Drake reflects on what it was like for his mother to raise a rap star
This is a must read interview. One of Drake’s best.
My mom signed me up for dance classes, piano lessons. She was trying to do anything to keep me occupied. Her main objective was keeping me from being aimless, just wandering the streets. She signed me up for hockey, basketball, music, dancing. I tried piano, I tried guitar and I couldn’t stick with anything – until acting became my main focus.
When I landed Degrassi, I dropped out of high school. My calling had nothing to do with mathematics or history lessons. I felt like I was already capable of talking my way into or out of anything, and that was good enough.
At a certain point, acting became like a nine-to-five job. Actually, it was more like 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and it became a task, as music became my passion. I’d spend my nights in this studio in Scarborough (a suburb of Toronto) and everyone on-set knew you could find me in my dressing room, fast asleep, if I didn’t have a call time. In between breaks or when they’d cut for lunch, I’d hustle my music. I was working myself hard. I was 17 or 18 and I’d just met (producers) Boy Wonder and 40.
When they pulled the plug on our generation of Degrassi, that was the moment my life changed. I called my agent and said, “Look, man, I know you’re getting me lots of auditions, but I’m going to do this music thing.” I had met Lil Wayne.
My relationship with my mother at that point was changing. Today, she doesn’t trip about what I buy or what I’m riding in or what I wear – now I can afford it – but back then, after Degrassi, I was living way beyond my means at a time when my family had very little. I felt like part of being a rapper was to portray this facade. It’s like, “Everyone knows I’m out with Lil Wayne; I better get rich quick. If not, no one will believe me.”
I rented a Rolls-Royce Phantom from this old dude looking for loose money and my mother was upset. She had friends who were genuinely wealthy and thought it was embarrassing. She’d say, “Everyone can tell this isn’t real.” I thought I had to show people I was something I wasn’t. That was a hard time in my life: lots of yelling, lots of crying, lots of screaming. When I made So Far Gone, my family was in a very dark place.
I was never around Lil Wayne with a frustrated mindset. I was observant around him, watching everything that goes right and everything that goes wrong. I’ll never forget riding in his tour bus: Wayne being asleep, watching ESPN, and I’m looking at him like, “That’s actually Lil Wayne and I’m actually on his bus. I’m just a kid from Toronto.”
I didn’t get frustrated, though, like thinking that it had to happen real fast. I believed talent had led me to this moment. I believed my story wouldn’t stop on that bus.
There were a bunch of artists around Wayne at the time, looking for an assist, but I decided to prove myself first. I made a commitment to doing the mix tape and forgot about getting signed and a million-dollar advance. I didn’t know if it was going to work.
So Far Gone was an all-encompassing project. Its success was what I hoped for, but not what I expected. The mix tape turned into a commercial release. You could turn on a radio anywhere and hear my song. Now it was time to make an album.
My mother was with me when Thank Me Later debuted at No. 1. We’d been through so much: my dad trying to share some of the responsibility with her and us running out of money and me constantly spending. A lot of yelling and fighting went into this self-expression, but now, the surreal feeling’s turned into something different.
I refuse to celebrate this album. I’m happy for myself and the people around me, but I want success to last. When Thank Me Later came out, I wasn’t thinking about Thank Me Later. I was thinking about the next album. I sold 480,000 copies. I want to sell 800,000 copies like Eminem. I want to record another big single. I want to make the next Best I Ever Had.
I don’t feel like I did it on this album, and now I’m addicted to the feeling of people loving my music. I’m addicted to turning on the radio or going to a club in New York or Atlanta or Jackson, Miss., and hearing my record or seeing constant cars pass playing my song. When you do it, it’s euphoric – all I can think about is going back in the studio and getting that feeling again.
Drake, 23, is the first Canadian rapper to reach No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts.
Source: PostMedia News