Age: 26
Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Republic
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Active Since: 2006
Latest Release: Take Care
Recent Single: "Started From The Bottom"
We recently called Drake the LeBron James of hip-hop, a comparison that seems more apt by the day. Like LeBron in the 3rd quarter of Game 5 against the Pacers, when Drake harnesses his powers he can seemingly do anything he wants to do. In today’s pop landscape, crossover hip-hop hits are something of an anomaly. Drake notches one after another, with apparent ease.

In fact, he’s become a graceful facilitator, rap’s new kingmaker, bestowing his Midas touch on any lucky collaborator. Or, as he put it in his recent single, “5 AM in Toronto”: “Give these niggas the look, the verse, and even the hook/That's why every song sound like Drake featuring Drake...”

As expected, there’s been a backlash. People (sometimes even us) find fault with his outfits, his hand gestures, his haughtiness, his upbringing. You can call him emo, say he’s more of a singer than a rapper, or that he’s an actor and not even a rapper at all. But honestly, who can see him on the microphone? Drake isn’t the most dexterous MC and he doesn’t have the biggest vocabulary, but he says more in each of his verses than just about any of his peers.

His main subject matter is, increasingly, his own fame. But he has an uncanny ability to render his own unique situation into relatable, if not quite sympathetic, narrative. His fame is not a gimmick. His success is hard earned; his status well deserved.

There’s no album not named after the son of God more highly anticipated than his forthcoming Nothing Was the Same. The snark from sidelines will continue, no doubt, but like he says on “Lord Knows,” “I know of all the things that I hear they be poking fun at/Never the flow though, they know I run that/Fuck you all, I claim that whenever/I changed rap forever.”

A bold claim. But it’s legit. —Insanul Ahmed

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