Drake’s rise to superstardom was one of the biggest stories of 2009. From his humble beginnings as Jimmy Brooks on “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” Drizzy (born Aubrey Graham) took the hip-hop world by storm, thanks to the success of his So Far Gone mixtape and subsequent partnership with Lil Wayne’s Young Money label. Drake collaborated with the biggest names in the game, was co-signed by everyone from Bun B to Kanye, and didn’t let a little thing like tearing the ligaments in his knee stop his climb. Grammy nominated, often-imitated, Drake came out of nowhere to lay the blueprint for success in ‘09. Now he knows G4 pilots on a first-name basis.
2009 Highlights: In February, he made his So Far Gone mixtape available for free on his MySpace page, and it all went nuts from there. Drake jumped on Lil Wayne’s I Am Music Tour soon after, and was quickly named a “Fire Starter” by MTV News’ Hip-Hop Brain Trust. Then, riding a wave of hype, he headlined a Hot 97 “Who’s Next Live” show at New York club SOB’s, wowing a crowd that included the likes of Eminem, Kanye West and Talib Kweli.
With fame came certified sex-symbol status, which meant whispers that he and Rihanna were an item (which he denied), and he tried to downplay it all by proclaiming himself not to be a ladies man, but rather, “An honest man.” Of course, it was kind of difficult to hear him over the throngs of squealing ladies who followed his every move.
He joined up with Wayne again on his America’s Most Wanted Tour, and soon signed to Weezy’s Young Money Records. But his time on the tour would be short: three days in, he collapsed onstage, tearing three ligaments in his knee and forcing him to drop off the bill (though his knee would go on to launch a much-discussed Twitter account).
But really, 2009 was all about Drake’s music, and the tremendous in-roads it made for him. He was only the second artist in Billboard Hot 100 history to have two songs in the Top 10, with “Best I Ever Had” and “Every Girl,” and the So Far Gone mixtape was so successful that Young Money/Universal decided to re-release it as an EP. He collaborated with the likes of Jamie Foxx, Jay-Z and Trey Songz, and his “Forever” (featuring verses by Em, West and Weezy) was a posse cut for the ages. He landed at #3 on MTV News’s Hottest MCs list, and closed out ‘09 with a pair of Grammy nominations and much hype surrounding his Thank Me Later LP, which is tentatively due in March.
Also this year, Drake refused Kanye West’s invitation to re-make the “Best I Ever Had” video … Drank a bottle of Opus One wine, wrote a lengthy blog post detailing his prodigious healing abilities … Sorta feuded with Universal Motown head Sylvia Rhone and the ghost of Tupac Shakur … Remained unrepentantly Canadian.