Drake, the unlikely rap superstar

drakeAnyone who ever watched Drake — full name, Aubrey Drake Graham — the actor, on the Canadian teen drama series “Degrassi: The Next Generation” could never have imagined him evolving into the hip-hop megastar he is today.
Drake, in 138 episodes, portrayed wheelchair-bound student Jimmy Brooks. Handsome. Charming. Definitely not from “the ’hood.” On the show and outside of it, he didn’t look the part, or “sound the part,” of a rapper, but being one must have been swirling around in his head even then.
Another thing that sets Drake apart from his rap peers is his heritage — African American father from Memphis, Tennessee, Jewish mother from Canada. Drake was, in fact, born in Toronto. He even had a Bar Mitzvah and attended a Jewish day school.
He recalls the taunting and teasing he received from white Jewish kids. They regularly called him a “schvartze,” a derogatory term for black people, closely related to “nigger.”
“I’ve seen a lot, I’ve experienced things that didn’t make me happy, but they were character building,” he said. “That’s why I think people in the ’hood can still connect with what I’m saying even though that wasn’t my struggle necessarily. I speak from a place that’s just human emotion.”
But Drake didn’t let the adversity drag him down, make him sidetrack regarding his future plans.
“I think part of the whole appeal of me as an artist is that I had things that were initially seen as strikes against me, like being from Canada, being Jewish, being light-skinned. There’s all these things that in the stereotypical rap world don’t really fit the package.”
And the talk continues unabated.
“People like to build their own stories about my life,” he said. “I don’t know if it makes them feel better or if it makes it okay for them to not like me.”
Drake’s climb to the top of his game was swift, starting with a label signing in mid-2009. He has sold a massive number of copies of albums such as “Take Care,” “Nothing Was the Same,” “Thank Me Later,” “So Far Gone,” “Trophies” and “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.”
In addition, he has been seen in a number of films an on an array  TV shows.
Unfortunately, many of his songs are laced with profanity — practically a requirement in rap — with his albums carrying “explicit” warning stickers.
Hard? Yes. But Drake is not a straight-up “gangsta” rapper.
Feuds are as commonplace as warning stickers in rap and although Drake says he wants to “move through life in the most non-confrontational way possible,” he has had well-publicized riffs with such notables as Chris Brown and Common.
“My father taught me don’t ever fear another person,” Drake explained. “I don’t get myself mixed up with stupid sh–. But I do not fear anyone, especially none of these guys that are paid to talk sh–. I’m not confrontational, but if someone challenges me, I’m not going to back down.”
There are plenty of middle-aged rappers still immersed in the genre, but Drake, who will be 30 on Oct. 24, doesn’t plan to be one of them. The old school rap shows that have become so popular in recently years will never have Drake’s name on the marquee when he gets older.
As for those who question the genuineness of his relationship with tennis icon Serena Williams — they are seldom, if ever, photographed together — Drake says simply, “She’s incredible and I really, really love her.”

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