Cover Story Uncut: Drake Talks About Romance, Rap, And What's Really Real

Cover Story Uncut: Drake Talks About Romance, Rap, And What's Really Real

Despite the episode described in our December/January cover story, "The Long Way Home"—during which Drake stormed off the set of our photo shoot—Aubrey Graham is a gracious host. After that incident he invited us to join him and his OVO crew for dinner at the Hazelton Hotel's ONE Restaurant, where he was staying while his apartment underwent construction.

It was there, among the moneyed Toronto folk and ostentatious decor, that the majority of our interview went down. Over drinks and seafood, Drake spoke for nearly two hours about a range of topics including his work in Toronto, his transformation as an artist and as a person, and where he sees himself in the future.

The conversation was candid and open, and we're giving it to you uncut. Think the full story has never been told? Read on....

Interview by Damien Scott (@thisisdscott)

How are you feeling about Take Care?

I feel great. I feel really good. If I had to drop it today, I’d be good. I’d be golden, but it’s just that I’ve made mistakes that weren’t crucial enough to be career ending, but I’ve learned so much from them, and I really want to utilize everything I’ve learned.

Have you done anything special in Toronto for this album?

The billboards. One of them is the Take Care promo, and then this one is our actual “Welcome To Toronto” population sign, but we changed it and did a bomb over it—so it’ll have the population underneath. We’re going to put that up. This is straight violation shit [Laughs.] It’s going to be fun man. I want everything to be in place. That’s the biggest thing.

What are some of the mistakes you feel you’ve made?

Nothing too specific. It’s mainly things like, “I could have paid more attention to this. I could have waited a little longer for that.” Even shit like what just happened. As a new artist, I would have been like, “Well, I’m going to do the shoot anyway, even though it’s not what we discussed and it’s not the way we want to do it. I’m going to do it anyway, because i don’t want to piss anyone off.”

So there’s this whole control aspect.

 

No one has any clue that literally two kids that I know from my city directed that 'Headlines' video. It just proves to you that if you give someone the resources, if they have the creative vision, anything is possible.

 

Yeah, but less than just being an asshole. I’ve witnessed artists just be demanding and controlling for the sake of their own ego. It’s got nothing to do with that man. It’s just that I’m proud of these guys man. They’re doing good work.

No one has any clue that literally two kids that I know from my city directed that “Headlines” video. It just proves to you that if you give someone the resources, if they have the creative vision, anything is possible. I’m not going to take anyone else’s bullshit and mix it in my vision. It doesn’t need to happen anymore.

If I get up in the morning, and I make it here, and I make sure my barber’s here to get my own haircut, still do the mastering that I needed to do last night... Like if I can do it, then nah, you’ve got to have my shit right for me. Just things I’ve learned. Like, I’ve wasted four or five thousand dollars on a video before. “Headlines” cost me like $60,000 to shoot.

What was your least favorite video that you’ve ever done?

Probably “Miss Me.” It was like, I had hired one director to do my whole album [Anthony Mandler], and I think towards the end creatively we fell out of sync on that video. We shot two videos in one day, one that didn’t even come out, which was “Fancy.”

It was just the end of that Thank Me Later chapter, not that I don’t like it. My favorite video is still “Best I Ever Had.” That video is a piece of work. That’s a genius video.

I can’t believe the “Miss Me” video cost more than the “Headlines” video.

Yeah, the “Miss Me” video cost me like, $250,000 or something like that.

That’s crazy. Just hearing the music that’s been coming out since Thank Me Later, there seems to be a theme of returning back home, like, “I’m more comfortable up here doing it with all my people.”

Yeah. I mean, you just summed up the whole concept of the album, which is... It’s actually a story based off of one song I did off of So Far Gone, “Houstatlantavegas.” The album is themed around the fact that if you look at the old covers and the old artwork, if you listen to a lot of the old music, I was always this kid looking from the outside into this world that I call “Houstatlantavegas,” which is just any given city at any given point in the night time with beautiful women, money, evils, and darkness. I was always intrigued by the nightlife.

In the interview for your first Complex cover, I was like, “Describe your album to me.” You said, “Bright lights at night. Driving through a city with bright lights at night.”

 

I was always this kid looking from the outside into this world that I call 'Houstatlantavegas,' which is just any given city at any given point in the night time with beautiful women, money, evils, and darkness. I was always intrigued by the nightlife.

 

Yeah. I spent a lot of years looking in through this glass window, and three years later I became like a king there. There’s no city that I go to that I don’t feel appreciated in that regard, as far as being accepted in that world, whether it’s a club, a strip club, a restaurant.

I took the biggest leap ever. It’s an unimaginable leap in my mind. I come there and these girls are dancing to my music. They know me. They want to fuck me too. Guys want to dap me up, talk to me. Guys that I don’t even know or guys that I respect, athletes, actors, rappers.

So that’s pretty much what the album is about. Instead of making reflective music, in the vein of... Like I said something on Thank Me Later, “I wish I wasn’t famous, I wish I was still in school.” At the time, that’s how I felt. I felt like, “Man, I missed out on something.” I don’t feel like that anymore. I’m fully embracing this right here.

This album, after “Marvin’s Room” it switches, and you’re in my world. You’re fully immersed in that moment, and there’s no doubt in my mind in those lyrics and in those songs. It’s not like, “Oh man, I’m thinking about this and...” No. It’s not “Club Paradise.” It’s not. It’s not that song. It’s not that brand of music. That’s why I put that song out. That song is not on my album.

That was just one night in the city, me thinking about things, and sort of writing a song about it, but it’s not that. I mean, of course those raps are there... It’s hard for me to really explain it without you hearing some of it. I’m like, fully in that world from that point on.

“Club Paradise” was interesting. One of the lines that struck me was you said a girl said you’re not popping back home, and you’re like, “What the fuck?” and she’s like, “Why do you care? You’re not even here.” Do you feel like you weren’t taking care of shit back home?

 

I said something on Thank Me Later, 'I wish I wasn’t famous, I wish I was still in school.' At the time, that’s how I felt. I felt like, 'Man, I missed out on something.' I don’t feel like that anymore. I’m fully embracing this right here.

 

Yeah. That was based off of a real conversation I had, for sure. The conversation was more like, “Damn, I can’t get any of these women I used to talk to to text me back.”

Their numbers have changed or they’re busy or they’re telling me, “No.” I can get any other woman to say, “Yes,” but I can’t get these women that I’ve actually cared about to say, “Yes.”

It was that girl telling me, “Yeah, they’ve moved on. You haven’t been here for years. You haven’t been home in the city for longer than two weeks in like, two years."

So of course, there’s new guys they have. There’s new jobs they have. There’s new things. They’re not thinking about you. The world doesn’t revolve around you.”

For someone in a position where your mind, your ego, and your heart are being pulled in all these different directions, that’s a crazy thing to hear. It’s like, “Man, these people can forget about you, even if they hear you on the radio everyday.

It doesn’t mean that they’re going to drop everything just because it’s you. They don’t give a fuck.” That’s when I said, “Man, sure they do.” That’s me telling myself. So yeah, that verse stems from a real conversation.

I can imagine someone telling you that. Everyone has those girls back home. I don’t talk to any girl from high school. Girls call me when they see a cover comes out or something, and I’m like, “Yo, come to the city. You’re just in Jersey, come to the city.” They’re like, “Nah nigga, I got a boyfriend. I was just calling to say congratulations.” When someone tells me that it shakes me, like, “How did I let that go?”

