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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.

Drake: “I’m The First Person to Successfully Rap and Sing”

Drake did an interview with Jewish Chronicle while he was touring part of the Club Paradise tour. While interviewing Drake had the following to say,“There were people who incorporated melody before me, but I would deem myself the first person to successfully rap and sing”. Check out key highlights from the article below.

“There were people who incorporated melody before me,” says Drake, talking backstage at the 02 in south-east London, where 18,000 people have converged to see him play the biggest concert of his career, “but I would deem myself the first person to successfully rap and sing.”

He considers the question of his persona and agrees that: “Yes, there are aspects of it that are new in the rap world. But it’s not a gimmick. I just sort of exist and people embrace it. I’m one of the few artists who gets to be himself every day. It doesn’t take me six hours to get ready and I don’t have to wake up in the morning and remember to act like this or talk like this. I just have to be me. That’s one of the favorite parts of my life – I’ve done this purely by being myself.”

“That’s one of the things that plagues my mind. My relationship with my family. Am I talking to my mother enough? That kind of thing. Asking myself: ‘Are you changing? Are you a different person?’ Those are my issues now. If I wasn’t famous I don’t think those would be my issues at all. They would be: how am I going to support myself? I wouldn’t be able to get any girl that I wanted. I wouldn’t be traveling the world and I wouldn’t be showered with all this affection.”

“I’m always looking for something else,” he says, by way of reassurance, as he prepares to entertain 18,000 Londoners. “I’m always looking for what’s beyond this point. Not to sound depressing or anything, but I don’t just tell myself: ‘Oh, everything’s all good, man’. Life is good. But I’m not naive. Nothing is all good.”

Jake One Talks Collaboration With Drake (Interview)

Remember that track that was playing in the background while Drake was smoking hookah? Well that exact song in the background was produced by Jake One. HHNM got to interview Jake this past weekend about the collaboration with him and Drizzy. Take a look at what Jake had to say below.

HHNM: Drake previewed a new song the other day in a video clip while he’s smoking hookah. Is it true that you produced it?
Jake One: Yeah, that’s the song I did for him.
HHNM: Tell us how that collaboration came out and where it will end up.
Jake One: You know I’m not even sure at this point. I’ve been talking to him off and on, sending him stuff. There were some records that he really liked. That was one of them he recorded. Hopefully, you will get to hear the music soon.

Jake and HHNM talked about a lot more than Drake as well. If you want to read the entire article you can here.

Drake Talks About Ice Age 4: Continental Drift (Video)

Drake comments on his role in the upcoming film Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, which he stars as a wooly mammoth named Ethan. Drizzy goes into how he got the role and about the film in general. Watch the video clip below to find out everything he had to say. Ice Age 4: Continental Drift premieres in theaters July 13th.

Drake Will Rep Memphis In His Junior Album (Video)

Drake continues his interview with Sway from MTV News by talking about his plans to rep Memphis on his junior album. Drake’s dad, Dennis Graham, and relatives actually live in Memphis, Tennessee and Drake use to spend his summers there. Check out what Drake has to say below.


“That’s my town, you know, that’s like home. Memphis is a place I hold dear to my heart, actually a place on this next project I just want to start talking more about and maybe even do some recording out there, just to reconnect with that. Drake has long rapped about his relationship with the city on a number of tracks. Most recently, he paid homage on “Under Ground Kings. “Memphis, Tennessee, know, see I start to go deep back/ In Ridge Crest with my seat back, with Yo Gotti and E-Mack” I remember just sitting there watching, watching this guy record, how it was all done, I hadn’t really been subjected to it before. That shaped a lot of my early days like, ‘Oh, I wanna rap. Being around him in Memphis, Tennessee, was a big moment for me. I would definitely give him a lot of credit for just embracing me.”

Catch A “Drake Moment” In HYFR Music Video

Drake continues his interview with Sway from MTV News, but this time he talks about his “HYFR” video. Drake calls the video his “Drake Moment”, which really shows some character about himself. Watch the video after the jump to get the full scoop. I personally think HYFR was directed well. It has all the elements of a great music video… What you think? On another tip, Drake be rocking that double Styrofoam cup heavy!

“It was great to do it with X. I always told X [that] we needed to do a video together, we’re both from Toronto. I feel like at one point he was probably like, ‘Yea, yea alright.’ Every time I see him [I’d say,] ‘we have to do a video together,’ and finally [we] made it happen. For that to be the one, it was crazy. I think that’s the most talked about video in my career. I think it’s just insight into my genuine character. I think that’s what’s most entertaining about it. The fun being had in the video is real fun and insight into my mind because I thought of this. This is a Drake moment, a lot like the talking [I do] onstage, because that’s really me.I try and produce almost a comedic element into my show. I spent years working on acting and comedic timing. It clicked with me like a year and a half ago that maybe I should bring that element to my stage show. Why not? I don’t make music where I’ve got to take myself seriously and be all stoic. I can laugh with people and it really has brought life to my show. People leave feeling like they were in a room of 500, which is important.”

Drake Making New Music In June MTV News

Drake told Sway from MTV News after his Club Paradise show in Houston, that he plans to start making/recording new music by June 18th, also he gets into a little about the song he has with Justin Bieber. Watch the clip below to find out. On a side note, Drake has a ridiculous work ethic, he’s just sick with it!

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Drake Interview On Love, Acting, and Music (Audio)

Drake had an interview with I-D Magazine back when he was performing in Europe for his Club Paradise tour. Drake spoke on many topics including: love, acting, and music. Drake is very honest in this interview, so this is the interview for fans to take a listen to to. This interview will be a part of I-D’s Lights, Camera, Action issue. Listen to the audio below.

“My plan is to make as much music as I can until a story from Drake doesn’t impact you in the way that it used to. Then, I guess I’ll find my way somewhere else.”

Jas Prince Speaks On Drake In Text Interview

Jas Prince recently did an interview with Allindstrom.com. In the interview Jas was questioned about many topcis including: Business side of music, first job in the music industry, and of course Drake. See what Jas had to say about Drake after the jump.

Where did you first hear of Drake? Who brought him across your plate?

“MYSPACE! I always browse through the internet lookin for somethin new. I found him myself. I sent him a message lettin him know who I was and that I wanted to work with him, get his music to some people I know.”

How did you pitch him to Wayne?

“At first I was tellin him about him like, “Yo, you really need to check this dude Drake out,” and Wayne wasn’t tryin to hear it. Then one day while leavin the Galleria, I just threw his CD in and let it play. He was like, “Wait..who is this?,” and I was like “Drake…the guy I been tellin you about.” Wayne told me to book him on the next flight to Houston.”