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Fire Starter Of The Year Is Aubrey Drake Graham

Shout out to all the new artists we introduced you to this year such as Young Jeezy’s CTE members Boo Rossini, Bama and BW. We also can’t forget the GS Boys, the New Boyz and the cat with the craziest name in rap right now, Waka Flocka Flame.

The Mixtape Daily Fire Starter section has long been a hub for the up-and-comers in the game. We’ve seen some alumni such as Triple C’s, Masspike Miles, Big Sean, Kidd Kidd and Donnis make noise in 2009. Rap’s future is in great hands. All the veterans still doing their thing out there don’t have to step down. They don’t even need to make room; the rookies with staying power will carve out their own niche. And of all fresh talent we’ve featured in Fire Starter this year, there’s one who proved that he belongs at the head of the class.

Fire Starter of the Year: Aubrey Drake Graham

Hip-hop’s future swooped in on the scene with grace and force. The best thing about Drizzy in 2009 is that he dispelled the notion that you have to sell millions of records to be a hip-hop superstar. The 23-year-old Toronto native jumped right into the ranks of the rap heavyweights, bashing the glass-ceiling limits of what a rookie can do. He took off in a gulf stream of acclaim with So Far Gone (our pick for Mixtape of the Year). His guest-appearance résumé has varied from “Money to Blow” and “4 My Town” for the Birdman to “The One” for Mary J. Blige and his most recent takeover on Timbaland’s “Say Something.” And his buzz also earned him the #8 spot on MTV News’ Man of the Year list for 2009.

In 2010, we’re not expecting anything less than a recession-shunning, Billboard-topping debut for his first real album Thank Me Later. We’re also predicting a clean sweep at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards (he’s up for two).

Other Standout Fire Starter Alumni

Young Money: With the biggest tour of the summer and hit smashes “Bed Rock” and “Every Girl,” Lil Wayne has built a collective with a brand name you can trust. Weezy’s clique of artists have shown diversity, swag and performance acumen. Almost all of them rap and sing (and have tattoos). Drake may be leading the charge for the blue chippers, but Nicki Minaj is definitely right on his heels (in her high heels), while Gudda Gudda is coming up slowly but surely. Mack Maine continues to get good looks and Lil Chuckee and Lil Twist should definitely corner the market with youngsters once they start to emerge from the pack.

Drake’s So Far Gone Mixtape Makes Drake Rookie Of The Year…

If Drake is not a household name for everyone just yet, the 23-year-old is on the front porch, ringing the bell. That he’s done it without even putting out an official album shows just how far he’s come in 12 months. What a journey it’s been for the Toronto native in 2009.

I first met Drake last year in Los Angeles around Grammy time. Lil Wayne’s co-manager Cortez Bryant introduced me to Drake as a new “singer” that they were working with. Drizzy was cool but barely spoke: At the time, there was no way I’d envision him as having a shot at making the MTV News’ “Hottest MCs in the Game” list, let alone finishing in the top three. He was a “singer,” right? Continue reading

Drake Wants Thank Me Later To Be Relatable

“At the end of the day, one of the biggest things I’ve been toying with on Thank Me Later is that it’s kind of hard for me to come out and be like, ‘I’m still the underdog,’ ” Drake told Mixtape Daily. “I can’t rap about the same things [as I did] on So Far Gone, so it’s just really trying to tell the greatest story that’s never been told, which is the story of a rapper’s come-up, and tell it without being corny or over bragging or sounding like, ‘Feel sorry for me.’ It’s going to be a very interesting record because I’m really going to have to dig deep and tell stories that people can relate to. But it’s kind of hard, because my life is at a very different place now.

“I’m excited for next year, and I got some great records coming out with people too,” the #3 Hottest MC in the Game added. “I got little projects on the horizon that I’m doing just for the people, to give people the free music that I’ve been known to give. I’m just going to keep up with being Drake. That’s it.”

By “free music,” does Drake mean he’ll be doing another mixtape?

“Yep, definitely a possibility,” he said with a chuckle. “I’m working every day, and I know the requests. I get all the requests like, ‘Oh, we can’t wait to hear you and Jay spit together, and we need another mixtape.’ I mean, I listen to the people, and there’s just consistent requests that come my way almost every day or every other day. With that said, sometimes you have to listen to them and give them what they want. So, that’s my goal.

MTV Says Drake’s So Far Gone Is The Hottest Mixtape Of 2009 (So Far)

What can we say about So Far Gone that hasn’t already been written in this very section? The mixtape was artistically dope and had out-of-control buzz, and we are stamping it as the mixtape of 2009 so far based on the impact and quality. Let the debates begin, but you’ll have a difficult time saying what other tape reached the ‘hood, the ‘burbs and the industry. A universal thumbs-up. Let’s hope the album lives up to the hype.

“I am honored by the accolade given to me by Mixtape Daily and just by all the stuff that’s going on,” Drake said about getting the nod. “I feel like I just spent a lot of years so in tune with music that I really love. Whether it be R&B, whether it be jazz, whether it be rap, whatever. I think So Far Gone was me finding myself as a person and then finding a way to balance all these things that I love and figuring out truly what it is that I’m good at. I think once you find a rhythm or a formula as an artist, it starts to connect with people. You know, people are like, ‘OK, he’s doing his thing.’ That’s important to do your thing. You can’t be doing what so-and-so is doing or do something that doesn’t fit you. … The best part about finding that rhythm was just being honest. Honesty, you know, rapping about my life and things that occur on a daily basis. So when I draw inspiration, I really can draw from my life, not go make something up or hear someone else’s story.

“I can just live and then write,” he continued. “And so that really makes my musical process very easy and gratifying. It’s been dope. So for people to respond to that mixtape was a great thing.”

With all the accolades he’s raked in from the mixtape, has Drizzy ever had second thoughts about giving the tape out for free instead of selling it?

“I think that’s what we’re working on right now,” he said. ” ‘Best I Ever Had’ is doing amazing on iTunes. But [the mixtape] was an important moment for me. So no, I don’t ever look at it and say, ‘I wish that was an album.’ It was important that it was a mixtape, ’cause if it was an album, I don’t know if it would’ve had the same impact. I think the fact that I gave that for free, it was kind of brazen, like, ‘What? What do you have in your collection, in your catalog, to be able to throw this out there?’ And just while we were creating it, it was all of us, you know? Me, 40, Oliver and everyone else involved. It was us, just having fun in a stress-free environment, because we knew we were going to give it away. So I am hoping to bring that same energy to the album. It’s harder, because you know that it’s your album. You know people have to go buy it and they have to support it or else you’re not going to live up to the expectations, but hopefully we can channel that same energy into this project.”

The Mixtape Daily famliy sat down and discussed not just Drake’s effort, but the street projects by a slew of other artists. Come back Friday for our entire list.

If you still haven’t downloaded Drake’s “So Far Gone” Mixtape you can download it now!

Drake – So Far Gone Mixtape (2009)

Download “Best I Ever Had”