Yeah! And that’s the moment you realize, “Damn, this shit’s moving. We only get one of these lives. This shit’s progressing.” This girl told me the other day, “Well, I’m leaving for Istanbul today. To move with my new boyfriend.” I was like, “Damn, it’s that time already? It’s time to pick up and start over somewhere else already?”

 

I get so much love in a day. When I have to go home and sleep by myself I’m never really tripping anymore, because my desires are fed all day by all of these people on the street. It sets in when you go home.

 

Like, I’m 24 man. [Ed. Note—This interview took place before his 25th birthday on October 24.] You just start to realize how fast life is moving, and how other people don’t have this to look forward to every day. So they have to figure out something.

There’s way more people that are never going to experience this than there are that will experience this. So for those other individuals, they have to find other things that make them happy and occupy time. They have to have real jobs and real connections with one person, not a bunch of people. They don’t get to go around and see the world.

I guess I always feel like company is kept, because I shake so many hands in a day, I get so much love in a day. When I have to go home and sleep by myself I’m never really tripping anymore, because my desires are fed all day by all of these people on the street.

It sets in when you go home. It’s like, “Damn I don’t really have any of that here in this atmosphere,” but then I start saying, “Oh well, I’m young. I’m young.”

That’s scary too, because it’s like, I’m young but if I don’t start building something now that means what? I’m going to start building something after my rap career, when I’m in my thirties? That’s going to be weird too, or tough. So yeah, that’s just some girl shit. [Laughs.] That’s the basis of that little verse there.

I feel you. Most people wouldn’t think Drake thinks thoughts like that. “Marvin’s Room” for example, real dudes who I grew up with, like gangster niggas hit me on some, “Yo, you hear this Drake shit? That nigga’s spitting some real shit, but come on. That nigga ain’t really calling no bitch at midnight trying to fuck.” That’s the impression that people get. Like, some of what you’re saying is real, but you’re not really doing all that.

If I wasn’t doing it, it wouldn’t resonate with you like that. It’d be another song like, “Yeah, girl. I’m going to hit you and call you at midnight.” [Laughs.] It would be that, and you’d be like, “Man, I don’t feel this shit.”

 

Things will happen, and I will write them down as they’re happening. I mean the vivid detail of what’s going on. In 'Marvin’s Room' for example, where it’s like, 'We threw a party/Yeah, we threw a party...' that’s a real moment in my crib.

 

Things will happen, and I will write them down as they’re happening. I mean the vivid detail of what’s going on. In “Marvin’s Room” for example, where it’s like, “We threw a party/Yeah, we threw a party/Bitches came over/Yeah, we threw a party/I was just calling, because they were just leaving/Talk to me please, don’t have much to believe in,” that’s a real moment in my crib. As I’m doing this shit, I’m also writing down what I’m doing, so I can capture it later.

I just have a thing in my brain that when I’m about to do something that’s genuine or authentic, I think of it in song form. I’ll be like, “Yo, this is a human emotion that no one talks about.” It’s crazy doing songs like that.

I’m so excited, I have a song on my album called “Lord Knows.” It’s me and Rick Ross, and Just Blaze produced it. I rapped like 52 bars or some shit. There’s four bars in there, and it’s such a great feeling when I can sum up an emotion so quick.

Instead of me lashing out in interviews, or me lashing out at all these people that say, “Man, you make emotional music,” there’s some things that I’ve really realized just in my career and in the making of this album.

It doesn’t have much to do with girls or “Marvin’s Room,” but it’s just something that I wanted to say. I say, “They take the greats from the past and compare us/I wonder if they’d ever survive in this era/In a time where it’s recreation to pull all of your skeletons out the closet like Halloween decorations.”

I went to an art school, man. I didn’t know I was going to be some big rapper one day. I went to an art school and the coolest kid in my class was a kid named David Rendel. He was an up-and-coming director, and he had a film in the film festival.

 

I went to art school, man. We were all trying to be actors. So we had to shoot an anti-bullying campaign for drama class, and I did some class project where kids made fun of me and put gay porn in my locker and shit and it all falls out or whatever.

 

We were all trying to be actors. So we had to shoot an anti-bullying campaign for drama class, and I did some class project where kids made fun of me and put gay porn in my locker and shit and it all falls out or whatever. I did it, because I wanted to be down with Dave Rendel. He was the guy! If he had a role for me, what’s popping? I didn’t know Jay-Z or Lil Wayne. I was in class.

That was the biggest dude that you knew.

It was just exciting for me, I was in art school. I’ve never lied and said I wasn’t there, that’s where I was. It’s just so crazy man, for that shit to surface now, and the impact that it has on my character and how people perceive me and my music and shit.

I’m never embarrassed man. That’s the thing. I have no skeletons where I’m like, “Damn, I hope this never comes out.” That’s the good thing about me. There’s people out there with real skeletons. REAL skeletons.

You should hear the shit I have on tape that people have called me like, “Don’t put that in there.”

I can imagine. I don’t give a fuck man. I’ve done nothing in my life that I’m ashamed of. I had a reason for doing everything. I say this line on my album, “I’m hearing all of the jokes/I know that they’re trying to push me/I know that showing emotion don’t ever mean I’m a pussy/I know that I don’t make music for niggas that don’t get pussy/So those are the ones I count on to diss me or overlook me.”

Again, I’ve always wanted to say that somehow, and I just hit it on the head that time. I don’t ever have to respond to anybody ever again. That’s all I’ll say. You can say about “Marvin’s Room,” “Oh, that’s some wack shit, some gay shit, he’s soft,” whatever. Believe me, it’s not. Believe me it’s not, just based off the fact that I’ve seen what that record does to women.

 

I don’t make music for niggas who don’t get pussy. I don’t. If you have a frustrating time with women, and you just spend your life hating on everybody, I’m not for you. I’m not for you. You’re an overly aggressive, bitter-ass dude that only wants to listen to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

 

What else should I care about? It’s not a rap song. I’m not rapping for dudes who are... But, being under the microscope in that sense has really made me a stronger person. Like, I’m really not ashamed of who I am.

I’m so solid on who I am, who I’ve been from day one, who I am now, the music I make, the decisions I make. I used to be so tuned into what people had to say about me, their little comments and shit on the radio and online. I just don’t care anymore.

I’m so glad to be at that place where I know who I want to be appreciated by, and as long as I’m appreciated by those people, I don’t know man, I just don’t care. But I was talking about pinpointing emotions. On the flip side of it, on some girl shit, I could do it. But as well, it’s like, being able to get that thought out, man.

I don’t make music for niggas who don’t get pussy. I don’t. If you have a frustrating time with women, and you just spend your life hating on everybody, I’m not for you. I’m not for you. You’re an overly aggressive, bitter-ass dude that only wants to listen to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and some shit that was incredible while you were in your prime.

Like, that shit’s incredible to me too. I just appreciate it. I don’t hate on it. People are always like, “Man, this isn’t real rap,” but I don’t know man. It’s real to me, and a lot of other people apparently. That’s all I have to say about that. By the way, I love that album.

That’s just what I get all the time like, “Yo, I remember when I used to go to Wu-Tang shows and be scared. These Drake shows is pussy. It’s just bitches there.” I’m like, “What? That’s a great place to go! You don’t have to be scared. You can have a great time, get some liquor, see some very attractive women. I’m telling you it’s a great place to go. You need to get down with the movement, for real.”

Let’s talk about what real is to you. If we break down what “real” means in hip-hop, it’s speaking about what you’re actually going through in your life and not fabricating anything.

