Seven years ago, a 23-year-old Drake was leading up to releasing his first studio album Thank Me Later. He had already linked with the likes of Lil Wayne and Young Money as well as helping write for Dr Dre’s Detox project. He was about to pop but was still bubbling away under the surface.
He met Semtex in Hyde Park for an in-depth chat, and now, seven years, four studio albums and five world tours later, the pair sat down again to talk about Drake’s undeniable world takeover.
You can watch the incredible hour long interview above, but first check out GRM Daily’s eleven best moments.
He used to sneak into the studio next to Degrassi studio to make music at night then sleep in his dressing room
When he was working on his TV show Degrassi, Drake worked out a deal with the after hours staff in order to make music. “I would leave work… I’d go home all the way back to the city, get my stuff and come all the way back to the studio. I would record then 4 or 5am then I would sneak back into Degrassi and I would sleep in my dressing room. Eventually they found out what I was doing and they got really upset.”
He f-cked up with Dr Dre
Dr Dre heard some of his tracks and rated his writing ability so flew him and 40 (Drake’s long time collaborator) to help write on Detox. He was doing such a good job that Dre gave him a $10,000 cheque advance. Drake celebrated by flying his girlfriend at the time to LA and they got a hotel. This meant Drake got… distracted and missed studio session. Dre took this sh-t seriously and immediately sent him back home. Remembering the situation Drake states “that was a massive life lesson for me”.
Views almost wasn’t a rap album
Drake was struggling to make an album that sounded good and fresh. 40 was always “bluntly honest” when Driz would play him tracks and said a lot of the verses for Views sounded “aggressive or defensive”. It got to the point where he almost took all the rap verses out of Views and was just going to make it “an album full of melodies that make me happy”. But he quickly realised “I know why I’m here, I know who my core fan base is” and a Drake album with no rapping just wouldn’t work.
He didn’t really face racism growing up
Drake admits that he was very lucky to have grown up in Canada, which seems really does live up to it’s friendly stereotype. He describes his fellow Canadians as “beautiful people from beautiful places” where “you don’t ever develop hate”. However when he went to America people would challenge him because of his nationality. They thought he couldn’t understand the black American struggle because he wasn’t American.
The Grammys wanted him to cancel his UK shows.
Grammy organisers actually asked Drake to cancel two of his UK shows because they wanted him to attend the ceremony, despite the fact that he was going to lose most of the categories he was nominated in. “I would have left 30,000 people hanging to lose”.
In general he doesn’t rate the Grammys at all. He doesn’t like that he’s constantly only nominated within rap categories when he admits he is more of a pop artist. “I won two awards [at the Grammys] but I don’t want them. It feels weird. I feel alienated and pacified by giving me rap awards.”
Meek Mill created the “narrative” that he doesn’t write his own music.
When Meek first started sending for Drake he never felt pressured to defend himself “anybody that was in those rooms or that worked on those projects knows that I am one of the best writers. Period. That is what I do, that is what I’m known for. I have written all my biggest songs.”
Eventually he did shoot back at the rumours with the classic diss track “Back to Back” simply because “it was a big deal because it wasn’t the truth.”
He genuinely, really f-cking loves UK music
“I think the best rappers in the world are in London” he states simply, name checking Skepta, Giggs, Dave, AJ Tracey and more. He knows people think he’s using the culture but he genuinely loves it. “I want to be remembered in the London scene,” he says.
For Drake, London reminds him of Toronto. Back home h would spend hours watching Youtube videos and learning about the UK rap and grime scene. “Skepta was the first guy I linked with.” He says, “our teams clicked. Our visions clicked.”
He discovered Dave through Youtube
Drake likes to keep up to date with music that’s coming out of Toronto so he can stay in tune with his hometown. After finishing a Toronto Youtube mix one day he started listening to a London mix. He was in bed falling asleep with his headphones in when “Wanna Know” started playing and he instantly popped up. He rang 40 and said, “I really want the beat, I want to remix it.” He says it was a bonus that Dave turned out to be a “good yute”.
Shola Ama introduced him to Giggs’ music
Drake and Shola Ama have been friends for almost a decade. He even drops that her “Imagine (Remix)” tune is one of his favourite songs. “I was out for dinner with Shola one night and she was like ‘do you know about Giggs?’” then she played him “Talkin The Hardest” and the rest is history.
More Life is a playlist rather than an album
He doesn’t want people to think that More Life is going to be an album because he doesn’t want the Views wave to die yet. However after dropping such a successful album he was still feeling inspired to create. “I asked myself what would happen if I did OVO radio but every song was a new Drake song.” He also says the way the playlist will be released will cement it’s non-album status but wouldn’t say what that release will entail.
Him and Giggs have four tunes together already
After being introduced to Giggs’ music by Shola Ama Drake was firmly a fan of Hollow Man. “Me and Giggs just became friends. You have to build that vibe with him.”
He loves the remix of Suspect’s “Wonder What” featuring Giggs and would play that and “Whipping Excursion” a lot at his OVO parties in LA. He’d send videos of the parties to Giggs and the two built up a bond. They began sending each other tracks and the other would reply with a verse. “Me and Giggs have three or four songs.” He tells Semtex. “One on his project, two on More Life and then another one.”
“Giggs is a real G, a pure soul.”