Being anointed the biggest Jewish-Canadian rapper in the world might sound like faint praise, but Drake isn’t exactly playing the Yukon bar mitzvah circuit. By early July, the Toronto-based artist found himself with two songs in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart—his own, “Best I Ever Had,” and YoungMoney’s “Every Girl,” on which he performs. So what did Drake do to celebrate? “I didn’t even know that happened,” he says with a laugh. “I don’t really take much time to relish the accolades.” After landing a role on the Canadian tv series Degrassi: The Next Generation at the age of 14, Aubrey Drake Graham quickly set his sights on a career in hip-hop. Music had always been a part of his f-amily life: His uncle Larry Graham played bass with Sly Stone and Prince, and his father, Dennis Graham, was a drummer for Jerry Lee Lewis. Drake’s parents divorced when he was five, and he was raised by his mom in the swanky -Forest Hill section of Toronto. After hearing one of Drake’s homemade mix tapes, Lil Wayne invited him down to Houston, and they made their first demo together. Since then, the 23-year-old Drake has collaborated with Jay-Z, Kanye West, Mary J. Blige, and Jamie Foxx—all before releasing his first album. That debut, called Thank Me Later (Young Money Entertainment), is among the most hotly anticipated of 2010. “I’m not overwhelmed by what everyone else wants this first album to be—I’m overwhelmed by what I know I need it to be,” says Drake. “I just gotta keep going ’cause it’s so easy to lose your grasp on the game if you’re ever even blessed enough to get ahold of it. So I’m just kind of trying to keep things at the pace they’re moving at now.”
Photo above: Drake in New York, September 2009. Jacket: Nom De Guerre. Shirt: Paul Smith Jeans Red Ear. Tie: Paul Smith. Grooming Products: Kiehl’s Since 1851, including Facial Fuel Energizing Moisturizer. Fragrance: Paul Smith MAN. Styling: Andreas Kokkino. Grooming: Marcos Smith/Art Department. Special Thanks: Fast Ashleys.