Well, here’s the thing. I think what people often get misconstrued is there’s a sonic real and there’s a connection real. So, often people are like, “This isn’t real,” because to them real is a sound. It’s sonic. It’s not gritty. It’s not hip-hop. There’s no boom-bap to it. It’s 40 playing sweet-ass chords and filtered drums. That’s not real to them.

That’s just people whose ears are trained for a certain sound, and they feel that’s hip-hop. More power to them. I respect that. If you have a genre that you’re passionate about or a type of music that you’re passionate about, I salute you for that.

 

There’s a sonic real and there’s a connection real. So, often people are like, 'This isn’t real,' because to them real is a sound. It’s sonic. It’s not gritty. It’s not hip-hop. There’s no boom-bap to it. It’s 40 playing sweet-ass chords and filtered drums. That’s not real to them.

 

I love when people get upset and say my music isn’t hip-hop. I’m like, “That’s great. You’re passionate about something.” I’m not saying I agree with it, but I’m glad to see they’re passionate about something.

Sonically you can do whatever you want, but if you can get those words on there that are refreshing, even if we’re all saying the same thing, which is, “I have money. I have bitches. My swag is way up.” We may all be saying the same thing if you really break it down to the core of what we’re really getting at. I mean, it’s a couple things.

You know how many times I’ve regrettably hit a girl drunk and played that exact same moment out and never thought to make a song about it? Then one night I was like, “What a fucking song.”

Why wouldn’t I do that? Who doesn’t have that moment? This is unanimous—any culture, any race. Everyone’s been in love. Everybody has someone that they just go to. I know there’s one girl...

Listen, I’m back in the city, I’ve pushed my album back, I have leeway, I know there’s one person I want to see. I’m going to hit her no matter what. I don’t even have to be drunk, and that’s the same girl I would hit when I’m wasted just to say, “I love you.” Even if I really don’t.

We all have those moments when it’s gratifying to us at that time. Shit like that, man, to me, that shit is it. Anyone that can do that, there’s beautiful, beautiful songs. I just love when it resonates with people.

 

I love when people get upset and say my music isn’t hip-hop. I’m like, 'That’s great. You’re passionate about something.' I’m not saying I agree with it, but I’m glad to see they’re passionate about something.

 

Frank Ocean did this song called “Thinking About You.” That’s like, one of my favorite songs I’ve heard in a lot of years man. That’s real shit. Just based off the words, it’s like, “Damn.” It’s simple thought. It’s a simple emotion, but he just pinpointed so many specific things.

Like, when he says, “A tornado flew around my room before you came/Excuse the mess it made/It usually doesn’t rain in Southern California,” I remember bringing girls back to my messy room like, “Damn, my bad about this shit.” [Laughs.] That’s real shit. That’s life. To get those emotions through music is life to me. That’s life to me. That’s what real is to me.

On the rap side, I don’t know what I’m looking for anymore as far as real goes man. I don’t know what’s real and what’s not. I just like great rap music. I think that’s the difference in rap right now, nobody’s listening to hear if it’s real or not.

When Pac was rapping, when Big was rapping, people were like, “Yo, I’m listening to hear if this is real.” I don’t think anybody’s listening for that anymore.

You bring up Pac, this is a dude who was an art school student. He wasn’t a gangster until he went to jail, and then he came out and he was this completely different, new character.

Yeah, man. I’ve been studying early Pac a lot on this album. It makes me feel better. It’s okay, man. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sure, he became a gangster rapper and a legend, but if you read some of his early works just as an introspective young kid, he’s a genius, man. There’s nothing wrong with that. That shit is cool. It’s cool to be smart and not get in trouble.

Going to jail is not fun.

 

If you read some of 2Pac's early works just as an introspective young kid, he’s a genius, man. There’s nothing wrong with that. That shit is cool. It’s cool to be smart and not get in trouble.

 

Nobody wants to go. Even when you talk to some of these guys... Like, I always avoid trouble. At the same time, anybody could be ready for trouble. Know that. Just because you play a character in music or in videos or whatever, a lot of those guys aren’t even ready for half the trouble that comes their way, real shit.

You just start playing a role and everybody perceives you as that, but the people I grew up with are with me at all times. Ask my security guard, I don’t think he’s ever really worked. I mean, looking around and shit and rocking a couple fans, but I never put him to work. I don’t ever want to. Why? You know? But, I’m ready. Is that real?

You’re ready?

I’m ready for whatever. I don’t give a fuck. I want to move through life in the most non-confrontational way possible, but I’m not a pussy. Don’t ever get that mixed up. Everyone comes up to me, “I love your music,” even the hardest dudes, real street dudes.

Dude, you should come to Bed-Stuy where I live. Come to my barbershop. All my barbers are fucking ex-cons. They’re good people, they just got caught up in some shit and are trying to turn their life around and shit, but ask them if they fuck with Drake, and they’ll tell you, “Yes.”

I’m the guy that will go there. I’ll go. I don’t walk in fear man, because I don’t portray an image. If somebody wants to bring a problem to me, it’s strictly based off of their immense amount of hate for me.

It’s never because I’ve sparked that using my voice, my image, or my outlet. I never use my outlet for confrontation or negativity, ever. I always just try and give people music to ride to and music to enjoy. All I ever ask in return is that it’s mutual love. That’s it.

On some songs, even on “Headlines,” people perceive you to be talking tough when you talk about “catch a body like that?” How do you feel when people say, “Come on, dog. You ain’t going to catch no fucking body.”

 

We always put forth a unity in this city. I know every street rapper out here—real street rappers by the way, because there’s some bullshit-ass people out here that’ll try and go at me and take their little shots and shit—but I know everybody that’s official. It’s all love.

 

My thing is, the way I utilized it was in the first verse when I say, “You’re going to make someone around me catch a body like that,” that’s something you can ask them about. Like I said, I’m ready at all times, for anything. I understand how unpredictable this shit is.

When I say I’m going to catch a body, my whole verse was centered around rap. It was about killing off rappers. Because, I’m not going to like... That’s not me. But even in the “Headlines” video people were like, “Aw man, Drake’s got some hired goons.” Those are people I grew up with.

All of them?

All of those people.

Someone told me, and correct me if I’m wrong, but some of the dudes are from Malvern and Galloway, and those neighborhoods were warring.

That video, to us, is like... There’s a lot of people lost in that situation, and through having mutual friends in both of those hoods, we were all able to come together, shoot that video, and immortalize that moment. There’s no more of that shit really. It’s all good man.

We’re just trying to push this movement, push this city further. That was a different time. Everyone was a little bit younger, shit was a bit more wild, but I don’t brag about my hood stories. Just like you said, everybody’s like get the fuck out of here with that shit, but I’ve done a lot for the streets out here.

Like what?

Shit like that. I bring people together. I put together OVO Fest, where everybody from every hood comes. There’s no killings, there’s no shootings, there’s no nothing like that. We always put forth a unity in this city.

 

I don’t brag about my hood stories. Just like you said, everybody’s like get the fuck out of here with that shit, but I’ve done a lot for the streets out here.

 

I know every street rapper out here—real street rappers by the way, because there’s some bullshit-ass people out here that’ll try and go at me and take their little shots and shit—but I know everybody that’s official. It’s all love.

That’s got a lot to do with how happy I am in my life too, because I’m at a good place. I’m good with everybody and I try to present opportunities to everybody that I can, whether it’s a T-shirt or, “Come out to this party.”

I just show love to the city. That’s something I think you should ask Chubbs about, just that whole day, and that video, and being a part of that moment. Those guys are from a serious hood, you can read about it in the news. It’s bad.

Yeah, I read about a couple kids getting killed.

