The world’s premier rap star Aubrey Drake Graham was born on October 24, 1986, in Toronto, Ontario, the financial epicenter of the country of Canada. Toronto has surpassed London as the most multicultural city on Earth, with over 200 ethnic groups and over 140 languages spoken. Toronto is full of excellent international neighborhoods, including Little Jamaica, Little Italy, Chinatown, Greektown, Little India, and Roncesvalles Village, known as Little Poland.
Drake’s geographic environment proved to be just as diverse as his musical tastes that have wound up woven into his mixtapes and his culturally mixed biracial birth. By learning about where the rapper is from and where he has been, you can understand his eclectic style a lot deeper and know how he made some of his best studio albums and hip-hop songs like Take Care, Thank Me Later, “Hotline Bling,” “Toosie Slide,” Scorpion, “God’s Plan,” “One Dance,” More Life, So Far Gone, Nothing Was the Same, “The Motto (YOLO),” “Best I Ever Had,” and “Room for Improvement.” The best songs have peaked on the Billboard 200 and have millions of streams on Spotify.
Drake’s father is Dennis Graham, an African American man from Memphis, Tennessee, who worked as a drummer, performing alongside soul legend Al Green and country musician Jerry Lee Lewis.
The superstar told Hip Hop Canada in 2006 that he was born to a family with a deep musical background. For instance, his grandmother, who had lived in Memphis, used to take care of Louie Arstrong. In addition, his father was a drummer for musician Jerry Lee Lewis. He claimed that he was not the first in his family, particularly on his mother’s side of the family, to collect accolades.
Drake’s comeback stage name comes from the middle name that his father bestowed him with:
“His reasoning behind it, I am not sure. My dad is a character so it could be anything. I just really loved the name and I embraced it my whole life…Drake is me in my everyday life, Drake is who I am, and Aubrey is more of a separate, sort of proper individual.”
After the divorce, Drake and his mother stayed in Toronto, and his father Dennis went back to Memphis, where he was incarcerated for several years on drug-related charges. Due to limited economic means and legal difficulties, Dennis had to stay in the United States until Drake’s adulthood.
Drake’s mother, Sandra “Sandi” Sher, an Ashkenazi Jewish Canadian who worked as a florist and an English teacher. His parents met in Toronto after Dennis performed at Club Bluenote in Toronto. Dennis lived in Canada for a time and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.
Drake attended a Jewish day school as a child and formally celebrated a Bar Mitzvah in a religious service when he came of age. Unfortunately, Drake’s parents divorced when he was just five years old.
Weston Road to Forest Hill
Drake was raised in two reasonably different Toronto neighborhoods. He lived on Weston Road in the city’s working-class west end up until he reached the sixth grade. He played minor hockey for the Weston Red Wings.
In 2000, the year that he turned 14, the Grammy-award winning artist and his mother moved to Toronto’s more affluent Forest Hill neighborhood.
Drake described the move by stating that his house was not huge, but it was within their means.
“[We had] a half of a house we could live in. The other people had the top half, we had the bottom half. I lived in the basement; my mom lived on the first floor.”
His interest in artistic endeavors started taking shape when he attended Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, showing signs of his acting interests. He then attended Vaughan Road Academy in the city’s less economically equipped Oakwood–Vaughan neighborhood.
Drake has described his time at the school as being “not by any means the easiest school to go to,” facing bullying at school because of his race and religion. He dropped out to go full force with his growing acting career, but later graduated in October 2012.
Identifying as a proud Jewish man, he wanted that to come across in his music video for “HYFR” which was an attempt to re-enact his childhood Bar Mitzvah.
“When I had a Bar Mitzvah back in the day, my mom really didn’t have that much money. We kinda just did it in the basement of an Italian restaurant, which I guess is kinda like a faux pas,” he explained, as reported by Digital Spy. “I told myself that if I ever got rich, I’d throw myself a re-Bar Mitzvah. That’s the concept for the video.”
In 2010, Drake explained to Heeb Magazine that he attended a Jewish day school as a child, where he claims that hardly anyone understood what it was like to be black and Jewish.
Degrassi to Writing Songs
In 2001, while still only 14 years old, Drake got a role on the Canadian teenage TV drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation” Aubrey Graham, as he was still going by back then, was cast as Jimmy Brooks, a well-liked eighth-grader and basketball player who eventually faces the tragedy of becoming a paraplegic.
In 2012, Drake discussed how he got into acting with GQ Magazine. He claimed that during his classes, he would always make jokes, and his fellow students loved him because he was a good talker. Eventually, one of his classmates, whose father was an agent, connected the two. He claims that like his father, he knew how to charm people.
In 2013, GQ reported that Drake made $40,000 a year during his run on the show and Drake discussed with them his entrance into rapping. He stated that he got into the form around 17 or 18 years old. This was the time, he argues, that he really began studying flows and learning how to write lyrics.
At this point in his career, Drake was already working on his own music off-camera in the likes of artists like Kanye West, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Jay-Z. Drake explained this situation to Complex in 2009. He stated that he got into the art of Rap while his father was in jail for a period of two years. At the time, his father shared a jail cell with someone who was lonely, and he would speak to them on the phone.
At the time, Drake was approximately16 or 17. The young man, who was in his early 20s, would rap to him over the phone. Drake claims that after their conversations, he would get enamored by Rap, and then he would begin rapping to him as well.
Just like Drake put high school on pause to graduate into acting, in 2008, Drake quit his work as an actor for the time being in order to pursue music full time before going on to win awards for best rap song and best rap album from several entities including the Billboard Music Awards, Rolling Stone, the Grammy’s, and the MTV Video Music Awards.
He talked about this transition with W Magazine. He claimed that he would spend a full day on the set and then later go to the studio until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning. He might also decide to sleep in his dressing room. And then by 9am, he would get right back in front of the cameras. He argues:
“Eventually, they realized I was juggling two professions and told me I had to choose. I chose this life.”
Being from Toronto gave Drake the advantage of being surrounded by every culture you could think of, a head-start in our ever-growing global-minded society — eventually becoming involved with the NBA team there. The beautiful city of Toronto also afforded Drake access to a variety of international sounds that kept him unique and able to blend his vibe internationally.
He later went on to have a child, Adonis, with Sophie Brussaux which he mentioned in a new song “Emotionless” on his new album “Scorpion.” He has also since created his own record label, October’s Very Own, or OVO Sound.