, and from that kind of success.”

But Drake isn’t so removed from that culture any more, although you get the sense sometimes he wishes he were. His people have made it very clear that we are not to ask any questions about Chris Brown and the club brawl in which he may or may not have been involved. Up until the very last minute it seemed pretty likely that the interview wouldn’t even happen.

On the phone, though, Drake’s high-wattage charm melts away all resentment of the seemingly endless hoops you have to jump through to get access to the superstar. How can you stay mad at someone who was late because of his great-aunt’s funeral?

He exudes the polished professionalism of a major-league superstar, a point in his career he’s arrived at with an image and sound that are irrevocably tied to his hometown. That shouldn’t be so notable, but Toronto has long had an unfortunate tendency to do really good impressions of music from other places.

“When I think of myself, I think of Toronto. My music would never sound the way it does if it weren’t for Toronto,” he says. “You talk about certain artists, and they sound like where they’re from. Myself and the Weeknd, we both just sound like Toronto.”

Our town has never really been known for that particular kind of hip-hop civic pride. Drake started OVO Fest in part to help shift how we see ourselves as a city.

“I just wanted to create a special night for the city. When I grew up, I always used to hear how we never get anything good coming through Toronto.

“We actually do get some great things in Toronto compared to many other places, but it’s true that sometimes you might not see your favourite hip-hop artist for a full year, or even two. Sometimes we do get skipped over here.”

Instead of putting together a huge bill of big names, though, his strategy over the last three years for his hometown mega-concert has been to advertise a relatively small lineup and then blow people away with a stream of superstar surprise guests. Many (including us) were unprepared the first year when people like Jay-Z and Eminem jumped onstage, but by now it’s an established, integral part of the event.

“I don’t want people to just come for the surprise guests, but at the same time I do put in a lot of effort and take a lot of pride in the friends that I can call up to travel to our city. I don’t really call on too many people for favours, but for this one night I do.”

Today, Drake doesn’t need the gimmick of secret guests to fill the Molson Amphitheatre. But after setting the bar even higher last year with a surprise visit by Stevie Wonder (which Drake describes as “one of the most incredible things ever”), he can’t drop that aspect of the experience. Don’t expect many specific hints from him, though – after all, he’s still not even sure who’s going to show up this year.

“I like for it to be a surprise, and a lot of the time we’re working up until the last minute on it. Trying to get Jay-Z up there the first year,? I didn’t even know if he would make it onstage. Trying to get Lil Wayne to land in Canada successfully last year, especially right after he got out of jail?

“A lot of the time it’s very last-minute. Sometimes I’ll only find out 10 minutes before that so-and-so is about to walk onstage. It’s exciting when it works out, but it’s an anxiety attack for the entire time that you’re still unsure about it.”

As much as Drake is all about repping his hometown, early in his career Toronto seemed a bit wary of the former Degrassi star. As has long been the case for Canadian musicians, he had to make it big elsewhere before we embraced him wholeheartedly here.

“Toronto had never really had someone that they thought would take it all the way,” he says. “I can’t fault Toronto for waiting until I broke, through – without getting that approval from America, I wouldn’t have been the guy who took it all the way.”

He almost seems star-struck about himself when speaking of his own success. There’s a palpable sense of disbelief that he turned out to be the guy who finally smashed through that barrier and got Toronto hip-hop on the map globally. Sure, we’ve had local success stories in the past, but nothing on this level in terms of commercial success and influence.

It’s no surprise that he’s booking reclusive local R&B sensation the Weeknd (see sidebar, page 42) to play OVO Fest for the second year running. Drake helped initially expose the singer to the world by posting an early recording on his own blog, and has since developed a close relationship with the emerging artist.

Beyond the two artists’ obvious professional ties, many critics have drawn links between Drake’s confessional, introspective rewiring of rap’s traditionally extroverted bravado and the moody, experimental approach to R&B that’s made singers like the Weeknd and Frank Ocean the current critical darlings.

That sound has been sometimes dismissively labelled “PBR&B” for being hipster-friendly, but there’s something happening to urban music that marks a bigger shift than simply the addition of some indie rock influences into the mix.

“Surface R&B doesn’t work any more,” says Drake. “The whole heartthrob thing, songs about unrealistic love and tearing your shirt off every show – that’s not really where it’s at any more. It’s becoming harder for those guys to sell records, and harder for them to succeed.

“The more you can tap into people’s minds – ‘I think that stuff and I’ve just never been able to say it, and this guy just said it for me’ – that’s the brand of music that’s winning right now, and that’s a great thing. It just makes for better music to listen to.”

It seems that both listeners and critics agree with him. Not only does Drake sell shitloads of records, but he also gets favourable reviews from Pitchfork and stands out like a sore thumb on the indie-dominated Polaris Music Prize shortlist. He’s definitely aware of how unusual a position that is for a top 40 artist.

“At the end of the day I’m an extremely mainstream rapper as far as my popularity goes, so if I can still make music with enough integrity to also please some of the toughest critics, it’s flattering. But I also know the flip side, which is that some people will never give me that moment because I’m part of Young Money, and I’m with Lil Wayne, and I’m not the new rapper who just put out a mixtape that no one knows about yet.”

He seems fairly accepting of the hate that comes at those who are in a position to buy mansions. Of course, having a mansion to come home to probably helps.

It’s not until I ask him why he doesn’t challenge more often the widely repeated myth about his rich upbringing in Forest Hill that I hear frustration in his voice.

“People like to build their own story about my life. I don’t know if it makes them feel better, or if it makes it okay for them to not like me, but the last thing I grew up as was rich.

“I had rich friends, but they weren’t giving me their money. I’m just not the type of guy to go ‘No, no, no, I’m not rich.’ People can say whatever they want about me, though. If they really want to learn them, the facts are out there. But I guess it’s easier on their hearts if I didn’t have to struggle, and makes it easier to not like me. It is what it is.”

When I remark that I also grew up poor in a rich neighbourhood, he tells me he likes that line and might steal it for a song.

I’m pretty sure he’s just buttering me up, but I’m oddly okay with that.