We’re just showing people that negative is something we’re not portraying at all. I’m not in the video with burners out like, “Any one of y’all can get it.” It’s not about that.

It’s interesting, because that’s the way people took it.

Well, of course, because it’s me. They nitpick at everything.

Yeah, It was like, “Oh, Drake’s trying to be hard now. Drake’s in all black now.”

[Laughs.] Yeah, like I can’t wear batting gloves. I can’t do anything. All they want me to do is dress so they can make fun of me. Otherwise, it’s hard for them. I don’t give people many reasons to dislike me. They have to find shit. They’re like, “Aw man, sweaters. He wears sweaters too much. That’s wack, sweaters.” Like, “What?”

You can’t be warm, nigga. Take that shit off!

 

I don’t give people many reasons to dislike me. They have to find shit. They’re like, 'Aw man, sweaters. He wears sweaters too much. That’s wack, sweaters.' Like, 'What?'

 

It’s nitpicking, but I get it. There’s people who are contractually obligated to hate and be negative about shit. I just care about this world right here. For example, I could have came out and been like, “Yo man, look what I did man. Merging these two hoods, I’m a real-ass nigga,” but why? It was a moment for me. The fact that you even know about it, I’m shocked.

If I go out there and say, “Look what I did,” then it’s like, “You what? Nah.” Then people lash out, when I start taking credit. I don’t want credit for that. I’m just glad it happened, and I’m not going to go around and solicit it as a news story, “Drake brings the hoods together.” Nah. I’d rather just do it on my own man.

It’s the same shit how I used to say everybody thinks I went to some private school and my family was rich. Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I haven’t talked enough about it, but I didn’t grow up happy. I wasn’t in a happy home.

My mother was very sick. We were very poor, like broke. The only money I had coming in was off of Canadian TV, which isn’t that much money when you break it down. A season of Canadian television is under a teacher’s salary, I’ll tell you that much. It’s definitely not something to go fucking get.

Every story has you growing up in this very affluent, all-Jewish neighborhood.

 

Everybody thinks I went to some private school and my family was rich. Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I haven’t talked enough about it, but I didn’t grow up happy. I wasn’t in a happy home. My mother was very sick. We were very poor, like broke. 

 

Here’s the thing, I grew up on Weston Road. That’s near the west end of the city. It’s not the nicest area in the world. I grew up there. I moved to Forest Hill in the sixth grade. So I didn’t grow up in Forest Hill. I grew up out there. My pictures are in the school, I’m sure. You can go check it out. I went to Weston Collegiate for summer school. I wasn’t always in Forest Hill.

My mother happens to be a Jewish woman. She wanted the best for her family. She found us a half of a house we could live in. The other people had the top half, we had the bottom half. I lived in the basement, my mom lived on the first floor. It was not big, it was not luxurious. It was what we could afford.

I went to school with kids that were flying private jets. This guy distributes Rolex in Canada, and this person owns Turtle car wax, and this person owns Roots clothing, and I went to school with kids who were very fortunate. I never fit in. I was never accepted.

From there, I switched to a school called Vaughan Road, which again, is not by any means the easiest school to go to. It’s a tough school. I went to visit my dad in Memphis. I’ve been around a lot of shit in my life, and I just don’t solicit those stories. Those are just my stories man.

My life is mine to remember. Right now, I feel like I’m telling you this to prove something to you, and that bothers the fuck out of me. Why does it matter? Do I make music you enjoy? Fine. What does it matter where I came from?

Is it going to make you feel better to know that, “Oh man, I used to hang out with Yo Gotti and his manager in Memphis, before his manager got locked up, and I almost got shot in Memphis on New Years Eve, because we used to play around with guns and shit.” Does that make you feel better? Does that make me more official all of a sudden?

 

I went to school with kids that were flying private jets. This guy distributes Rolex in Canada, and this person owns Turtle car wax, and this person owns Roots clothing, and I went to school with kids who were very fortunate. I never fit in. I was never accepted.

 

I don’t know, that’s why I never do it. What’s the point? Then it’s the flip side like, “So what? You think because...” I don’t know man. For me, when it comes to ever, ever trying to explain myself or defend myself, I just let the music speak for itself. That’s all I want to be judged on anyway. My life is my life. That’s all that should matter.

Of course, it’s never going to be all that matters, because people in this generation especially, are obsessed with details of your life. I guess that’s what it is. I always feel guilty that if I start really telling people past-time stories about what I actually used to do, and the fact that I didn’t have a father, because he was in jail two separate times.

He did a two-year bid and a three-year bid, I was there when he got taken down. We had just gotten back from Memphis. Shit like that. I feel weird saying that shit, because why am I telling you this? It doesn’t have anything to do with my album, my music, who I am as a man. I’m doing it so readers can be like, “Aw man, fuck. That makes it a little better. Cool.”

I’ve seen a lot man. I’ve seen a lot of life, put it that way. I’ve been with the most blessed kids in the world. I’ve been with people whose life is right at the bottom of the barrel. I was on a TV show, I went to art school, I went to hood schools. I’ve lived. I’ve lived a full 24 years man.

You say you’re very happy, but it seems like some part bothers you somewhere.

Yeah. Every artist has their thing that’s going to consistently be a topic, and that’s my one thing. Thank God. Thank God I didn’t do anything stupid in my career for that to be the focal point of every interview. But yeah, that’s my one thing. I just want to make music for you. I don’t know how to prove to you that I’m official enough to listen to, or that you’ll feel okay as a man listening to my music.

 

Is it going to make you feel better to know that, 'Oh man, I used to hang out with Yo Gotti and his manager in Memphis, before his manager got locked up, and I almost got shot in Memphis on New Years Eve, because we used to play around with guns and shit'? Does that make you feel better? Does that make me more official?

 

That’s just my thing. We live in a very judgemental era. Even in that line that I said earlier about the greats from the past, like, I respect every artist right now man. Every artist. Every artist trying to make it right now is under a microscope that 10 years ago, six or seven years ago no one was under.

Like when Jay-Z pulled out Mobb Deep’s ballerina pictures, people were like “Oh!”

Right. That shit was like early Mediatakeout times and shit. That shit’s every day for us. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like for artists after us. Gossip and exposing goes hand-in-hand with rap music now, whereas before if they didn’t write about it in a publication you were good.

If Star and Buckwild didn’t go in on you on the radio, or whatever that lady’s name is, Wendy Williams. If they didn’t go in on you, you were golden. It was like, “What? They didn’t find out about that shit? I’m good.” Now it’s like, cell phones, e-mails. It’s FBI shit now.

Like I said, I live day in and day out knowing that there is nothing that I’ve done in my life ever that I fear the day that it comes out. Even that shit from my class project the other day, I laughed at it. I was just like, “Yeah man, I was in school. What the fuck.” [Laughs.] I’ve never done anything crazy and that lets me sleep at night.

You said in a song, “I heard somebody say I fell off.” How would you say the past year has gone?

That sort of directly applies to my last statement about how the generation’s changing. Taking a year to make an album now is like when Justin Timberlake or Usher used to take like four years to make their record.

I remember when artists used to take three, four year gaps and tour those albums for like two years, take a break to make the new album and drop it. Now it’s like, if you disappear for a week or they don’t get a new song every week, it’s like, “Oh man, you’re falling off, man. You’re slipping.”

They always want a new hero. They always want another hero. So every week it’s somebody new. Every weekend it’s the greater-than sign, another artist, and my name after it. But it’s always my name, that’s the difference. So that lets me know something.

I bought a piece of art when I was in LA, I went to an art showing. I was walking around looking at all the pieces, and I came to this one piece and my heart dropped. It was this light piece, and it said “Less Drake, More Tupac.”

