When Drake first exploded into the rap mainstream with his debut album Thank Me Later—on June 15th, 2010, a decade ago this week—he seemed reluctant to rap about his hometown. Whether because he felt a new affinity for adopted homes such as Houston, Atlanta, and New Orleans—where he’d met and found success with Lil Wayne and other American rappers—or simply because he was hesitant to be thought of as Canadian, he almost never mentioned the streets, neighbourhoods, or landmarks of the city where he grew up.
Things really changed around the time of Nothing Was the Same, when having started from the bottom became a central part of the Drake narrative, and suddenly references to his humble beginnings were abundant. By the time of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and especially Views, Drake was taking every opportunity to shout out street names and restaurants, apartment buildings, and arenas. He must have realized at some point that, even if Toronto could never make him famous, he was now so famous he could put Toronto on. He even bestowed a new name on the place: the 6ix.
From Italian trattorias to condos downtown, to east-side slang to west-end strip clubs, these are our favourite Toronto references that Drake has ever made.