an interview with drake from 2012: "I don't even know if I'll still be making rap music"
To celebrate Drake's 32nd birthday, we dug out an archive interview in which he discusses returning to acting, falling in love and the one that got away.
Photography Alasdair McLellan
Flanked by international charting artists, his boys Trey Songz, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, and signed to multi-billion record label Cash Money Records, Drake is a platinum-selling artist who is the definition of slick. Recounting explicit stories about his fast life, loves and all the women, what sets this modern icon apart from other rap artists is his romantically inclined nature.
Thinking hard on who he is and understanding the way the world works and how he fits into it, Drake’s mother instilled a deep sense of integrity in her son, repeating the sentiment, “50 percent of resolution to a problem is recognising the problem. The other 50 percent is solving it’’ over and over until it struck.
Today the Canadian romantic believes he understands his issues and speaks candidly about them, on record. Drake embarked on a short-lived but successful acting career at the age of fourteen, playing the role of Jimmy Brooks in cult Canadian teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation. Then turning his attention to focus fully upon his self produced mixtapes, just two years later young Aubrey traded in television for the booth and began releasing raw tracks, independently. Scouted and mentored by muse Lil Wayne, Drake was then signed to American major label Cash Money and became a millionaire.
Revered for his dynamic lyrics, Drake’s music makes him vulnerable, despite the fact that he is untouchable. In 2010, Drake won GQ’s Man of the Year award, was nominated for a MOBO and appeared on Saturday Night Live, and today he is tight with Ri Ri and Nicki Minaj. Drake is currently writing his third album, collaborating with British talents Florence Welch and Jamie xx, but not David Guetta. Selling out the UK leg of his Club Paradise tour in March, Drake cited the moment he stepped out on stage for his first performance to address his London crowds as the most important of his career; he tells i-D why.
How did it feel to walk out onto the stage at the O2 for your Club Paradise tour and see the arena so hyped up? It was incredible. I came up from underneath the stage and it looked like I was looking at the sky and all the lights flashing were stars. It was so clear, as clear as day. I saw all these lights and thought; ‘Wow this is it, this is my time’.
What’s your proudest achievement to date? Well, I have a couple of accomplishments. The thing that I’m the most proud of is that I was able to earn money at a very important time in my life and give my mother more years on her life, because she needed a very expensive surgery on her spine. I don’t know if we would have been able to get the same doctor and the same treatment had I not worked hard enough to make that money. So, that is what I’m most proud of, that my mother is here and she’s healthier than ever and taking vacations and smiling.
Your music is very romantic, what relationship has had the most impact on your life? I talk about a woman in a song on my album called Look What You’ve Done. Her name is Nebby and that was probably my happiest time ever in a relationship. I’ve had other interactions with women but that was the happiest time I’ve ever had because I felt like she was someone who I was in love with but she was also my friend. We laughed together and we spent a lot of great times together. We loved each other’s families and I still love her very much, and her sister and her mother, and everybody.
Can you be friends with her after that? In time, not right now. We’re not talking right now but in time I’m sure. I mean, I can’t stop loving her. So yeah, in good time.
How do you know when you’re in love? For me, it’s a time thing. It’s like it doesn’t go away. I am one of those people where I become uninterested very quickly because my whole life is about chasing what’s next, so, we’re sitting here talking about Take Care and how successful it is, but I couldn’t care less because I have another album to make and I don’t want to relish in my own success. I think about the next thing. Unfortunately, that theory is so relevant in my life that it bleeds into my love life. So, I can get a woman that I wanted and for some reason I’ll find something wrong, and start thinking about the next step. When you’re in love you don’t think about the next step because you feel comfortable where you’re at.
Is music or love more important? Right now, music comes before anything. I think that’s why I am single because I think every woman that’s ever been in my life knows that.
What will happen when you do fall in love, will that mean the end of rap music for you? I think that when I find that person and when it’s established that we’re going to enter a serious relationship, I don’t even know if I will still be making rap music. I don’t know how long I necessarily want to make rap music for. There are artists that are 35 and upwards who still make rap and it still works for them. I don’t know if I’ll be that guy. A lot of my music is about being young and figuring it all out, so I don’t know if I can still make my brand of music when I’m up there. Maybe I’ll be acting, or whatever it is.
Can you see yourself going back to acting? 100 percent. That’s what my plan is, to make as much music as I can until a story from Drake doesn’t impact you in the way that it used to. Then, I guess I’ll find my way somewhere else.
Why did you decide to pursue music over the acting? With acting you’re dependent on so much other stuff that you don’t control and I don’t like that. With music, I go to the studio, I record the song, if it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. That’s how music is and I like that formula way better, than depending on other people. Acting seems like it’s way more based upon luck.
How involved are you with your music videos, in terms of the direction and the narratives? With this album, starting with Marvin’s Room and then going to Headlines, I had full control. I did it with my friends. We shot it all on 35mm film. Then, Take Care, and Hell Yeah Fucking Right, which we just shot the other day, I shot with Director X and we essentially directed that video together. I will never let anyone else take my control from me, from now on, I’m just going to do my own thing and write my own treatments.
Will there be a collaboration with Florence Welch coming out?
Yeah, I hope so. We’ve been wanting to work together for so long, I know she’s busy right now promoting her new album but I’d love to do it.