I’m staring at the wall, man, and at first it was just anger. I felt like ripping that shit down. Then I stood there for a second, and I was like, “That’s my name up there. I’m representative of this generation, and this guy loved Pac enough to make this piece, and that’s fucking amazing man.” Because you know what? I hope some day someone will make that piece for me, and it’ll be like, “Less Whatever, More Drake.”

But just the fact that my name is up there at this art gallery as a piece of someone’s art, and they felt like... It could have been anybody else. It’s evident that he doesn’t like my music, which is okay. I ended up buying the piece and putting it up in my crib too. It cost me like $6,000. I put it in my place in Miami, in the studio, just to remind me that I’m doing something right.

Your question was about the past year though. I got off topic. That shit’s like the instant gratification, the Twitters, and RapRadars, and NahRights just giving us what we want all the time—so quick. So falling off, like I said, is like not having a song out for a month. “You’re falling off.” It’s pushing me to work harder.

The last year’s just been about perfecting this body of work man, and really getting deeper in the story and telling people more about me and making changes within my team that are incredible. Things like Oliver becoming my manager and us taking videos into our own hands.

 

If you disappear for a week or they don’t get a new song every week, it’s like, 'Oh man, you’re falling off, man. You’re slipping.' They always want a new hero. They always want another hero. So every week it’s somebody new. Every weekend it’s the greater-than sign, another artist, and my name after it. But it’s always my name, that’s the difference.

 

My mother got surgery, she’s healthy. She got surgery on her spine. Her head was separating from her spine, so they had to reinforce it, but she’s looking younger than ever, moving better than ever. I sent her on her first vacation in like 22 years. She went to Rome.

I’m just really excited for people to get this album, that’s it. I’ve dedicated my entire life to this project, so I’m excited for people to get it. Then like, growing my hair and shit, hanging out with 40. [Laughs.] I’m getting an acting thing in order for when this album’s done. I want to get back into that for a bit.

Are you going to put music on the side?

No, I’m still working on music. I’ve got projects I’m working on already, after this. Me and Ross are doing something together, like a mixtape. That’s going to be crazy.

Yeah, how does that circle work? Then there’s people saying Kanye’s going at Young Money.

Where?

On “Otis.” And then Wayne going at Jay. It seems like it’s so incestuous.

I don’t know what they’re going to say when they hear my album then. That shit’s going to make headlines, no pun intended.

It seems like everyone’s cool on the surface. You have Young Money, Maybach, you have Jay-Z and Kanye—and all of you guys seem cool, but people think you guys are going at each other.

That just goes back to that point where it’s like, which rapper is going to catch a body on a gun? Which rapper is going to come up and tell you fuck you? Nobody. I think Maybach’s excluded from the conversation, because that’s just all love.

 

It’s always smiles at the award shows. It is what it is. I’m cool with Jay-Z. Jay-Z is genuinely my friend. Whatever occurred there, or whatever the feelings were, it was never communicated to me... Wayne never explained anything to me, Jay, never. They don’t involve me. I’m sort of excluded from that.

 

I’ve got so much love for Ross. That’s like my favorite person to rap with, period. We do so much music together, that’s my dude. Khaled is family, Wale, Meek. What they’re doing over there is great. That’s all love, I think that’s excluded from the conversation.

As far as the other thing goes, yeah man, it’s always smiles at the award shows. It is what it is. I’m cool with Jay-Z. Jay-Z is genuinely my friend. Whatever occurred there, or whatever the feelings were, it was never communicated to me. It was never like... Wayne never explained anything to me, Jay, never. They don’t involve me. I’m sort of excluded from that.

I was on the song, but just like Jada said, we did our verses over a beat. That’s how Wayne stretched that out. He sent us the beat, just like he sent the beat that everyone’s rapping on. It was a real rap-oriented album. He just sent us the beat like, “Do your thing.”

It’s all silly to me when people try to deny that Jay took a shot too, like that’s silly. Don’t do that. To me, that’s silly to be like, “Oh no, that wasn’t for you.” Come on. This is rap, we’re rappers here. Like, when I heard that I was like, “Yooo! Oh shit.”

Do you wish that rappers were more open about it? Like, do you wish rappers were like, “Yeah, I took a shot?”

No. I’m just saying, like, I’m staring at a white table cloth, and it’s really hard for me to tell you this is black, because we’re both here looking at it. We both see it the same way.

So if you’re going to do it, just commit to it. I wouldn’t try and fool people. It’ll never blossom into anything, because no one wants that shit. No one wants to see that shit.

 

I got love for Jay. Obviously, Wayne is my brother, so that’s over anything. But that doesn’t even need to happen. Jay’s been in legitimate beefs. I always like when beefs are with people you genuinely don’t like. I don’t think those guys don’t like each other. But I like when people own up to their shots.

 

I got love for Jay. Obviously, Wayne is my brother, so that’s over anything. But that doesn’t even need to happen.

Jay’s been in legitimate beefs. I always like when beefs are with people you genuinely don’t like. I don’t think those guys don’t like each other. But I like when people own up to their shots.

I think everyone does.

I hate hearing, “Aw man, nah. That wasn’t...” People try and pick out shots that I took, and they’re genuinely not shots that I meant to take, you know?

When you said “The throne is for the taking,” people were like, “Oh shit. Drake’s going at Jay, he wants to take his spot.”

Well, now the word “throne” is automatically a shot. It’s just like when I said “Boy.” When I say the word “Boy” now, everyone’s like “Aw man, that’s a Big Sean diss.” No, it’s not. I guess, when a word is associated with somebody, it’s automatically like, “That’s a diss.”

And with the Pusha thing, I didn’t hear him diss me. I really listened to it one time, and I didn’t really hear enough to be like, “Aw, man.” Plus, you used my beat and you used my flow. So if you’re going to diss me, you can’t do that. But I don’t think it was.

I remember in the first interview we did you were like, “I want to find a girl that I really fucking like, and that I really fucking love, and settle down.” Do you still have those feelings?

Yeah. That would be great. That’s probably harder than putting out albums and shit.

At 24, and being one of the most famous people in the world, how could that be a goal?

I don’t know. It’s just something with me that I really enjoy when there’s a connection there with me and a woman. It’s like a comfort that comes over me when I have someone in my life that I can laugh with, talk to, be friends with, but also be attracted to. I just feel like that does something for me. It’s just in my make-up, in my character. That’s what I like. As opposed to...

 

I’ve had my fun. I’ve seen what a lot of places have to offer and shit, and it’s cool, it’s just empty. It’s weird when you fuck a girl and she doesn’t even expect for you to hit her again. That’s a shitty place to be at in your life.

 

I’ve had my fun man. We’ve been out here going hard for a while now, you know? I’ve had my fun. I’ve seen what a lot of places have to offer and shit, and it’s cool, it’s just empty. It’s weird when you fuck a girl and she doesn’t even expect for you to hit her again. That’s a shitty place to be at in your life, you know?

Or when women are automatically judging you based on things they’ve heard or the minute you want to do something... Like, when I’m like, “Oh, let’s go out for dinner. Let’s do something other than meet up at 4 am,” they think it’s weird. They’re like, “What?” That’s weird to me, man. [Laughs.]

I want to be appreciated like a human being and shit. That’s why I always find myself backtracking, because I’m always trying to find a woman that’s known me before all this. So I have a tendency to move backwards instead of moving forward. Trying to meet new women, it’s always a little more difficult as opposed to calling somebody I knew that’s single and trying to rebuild that connection.

