How did you give it to him? Was it just an instrumental?
Yeah, we were making the drum loop and...oh, man, I had smoked I don’t know how much weed. Even Drake, he came into that session and we were all smoked out. It was terrible how much weed smoke was in that room. I was surprised I could even hit a note. I had sung this melody—it wasn’t a hook, just an unfinished lyric. And he liked it so much, he was like, “I need to have this, man.... I know I’ve already taken ‘Shot for Me’ and ‘Crew Love’ and this and that.” And me, I was hungry at that time. I was like, “Dude, take anything.” At that point I was like, “Hell, yeah.”

In your mind, what was “The Ride” supposed to be?
There are two ways of making music for me. There’s a calculated route—like, I know exactly what I’m going to do with this song. And then there’s the free mind. That was one of the free-minded records. It was all subconscious. I’ll make the music first and loop it, and then I’ll go into the booth and start singing almost 45 minutes straight. And these are not words; this is gibberish. It’s a songwriter language. There are lyrics on Thursday, I don’t even know what the fuck I said. “Gone” was a complete freestyle.

 

I want to show the world that I can s**t out albums like nothing.

 

Isn’t that like eight minutes long?
[Laughs.] Yeah, exactly. With me, everything is a blank canvas. I’m painting this canvas by whipping the colors. I want to show the world that I can shit out albums like nothing.

The song “Kiss Land” has a new level of musicality and thoughtfulness that seems apropos for your first major label release.
I’m all about evolution. I’m the first person to judge myself. I listen to my music and I’ll be like, “This is shit.” Everyone around me is like, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

What are some flaws you saw in your past three releases?
Just technical, musical stuff. And, of course, writing. You’re bound to find flaws and repetition when you come out with three albums in one year. At that point I was very cavalier; I didn’t give a shit. Some people realize it and some don’t. Me, I’m very critical.

I’m not here to change or lie about what I’m going to do. What I sing about is what I sing about. But there’s a lot of cool twists with this album, because this album symbolizes everything that I’d never experienced in the past 21 years of my life. I’d never left Toronto. I’d driven to Montreal, but I’d never been on a plane before two or three years ago.

Wow. That’s crazy.
From when I was born to when I was 21, I never left Toronto. That’s why I’m such a city cat. Trilogy is my experiences in those four walls. Kiss Land is me doing the things I did in Trilogy in different settings. [Laughs.]

My favorite of the Trilogy set, which goes against conventional wisdom, is Echoes of Silence.
Really, the last one? Echoes of Silence was made in Montreal. I had a lot of darkness in that city.

My favorite song on that project is “Next.”
That’s an artist’s song. If you’re an artist, you can relate to that record. Especially if you’re in that hip-hop world, “Next” is for you.

It’s that balance of high and low. To start a song off, “She pops that pussy on a Monday.” Where is this going from there?
I’m a huge fan of R. Kelly’s. He’s a musical genius, and probably the most prolific artist of the generation before mine. Some of the lines he says, if you say them in a normal voice, it’s the most disgusting thing you could say to somebody. But I can say “Pussy-ass nigga” in the most elegant and sexiest way ever, and it’s accepted. If I can get away with singing that, I’m doing something right.

All that ignorance on my records—“When she put it in her mouth, she can’t seem to reach my…”—that’s me paying homage to R. Kelly, and even Prince to a certain extent. The things R. Kelly was saying were crazy. You can say it now and it’s nothing, but back then you couldn’t.

 

All that ignorance on my records—'When she put it in her mouth, she can’t seem to reach my…'—that’s me paying homage to R. Kelly, and even Prince to a certain extent. 

 

Since Trilogy, you’ve made songs with Wiz, Juicy J...
French Montana, Drake. They are all friends of mine. Every time Wiz came to Toronto, my friend would take me to his concerts and bring me backstage. To this day, he’s the realest dude ever. So when he asked me to work with him, I did it without hesitation.

When you do a feature for other artists, do you give them an entire song?
With “Crew Love,” it wasn’t like that. Like I said, that was my song. I had a hook and I had a second verse. And Drake heard it and he was like, “Fuck, man.”

There’s a second verse?
Yeah, there was a second verse on it.

You’ve got to play that for me!
I fucking hate that second verse. That was a complete freestyle as well. I’m glad Drake placed his vocals on it. That song was so special to him. I didn’t hear that verse until maybe four or five months after I gave it to him. Even with “The Zone,” I was scared I was going to have to put out Thursday before his verse came in because Drake takes his time. He makes sure that he says the right shit and his flow is on point.

It seems like your work on Take Care was similar to the way Kanye West enlisted Kid Cudi on 808s & Heartbreak.
Or when Jay-Z hit up Kanye for The Blueprint.

Do you think Drake tapped you to give Take Care that feel?
Yeah, he told me he wouldn’t be able to do the album without me. You can read it on the credits that he thanked me. I don’t know if that’s him being generous, but I gave him a lot of records. I made “Practice.”

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