Drake: The Heeb Interview

Up next is Drake’s official debut, Thank Me Later, out June 15. He recorded mostly in Toronto, although he put aside time to work with Kanye in Hawaii. The bulk of production, however, went to his So Far Gone producers and friends. Drake’s first-ever official single, “Over” — on which, true-to-form, he directly addresses the downside to his new-found fame – was released in March.

With all the buildup, though, there’s also been the inevitable backlash: over the past few months Drake’s taken a lot of criticism; there was the purportedly “artistic” video for “Over,” Later’s blurry album cover and Drake’s goofy appearance with Justin Bieber at the Juno Awards. Back in the fall, before anyone has really had a chance to turn on him, I asked him if scrutiny is a source of stress.

Though some say it’s “too artsy,” the “Over” video has still gotten over ten million views in just two months.

“People are so quick to be like, ‘it’s not that hot,'” he answers. “I know, I know, the first day people are gonna hear it and say, oh, that’s not as good as So Far Gone. No matter what.”

“So what do you do then?” All signs point to huge sales numbers; it’s blockbuster or bust. Can he fulfill the ridiculous commercial expectations? Surprisingly, Drake takes the long view.

“The internet has fucked the game up so bad, that if I don’t do it, I’m curious to sit back and watch whoever does. Sometimes, sometimes, I step out of my own shoes and sort of panoramically stare at my situation, the good and the bad. And I honestly can say, the steps we’ve taken, the way that how passionate we are about this…” He trails off. “If Thank Me Later doesn’t do what I think it’s gonna do, I’m very curious to see the next artist, birthed in this internet generation, that will go on to sell millions of records.”

“Nothing is for sure. If I don’t deliver on this album it could be the downfall of my entire career.” Honestly, though — even with the pressures of impending world-wide fame and massive amounts of money (or total failure) on his very young shoulders — he really doesn’t seem too concerned. Though he’d hate the comparison, there’s a bit of Degrassi‘s (pre-wheelchair) Jimmy Brooks’ swagger in him.

Angelo keeps bringing shots over. Graham mock-protests — “This is terrible! This is it!”  — but keeps swigging. At one point, an attractive woman in her late twenties approaches Graham. They had met before, she explains, at a group dinner at Mr. Chow. Graham does his best to pretend like he remembers. She produces a cell phone picture, and he gives up a chirp of recognition. Apparently, she’s an associate of Vivica A. Fox – she gets Graham’s phone number, and tells him they should get dinner “when Vivica is in town.”

It’s the kind of disingenuous little interaction famous people must have all the time, but it sticks in my craw. Earlier, Graham talked about the troubles of recording Thank Me Later. “It’s weird, to fall into routine. I can’t really write a song unless it’s about me. And sometimes I have to allow myself the moments, to live a little bit.” So Far Gone resonates as the product of a young man, in turns cocksure and terrified, elated and confused. No matter what, Thank Me Later will be the product of a 23-year-old multi-millionaire dealing with flunkies and royalty lawyers. Will Drake be able to squeeze honest music out of that, too?

He’s game to try. “[With Gone], we were so deeply immersed in the sound that we had created. We didn’t know if we had created the most beautiful balance in the world, or if we were out of our minds. To get back there mentally, it’s what I’m trying to do right now — that feeling, like you’re standing on a cliff and closing your eyes and saying, “fuck it.'”

Thank Me Later goes on sale June 15. To find out more about Aubrey “Drake” Graham, check out his MySpace, blog and Twitter page.

What do you think?

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About The Author

Amos Barshad

Amos Barshad has written for Spin, SLAM, the Weekly Dig, Real Detroit Weekly, and the Arkansas Times. He's an assistant editor at New York Magazine's entertainment blog, Vulture, which means he's typed the words "Lil Wayne" more times than Lil Wayne's personal stenographer.

28 Responses

  1. Leahli

    Love, love, love this article!!!! I’m so happy that you guys did the obligatory Drake article. And I’m so happy that Drake is a proud Jew and doesn’t shy away from pronouncing that. I really do hope he follows his mom’s desire and marries a nice Jewish girl- and I really hope that girl is me!