Well, you’ve been seen with some women in the press.

Like who?

I’m going to throw out some names and you tell me what comes to mind. Serena Williams.

I really, really love and care for Serena Williams. She’s incredible. She’s probably like, the closest thing I’ve ever had to that in years, as far as being a friend and being there for me, being so funny and so supportive. She’s incredible. That’s someone that I’m very proud to say I know. She’s definitely in my life, and I’m in her life. And she’s a great athlete. It’s great to watch her play tennis. Very impressive.

You guys were playing together. She beat you?

 

Rashida [Jones] has a beautiful beautiful spirit. So talented, so funny. I met her at Rihanna’s birthday party. I was DJng and she liked my set. I was playing more for Beyonce because Jay was there with B, so I was really trying to impress B, to be honest with you.

 

Umm...Yeah but there’s a clip online where I gave her the business though.

I saw that.

Yeah, but with her left hand, she’d probably beat the majority of people.

How did you guys meet?

I think through some event or something. I don’t know. We met and then she asked me to play in her charity—as like a joke I think, she asked me to play as her partner in the Williams Invitational. So I started training with her. I went to a couple practice sessions and stuff, and she was like, “Oh, you’re actually good at this.”

We played in the Williams Invitational, and we made it all the way to the finals. We lost in the finals, but we kind of became this inseparable partnership as far as tennis goes. From there, she became someone I wanted to, like, speak to frequently and hang out. She’s just great. She’s a great person.

Is she the whole trifecta? Is she someone cool to talk to, someone to make you laugh, that you care for, and that you’re sexually attracted to?

Yeah, of course. But we haven’t really—it's just more we kind of kick it. We haven’t really got to like, the third thing. But just as far as, it's not like I could ever say that's my girl. As a great person in my life and a great friend and someone who is always there, she provides the company that I want. That's why she's dope.

Rashida Jones.

 

[Rashida] is someone I always admired from afar. That's one thing she probably doesn't know. I was, like, in love with Rashida. I love funny women and I love beautiful women and I love women that have great taste in music and Rashida is all those things. She's dope.

 

Rashida has a beautiful beautiful spirit. So talented, so funny. I met her at Rihanna’s birthday party. I was DJng and she liked my set. I was playing more for Beyonce because Jay was there with B, so I was really trying to impress B, to be honest with you. So I started playing mad Houston shit. The DJ before was alright, but me and Q-Tip came on and we fucked shit up.

And Jay was like “Yeah, that’s that shit.” I’m always like to see Jay happy and I always like to impress B. But yeah, I met her there.

Then, the craziest shit—we went on vacation, like me and all my boys, and they were at the same resort, so we hung out a bit. Just a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful person. I had to say it three times. She's, like, so kind and I’m very happy that I met her.

Just friends?

Yeah. Just someone to know. Someone I always admired from afar. That's one thing she probably doesn't know. I was, like, in love with Rashida. I love funny women and I love beautiful women and I love women that have great taste in music and Rashida is all those things. She's dope. That was good man, I thought you were going to go the typical route. That was almost a shocker. That was fun—I'm sad you only had two.

Do you see yourself as a sex symbol?

No. But I'm working on it. This album has also come with a life change for me. It really has nothing to do with taking my shirt off and being on magazine covers. I never really enjoyed that brand of entertainment. I just never want that to become a staple of my career where it's like I have to have my shirt off. But I'll still wear my sweaters and my sweatpants.

But I want to be super in shape. For the last 3 weeks I've made some major changes in my life, I've been going really hard, getting ready for this tour. One of my close friends is training me. Just, diet.

 

It really has nothing to do with taking my shirt off and being on magazine covers. I never really enjoyed that brand of entertainment. I just never want that to become a staple of my career where it's like I have to have my shirt off. 

 

Cutting out Hennessy, cutting out champagne, cutting out wine, which was devastating. Only drinking vodka soda because it's like no calories. Just doing like chicken breasts and vegetables three times a day. Amino acids and shakes and shit.

It's actually something, once you get past the first week of pain of working out, and then you get over the hump of seeing people eat fries and spaghetti. You really have to experience waking up with all that clean stuff in your body. There is a certain brand of liquor that your body is used to, as opposed to mixing it up or switching it up, and you really start to realize how much it does for you.

Like I can go longer in the day, I can stay energetic. After this, I'm going to want to go do something where normally I'd be like ‘I’m gonna go upstairs’ just, sluggish. It was a personal thing, I just really want to get out there and kill these shows.

I made a huge judgment call to not go into arenas this year, like not headline an arena tour despite the fact that I have a deal with Live Nation and despite the fact that I have to fulfill that contract. I just feel like this might be the last chance to do the shows I want to do and see the people I want to see. My first show was in Carbondale, Ill. Southern Illinois University. That was my first show I ever did.

So I routed this tour based off of monumental moments for me. Like I want to go do Warehouse Live again in Houston because it was one of my craziest shows. SIU was my first show, VCU was my worst show. I was like super sick, it was the day before I got a live band. And they were supposed to show up and they didn’t show up, so it was just me and my DJ.

 

I've been going really hard, getting ready for this tour. One of my close friends is training me. Just, diet. Cutting out Hennessy, cutting out champagne, cutting out wine, which was devastating. Only drinking vodka soda because it's like no calories. Just doing like chicken breasts and vegetables three times a day. Amino acids and shakes.

 

They told me it was a small show, there were 8,000 people in the stadium. I was so nervous. This tour is really for me, all the colleges I went to on So Far Gone tour, I'm going to.

I'm going out with ASAP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar. I just really want to, for myself and for the people, I want to be in shape, able to do an 1:45 minutes and be strong, and look strong up there. Because I feel stronger on this album, I feel like I’ve defined my character more.

And I just want to embody it on all levels. The way I dress, they way I look, the way I sound. I just want to give the people that moment because I feel like it’s my moment and we deserve to share it together.

So I'm working as hard as I can to cover every base, and physical conditioning is one of them and it’s just kind of my thing. Sex symbols to me are like David Hasselfhoff, like epic, I’d say like for our generation, like. I don't see myself like that.

I remembering hearing that when, at a show once, D’Angelo didn’t take his shirt off, people were like, “what the fuck?”

I can only imagine because when I'm at shows, girls are always yelling “Take your shirt off.” That’s what concerts are to young girls. Like I want to see this God-like man on stage and I want to see him half-clothed because I’m fucking 18, 17 years old and that’s what I think this is about. If you enable it, if you allow it to become that, it has nothing to do with music.

 

When I'm at shows, girls are always yelling “Take your shirt off.” That’s what concerts are to young girls. Like I want to see this God-like man on stage and I want to see him half-clothed because I’m fucking 18, 17 years old and that’s what I think this is about. If you enable it, if you allow it to become that, it has nothing to do with music.

 

My shows right now are all about the music. My fans may be on some wild heart-throb shit, but they leave there with a musical experience. They don't leave there empty-handed or like, saying “I got pictures of him with his shirt off.”

But I would like to do Men's Health. Or I would like to do something that shows the work that I've put in. but not every night. That's a crush thing. But then again maybe if I was stupid cut maybe I wouldn't say that. In eight weeks you might have to check back in with me. I might be walking around New York with my shirt off.

How did you first hear about The Weeknd?

Oliver was the first one that played it for me. I remember he called me out of my house, I came downstairs and we took a little drive. And he played me “What You Need” like a demo version, and played me “The Party” and “The Afterparty” the demo version. I was like, “Yeah man, this kid has a great voice and I’d love to see what he does.”

