The Story of Drake: A Biography

Name: Aubrey Drake Graham

Born: October 24, 1986

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario;

Interesting Facts About Drake

  • Famous for his role as Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation

  • Uncle is Sly and the Family Stone bass player Larry Graham, Jr.

Childhood:

Drake was born in the wrong city. A doting fan of  Houston, Texas, Drake was actually born and bred in Toronto, Canada -- you know, that hotbed of pop stars.

His path to stardom wasn't exactly paved with rhymes. He started out as an actor on the TV series Degrassi: Next Generation. Drake played Jimmy Brooks, and he did rap on the show every now and then. Simply put, Drake always had music on the brain.

Early Rap Career

With his father gone, Drake turned elsewhere for inspiration: hip-hop. He started experimenting with rhymes at 8 but didn't start rapping seriously until when he was around 17. He grew up on a steady diet of UGK, JAY Z, Aaliyah, and Cash Money, among others.

The Mixtape Grind

In 2006, Drake formally launched his rap career with his first mixtape, Room for Improvement. His first major breakthrough came a year later via Comeback Season. Drake's second mixtape spawned a minor hit in "Replacement Girl," featuring Trey Songz.

In 2008, Jas Prince, son of Rap-A-Lot founder J Prince, heard Drake's music and put him in touch with Young Money rapper Lil Wayne.

Wayne invited Drake to tour with him. They also connected in the studio and kicked off a series of collaborative tracks, including a remix of Lil Wayne's "Man of the Year" and "Ransom." Though now an unofficial member of Young Money, Drake was still unsigned.

So Far Gone

2009's So Far Gone changed everything.

The tightly wound mixtape showcased Drake's songwriting versatility, as he vacillated between rapping and singing. "Best I Ever Had," the project's promotional single, soared through the charts and reached No. 2 on the US Hot 100 chart en route to a double platinum certification. "Successful," alongside Trey Songz and Lil Wayne, also reached the Top 20 and moved over 500,000 units. Cosigns from JAY Z and Kanye West, who directed the "Best I Ever Had" video, further enhanced Drake's visibility. A fierce bidding war ensued.

Welcome to the Majors

In the summer of 2009, Drake inked a deal with Universal Motown via Young Money/Cash Money Records. He re-released the uber popular So Far Gone mixtape as an EP. It reached No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and earned a Grammy nomination.

Thank Me Later

After months of buzz, Drake finally dropped his full-length debut Thank Me Later in 2010. It flew straight to the top of the charts and scanned 1.5 million copies. It also produced a string of memorable singles, including "Find Your Love" and "Over."

Take Care

In 2011, Drake issued his sophomore LP. Take Care featured a bevy of stars: Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000 and more. Take Care further explored the dark and sensuous aesthetic of Drake's previous work.

It was well received by fans and critics alike. Take Care docked to the tune of 631,000 copies in its first week and eventually sold over 2.5 million copies in the U.S. It also scored a Grammy for Best Rap Album.

Nothing Was the Same

After a two-year break, Drake returned with Nothing Was the Same in the fall of 2013. NWTS featured a moodier, riskier sound. Unlike its predecessor, it was a largely solitary affair -- JAY Z was the sole guest rapper on the standard edition. Even that collaboration saw a feisty side of Drake, who tossed a few thinly-veiled shots at his collaborator on "Pound Cake."

If You're Reading This, It's Too Late

In February 2015, Drake unveiled a surprise mixtape/album titled If You're Reading This, It's Too Late. It featured familiar faces like Lil Wayne and rising alt-R&B maverick PARTYNEXTDOOR.

The lyrics were primarily aimed at his growing list of rivals, including Diddy, Tyga, Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino.

Rapping Style

Drake has an accessible style of rhyming. He favors a simple 4/4 flow with the occasional complex rhyme scheme. His topics engender universal appeal: love, loyalty, the vicissitudes of life, kittens.  His style is smooth and breezy, the culmination of years and years of gorging on late-90s R&B and southern-fried raps.

H-Town Love

Houston figures prominently in Drake's music. On any given song, you'll catch him referencing the Houston rap icons, the Galleria shopping mall or a Houston stripper or three. Drake has also teamed up with Houston elder statesman Bun B on numerous occasions.