by Lissa Monet - lissamonet.com/blog/
Born in Memphis, raised in Toronto, the 50,000+ who downloaded Aubrey “Drake” Graham’s new 2009 mixtape can’t be wrong …
What are you bringing to the table for 2009? I want to make music for people to listen to. But I also want them to believe in someone who is somewhat of an underdog, establishing a lane for myself, and getting to the point where other artists can be compared to me: “Oh, that sounds like a Drake type right there.” I want to get to the point where I’m a name that people use to describe something new.
How did you meet Lil’ Wayne? The connection was a gentleman named Jaz Prince, the son of the founder of Rap-A-Lot Records, J Prince. He just called Wayne on a day when Wayne felt like hearing some music. I was actually getting a haircut at the time, which worked for me, because Wayne called my cellphone and wondered if I could meet him in Houston the next day.
No other Canadian rapper has rocked a room of 20,000 like you did at the Air Canada Centre with Wayne. I was just proud of my city. And, to be completely honest with you, I was nervous. Not about forgetting my lyrics, or tripping, or anything like that. But up until that moment I could never be sure if I had any fans in my own city – 20,000 people is a lot of people to win over, and even if one-quarter don’t like me that’s still intimidating. But it ended up being a great night. Wayne definitely noticed the city was behind me, because I got the same reaction from the Toronto crowd that he would get from the audience in New Orleans.
Which place do you want to call home for the next few years? My heart is in Toronto, and this city definitely inspires me, but I enjoy L.A. and Atlanta. Once the music is out there, and I have a retail album that we can all profit from, I’ll probably get back into acting which means moving to Los Angeles.
Where did you get the idea to call your third mixtape So Far Gone? The title has many meanings. Toronto is struggling for an icon, but I feel the furthest out there of all my peers, where the only people I feel understand me are the ones close to me. I feel like we live with a very genuine, pure, elevated level. But there’s also a distance from others who aren’t in my circle. I feel like they don’t understand what’s going on.
How does it compare to the previous mixtapes? Well, people started hearing my music as soon as I started making it, so I really was growing. Southern Smoke was a very early project that reflected my interests at the time – I was into the Roots, Little Brother, Mos Def and other great hip-hop music. Then I started to understand the value of a hit record, and became more interested in melodies than a track of overwhelming lyrics. Comeback Season started leaning toward songs that were fun. Now I’m confident enough to convey a personal message, reflecting what’s going on in my mind, like a timeline of my personal life.
Which of the forthcoming collaborations stand out most for you? There’s an interlude with Lloyd that solidifies the fact that I’ll be singing more in the future, embracing the fact that people loved tracks like “Brand New” and “Sooner than Later.” Working with Lil’ Wayne is also a very humbling experience – he’s like my mentor. I know it’s the right combination because, no matter how many times we do something over, it always seems to come out the right way.
Who else have you worked with lately? My usual people: Boi-1da has a lot on there, and my engineer 40 really made the sound, painting the picture and creating a story for it. When I was unsure what kind of tape I wanted to make, it was 40 who kept cranking out those instrumentals that basically laid it out for me.
Are you planning to collaborate again with Trey Songz? Yeah, he’s actually on my mixtape, and one of the funniest people I know. We always have a great rapport, so we talk often, and just laugh and joke about life. At this point, he’s more a friend than a business colleague.
Do you think XXL slept on you by not putting you in their “Freshmen 10”? Nah, the guys they selected were great and had a phenomenal year. I don’t consider myself part of any group, because I have a completely different story, and a different approach to this whole thing. Being separate from the pack is actually a positive thing for me.
Are you signed to Cash Money, or Interscope? I’m actually not signed to either. I’m still an unsigned artist, and think I have a couple more bullets in my clip to let out before I really open my eyes and see what the aftermath of all my shots were.
And, speaking of Aftermath, how did your mixtape land on Dre’s desk? On whose desk?
Dre. Who’s that?
Dr. Dre. I didn’t know my mixtape landed on Dre’s desk.
Did you ever hear the mixtape by DJ Ill Will and Rampage called Best of Heartbreak Drake? I had no part in it, even though a lot of people have told me they liked hearing it – it’s my songs, after all, so … enjoy it.
How have the changes in your personal life been reflected in the lyrics? I’ve always been very honest about my emotions, but things haven’t drastically changed, since I have a new emotion to express in every song. “Every Girl” is just having fun and talking shit with a bunch of dudes; “Replacement Girl” is me giving a piece of myself to women that pay attention. I’m speaking to both genders: the guys who want to have fun and feel fly, and the women who want to know what we think.
The track “Get Over It” mentions that you’re Jewish. How did your bar mitzvah go down? Mine wasn’t as extravagant as the other kids. It was just at a restaurant, where I slow danced to “I Want It That Way” with Heidi Gold. That’s a little fact that you may not know about. But now you know.
For a free download of So Far Gone: octobersveryown.net/mixtapes/drake_sofargone.zip
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