Abel was just a hard worker, he created this body of work that was undeniable. I think the first time I was really sold, like super convinced is I heard “Crew Love” [which is] actually on Take Care, and I was like, “Man, I need to do this with him for the album, this song is special.”

That was the moment where I was like this kid is our city, he is making a soundtrack to our city and that’s something to embrace, that’s not something to resist. And then we started realizing how many mutual friends we had and it was perfect.

And OVO/XO just came naturally like on some just talking back and forth shit, And now you can ask anyone in this city and they will know what that is.

It’s not on some goofy shit, it’s just on exactly what we were talking about, this whole union that we built. We built an alliance in the city. The city hasn’t really seen anything like that before.

 

OVO/XO just came naturally, like on some just talking back and forth shit, And now you can ask anyone in this city and they will know what that is. It’s not on some goofy shit, it’s just on exactly what we were talking about, this whole union that we built. We built an alliance in the city. The city hasn’t really seen anything like that before.

 

There have been alliances but not like, the cumulative success, the fact that The Weeknd is so successful, that I'm so successful, the fact like Hyghly and Lamar directed the videos, that Oliver is my manager, the fact that everyone is playing their part in this beautiful machine that is working so well.

At the end of the day, I don’t look at it like, they love Drake. They love my crew. They love everybody. These girls love C.J. more than they love me, trust me. My boys, their characters are just as interesting.

And then you’ve got The Weeknd and his young boys, who are a whole different brand of interesting. They just love what we have to offer as a whole, as opposed to just me being like, “This is me, this is all me.” Nah, they love my crew. And that's just what it’s all about.

Is it by design that The Weeknd is so elusive?

Again it's just a natural union. It just happened that way. I don’t know if I would have been as attracted to an over-eager kid that was threatening to be in every interview. I loved his demeanor, I loved what he stood for, which was like, “I've got this vision I want to put out but I don’t give a fuck about that other stuff.”

Now, he's slowly starting to discover the joys of doing live shows and being around fans. For a while, there were no pictures of him. He was really a kid. The reason why I think we connect so well is because he lets his music speak, that's what he wants to be judged on.

There were a lot people pissed about that canceled New York show.

Yeah. They will be alright though. They will get over it. There are going to be a lot of people pissed when I tell them they have to wait until Nov. 15 for my album too. [Laughs.]

One of our staff members tweeted, “Why is it every time I have a conversation about upcoming albums, it always ends with 'Yeah but I can't wait for that Drake album though.'” That's a lot of pressure.

It's not, because I have the product. With So Far Gone, it wasn’t a matter of product, it was something we were doing on our own time, on our own schedule with no limitations, no sample-clearances, no deadlines, no nothing.

To me, as happy as I am about the result of that project, it was much easier to create than an album because it was just so free. It's hard to mess that up. You can do anything. You can take anyone's song and flip it.

Then Thank Me Later was a point in my life that was completely real. Not a little bit more, like a new aspect, like your life, it changed. And you are required to write an album about it in four months. But, we need it. And then want it. Not even like “we need it” because my labels never pressured me. But it was just like, that's the timeline.

You seem very excited and happy. All your boys are getting money. But in your music I hear a tinge of loneliness. Am I way off?

 

It gets lonely two times for me: One, when I see people's normal lives progressing, like falling in love, marriage, getting a job. When I catch glimpses of the life that I could have had—not that I'd ever want to go back—but it does make you feel a bit like 'Damn, I hope this is the right path and I hope I'm going to be OK.'

 

Yeah, it's a lonely life man. It belongs to the people, they go wherever they sell you. You travel according to however much money you want to make or whoever wants to book you. And yeah, it definitely gets lonely even if you bring people along.

It gets lonely two times for me: One, when I see people's normal lives progressing, like falling in love, marriage, getting a job. When I catch glimpses of the life that I could have had—not that I'd ever want to go back—but it does make you feel a bit like “Damn, I hope this is the right path and I hope I'm going to be OK.”

And then like, my apartment just makes the weirdest noises at night. Like I don't know what's going on in there, but it's like the weirdest clinks and clanks. It's super creepy and shit, so I hate sleeping alone.

Do you feel like, the success and the position you’re in now has enabled you to, like, become the “King of Toronto”?

First of all I never self-proclaimed myself, period. You did that. But I'll take it. Yes, success plays a major part in it. Obviously fame plays a major part it in. But it also takes some decision-making too, like I could've surrounded myself with some fucked-up people and they could’ve dragged me all the way down. It could've never ended up like this, you know?

I feel like I've made very very smart, conscious decisions that have landed me here, so I won't necessarily all the way attribute it to—for example, you take the OVO scenario. I can't attribute that to money or fame. That's just attributed to the way I treat people, and the way that I provided opportunity for some of the guys from all those places, hopeless places.

Giving them a reason to come together.

Again, I don't ever want to say that I've done that. Something could happen tomorrow and then I'm a liar. I'm just saying, on that particular day, on that moment, it was peaceful. We were drinking, we were laughing, it was all good right then and there.

 

I don't ever want to be threatening. That's just not cool to me. I'd rather be smart, get girls, get money, have fun with my friends. I don't ever want to be threatening, that's not something I'm ever working towards.

 

That's got a lot to do with the character that I am and the fact that I'm non-threatening to a lot of people, and I don't ever want to be threatening. That's just not cool to me.

I'd rather be smart, get girls, get money, have fun with my friends. I don't ever want to be threatening, that's not something I'm ever working towards. That sort of led me to the point I'm at as well.

Even in the city shaking hands, looking people in their eyes, always tipping people, being nice, signing autographs for little kids. People come to my table and ask me to sign something for their family, OK I'll do it. You are in my city and I love you. I'll do that anywhere really.

It's just like a demeanor, they will love you if you give them a reason to. But they don't love me for money or fame because that doesn't belong to them. It belongs to me. It's talent that brought me here, talent and the stars aligning and the right partnerships forming.

Really my money and my fame have nothing to do with anybody because they will never see into that. I can't say that someone loves me because my money is my money. You can love me for the lifestyle that I display.

That's different though, that has to do with me. If I give you enough to love me for that reason, then I'm doing something right because I could keep to myself and you would never see me. I feel like it has to do with the character, the person.

I'd love for you to explain that line “My top 5 either lost it or they ain’t alive.”

 

I just felt like at that time, my favorite rappers weren't moving me. I was like, do I really rap better than this guy that I look up to? What happened, did something change? 

 

I just felt like at that time, my favorite rappers weren't moving me. I was like, do I really rap better than this guy that I look up to? What happened, did something change? I won't even say names, just based off the fact that, it wasn't meant to, it could be anybody.

You put your top 5 in there. You ask yourself, are they still going as hard as they were? Or did something change in our ears or our minds? I don’t know. And just me kind of realizing like damn, has it really been that long, do my favorite rappers really only have like one or two albums left before it's time to call it quits? Or it gets awkward because they are rapping at a certain age about shit that isn't relateable?

Do you want to stop before you get a point where people are like, “Why is Drake still rapping?”

Yeah, I know I'm going to get to that point. Only because my career is thriving at 24. The only other person reminiscent of that is Wayne’s who had an opportunity when he was super young. That's very different from all these other rappers. A lot of these careers took off at 28, 29.

 

I tied 50 [Cent] for the most rap No. 1s in history. I'm just saying—the shit is crazy. It's crazy but that's the type of shit I don't dwell on. It's cool to read. I was like ‘Wow.’ It's great to read but I just want to keep doing it, you know?