  2. Sue

    I’m a Black Jewish Canadian mom with a beautiful son of my own. Drake’s story is a 1-in-a-billion fairytale. If he continues to be proud of who he is, the success will always follow.

  3. wcgcapone

    This seems like pretty much every article on Drake, I wish his Judaism would have been explored for more than just a paragraph.

  4. Wow.

    You’re not black Drake, you may think you are, but you aren’t. Nothing about you is black.

  5. Sue

    Really “Wow”? You really want to debate Drake’s “Blackness”? So, what is a Black person to you? Woolly hair, big rubbery lips and an affectation? Or is it one’s ability to pop n’ lock? Ooh, ooh, maybe how well they keep their pimp-hand strong! It’s 2010 and there are still miscreants like yourself who measure and place people into their little assigned racial boxes in order to make your own miserable existence make sense. There all ranges of “being” in every race and not all of us fit the stereotypes society tosses around. We are free express ourselves and choose any identity we desire. For example, I respect your choice to be an a$$hole of the highest order. But I have to go now – the chitlins and gefilte fish won’t make themselves! Shalom Beotch!

  6. A

    “first-ever black Jewish rap star”- any research to back the claim? What about Y-love? Also Gavriel Butler is pretty famous in israel but I think he’s a Black Hebrew

  7. Courtenay

    Black and Jewish are not mutually exclusive. Never were. They have co-existed since Biblical times. I’m proud to be both, and so, it seems, is Drake. Good for him. Wish him well.

  8. beisdin tsedek

    It would have been good to see the Jewish element of this story expanded. I would have wanted to know who his rav is, and why nivul peh is mutar for him.

  9. Writing in Rochester

    I don’t know what’s sadder, that other JDS kids gave him shit about being black, or that they used the word “schwartze.” Really? That’s a rhetorical statement, but still.

  10. irie


  11. Adrakefan

    I like to listen to drake, he is one of my favorite new male rappers today. I grew up listening to Bow Wow, Jay-Z, Naz, Will Smith, who is actually my favorite rapper of all times, but I think to me that both of them are tied to who is my favorite today. I have both cds, So Far Gone & Thank Me Later, which I gotta know why isnt Trey Songz on that Cd, Drake? I just want to know because I like to listen to the both of you on a track, just wondering. Anyway, just letting you know that I am a fan and I know that your carrer is going much highter!

  12. La Kahena

    drake is not the first black and jewish hip hop star. stop exoticizing us. time to get this jewish diversity thing right, HEEB

  13. Puck

    Time to get this “English” thing right, La Kahena :P
    He’s the first hot black, Jewish hip hop star :P

  14. RGB

    Two paragraphs in, a reference to rims on a Bentley. Chris Rock would definitely say he’s Black enough, Wow.

  15. EJ

    Ummmm, Bizzy Bone was very hot when BOne-Thugs N Harmony was big and I’m sure there are other rappers with Black/Jewish heritage. Many Jews dig chocolate;-)

  16. MoMiJa

    Lol really? I’m a little late but I’m gonna jump on it anyway. This non-fictional story / interview only bring out comments on his race? Ah! I hate that word. But in truth was is race? I’ll tell you… there is no race. We are all different yet the same. I myself am classified as a black female. But really there is nothing that a white girl has that I don’t and visversa… it depends on how dominant your genes are. Up close we are all the same color. Brown. Some more brown than others. We all have the same color blood. Depending on gender we all have the same anotomy and physiology. I’m tired of “race” impacting on how people think. As for the jewish part… I don’t want to touch that. All I know is that they too went through hell in the past and today as well. I have never spent time with a jew and knew they were a jew. But I do respect them. I respect all. I don’t believe anyone is above nor below me. Can we drop it at that. Let’s acknowledge Drake for being a true artist with words. He is a great rapper and singer with an amazing mind and I’m so proud of him for showing the world who he is…. A man with a passion.

  17. Fendot

    Moses married a black woman. Whats the big deal about being black and jewish? Been going on since the ancient world mixing of cultures in the African/Middle eastern region. I suggest you folks read the book RESCUE OF JERUSALEM. Brilliantly tells the tale of how Kush/Egyptians saved Israel from annihilation. Blacks kings saved the jews. Jewish rapper saving black music…


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