 

So I know I'm at a spot before I get to that point but at the same time, I look at someone like Jay, and I always tip my hat to that guy. To span generations the way he has is incredible. I think Ye will do the same thing, you know. I think Ye has that mind, he's always down to make music that's groundbreaking. He's always there to take risks. I think he has the ability to make the exact same run.

But my music right now is just about being young, so I'm going to take that standpoint. That's just what I'm about. Right now, cause I'm allowed to be. I tied 50 [Cent] for the most rap No. 1s in history. I'm just saying—the shit is crazy. It's crazy but that's the type of shit I don't dwell on. It's cool to read. I was like ‘Wow.’ It's great to read but I just want to keep doing it, you know?

I didn't know I was that far along. I don't ever really keep track. If someone forwards me an email, I'll read it. It's not a numbers game, it's not a statistics game anymore. The only thing I ever register is how little rap artists have top No. 1s. Jay-Z, one top No. 1 his whole career. Wayne, one. Kanye, three. One. That's crazy! To penetrate that world, do you know how difficult that is? It's crazy.

Did you read that quote in Vibe where they asked Wayne if you were his competition? And he said, “No, why would I be worried about him as competition when I'm his boss?”

I respected him so much for the way he dealt with that question because at the end of the day that's true. Like I'm his soldier; I'm his artist—fucking right, he has all the right in the world to make that comment. People were like, “Oh shit!” I heard on the radio in New York like, “Oh man, oh man!” I respected him so much man, because he's right—100 percent. Like, yeah, that’s my artist.

And I think, to elaborate on it more—I overtalk, Wayne undertalks. He just makes a direct statement to explain himself, which I love so much because I talk so much. But what he's really saying is, anything Drake does is good for me.

He put a feather in my cap, so why would I ever trip? Drake owes himself more than me. That's great. It's like, the better The Weeknd does, the better for me, because I'm associated directly with him and launching that career. So anything he does is great for me. I respected Wayne for dealing with that shit.

It only seems to be rappers that are asked stuff like that.

 

I always know how to speak, how to handle myself, how to deal with it. I'm good. I do this shit. Day in and day out. It may have been a short period of time but I'm good. Like, my armor is heavy man. So you mention that guy on the radio or whatever, all these fucking turkeys want to talk about me, I'm ready man.

 

Yeah, it's straight competitive. But that's rap, that's the nature of it. They always want it to be like that. It's wrestling, you know? It used to be anyway. It's toned down a bit. But it really is though man, we are all just characters man.

It's just all wrestlers. It just so happens to come with good music. But a lot of people are just addicted to the story line. “Oh my goodness, this shot was thrown here. This guy was out here. He's fucking her.” I don't care about that.

I live for this, though. I look down there and I'm like, “Damn what are they doing?” Look at these people, like, how did I pull this together? It's crazy, like, How the stars all aligned.

It just fucking bugs me out. That's what I live for you know? Every one getting along, no fights, a good team, man. And a good life. That's what I live for. But I do this shit though. I live for it.

I always know how to speak, how to handle myself, how to deal with it. I'm good. I do this shit. Day in and day out. It may have been a short period of time but I'm good. Like, my armor is heavy man. So you mention that guy on the radio or whatever, all these fucking turkeys want to talk about me, I'm ready man.

Is it still fun for you?

Yeah, it's so fun. I love it man. I love it. The game has just started man. Just starting to get on our feet. Build this team, build this brand, little things with the control. Even today with the shoot. Like I said, I'm not going to take that shit I want things done my way. I want you to know that I have to stare at those photos, not the editor.

Everything you do now has to be within the vision of your circle.

 

My character is just me. But I'm a human being that you observe in some Truman Show-esque existence, so I become a character in your life. I become who you think Drake is. You know Drake now, me and you have sat down how many times.

 

Yeah. It has to be. I mean it's our vision. That's all we have and that's what I realized, like, that when I stare at pictures that I don't like—opportunities that I’ve taken that I sort of get iffy about—I realize that at the end of the day the guy that set it up, the company, the photographer, they don’t have to take any ownership. It's just me. I'm the one that is forever captured in that moment that I don't like or that I'm not happy with. So I'm never going to let that happen, or try my best to never let it happen.

Like the same way they tell me, “Yo, let's do the college market.” No, man. What? That's my only chance, why would I give you some bullshit-ass show that they've seen already from a million other rappers that are doing the college circuit right now with a DJ and a light set up?

I want to give those kids a moment, even if I have to come out of pocket for that shit because that's what they will remember. People don't understand moments. They don't get it. You can't let this shit pass you by. Like the [2009] BET Awards where I let fucking Stephen Hill convince me to perform while I fucked my leg up. That was one of the worst decisions I've ever made in my life, I'd never do that again.

How would you describe the Drake character?

The word character is to them. My character is just me. But I'm a human being that you observe in some Truman Show-esque existence, so I become a character in your life. I become who you think Drake is. You know Drake now, me and you have sat down how many times.

But to other people, like you said, there are people who think I grew up in a strictly Jewish neighborhood and ate out of a silver spoon and my mother probably has Botox injections in her face and I'm some rich kid.

 

I've heard it all. When my mother was getting surgery I went on Twitter, something I rarely do, and I tweeted, I don't know why, “Give praise to my mom today” or something like that. And I got a response like “I hope your mom dies in surgery.”

 

That's Drake the character to some people. And then there's like, aw man, Drake's my favorite artist, he's swagged out. It's where we're at as a generation. That's the Drake character, because I'm whatever you need me to be. But really, I'm just being myself.

I don't spend enough time around all these people, or give them enough material so they have to go form their opinions and that gives the formation of the character. That's not to say anyone's playing the role. I'm not saying they are lying about anything. It's just no matter what people are forced to develop a character.

You keep saying I'm down for whatever. I don't give a fuck. It reminds me of Pac when he said, “I'm ready for whatever.” Do you fear turning into that guy?

I don't have anything like that on my mind right now. I think I balance that really well, quietly, and I think that's why I can say with all conviction. You can make your moves, take your shots.

I've heard it all. When my mother was getting surgery I went on Twitter, something I rarely do, and I tweeted, I don't know why, “Give praise to my mom today” or something like that. And I got a response like “I hope your mom dies in surgery.”

 

One of my favorite lines: Fuck a blog dog, one day we will meet. We have to, it's inevitable. And we will see. I'm not scared of anybody. If you want to find out at any given moment, please see me in person. I am always willing to settle any issue that's on the table.

 

I was like, “Wow, what a pussy, disconnected world we are a part of.” That's some real, no consequences, I'll say whatever I want type of shit. But that's why that shit does not register and does not penetrate. Because it's not real. It's not your real emotions. It's not what you'd do if you were right here.

And that goes for any of these guys. Any of these guys that talk shit. Like I said, I deal with that aspect of it quietly and I am always prepared for whatever. And I'm not scared of anyone in this game or this game itself. Ever.

That's not even on some macho, I'm ready to fight. If your issues were really real, you'd come at me. We'd know if they were really real. But I acknowledge you have a job to do, and I'm the butt of your jokes because you think it's easy. But we will see if it's easy.

One of my favorite lines: Fuck a blog dog, one day we will meet. We have to, it's inevitable. And we will see. I'm talking about myself. Not I'ma fall back and let everybody else... No. I'll be the first one to say something. But I just deal with that quietly—that's not cool to me. Like you say are you afraid of becoming that dude? No.

I try so hard not to be that dude that, that's just how I conduct myself. I don't want to be that guy. But I'm not scared of anybody. If you want to find out at any given moment, please see me in person. I am always willing to settle any issue that's on the table. And that's it.

Tags: drake, interviews
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