Published Mar 19, 2015Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Drake's career knows that no, Aubrey Graham did not actually start from the bottom. By all accounts he led a perfectly middle-class existence even after landing a role on Degrassi: The Next Generation. Still, a stable upbringing and middling Canadian television notoriety doesn't mean success. And if Drake's Homecoming makes anything clear, it's that Drizzy worked incredibly hard to get where he is today.
Still, even that fact is hard to glean from this lean film that documents Drake's 2009 "homecoming" concert at Toronto's Sound Academy, shortly after the release of So Far Gone. In an attempt to make this more than just a concert movie, the filmmakers include interviews with Houston's Rap-a-Lot Records label boss James "J." Prince and his son Jas, who claim to have discovered the MC and brokered his eventual deal with Cash Money Records, as well as UGK member Bun B, who currently calls Rap-a-Lot home.
In trying to do too many things the filmmakers accomplish none. As a concert film, the movie falls flat; it's visually unspectacular and filled with piss-poor sound (the backing tracks are barely audible) that should have relegated this lost footage to supplemental material on a more robust DVD. Drake had some pretty great early cuts, but those unfamiliar with the MCs rise will find the film bereft of the later hits that made Graham a household name.
But as an origin story, Drake's Homecoming is an epic fail. Drake himself disavowed the film before its release, which explains why no one outside the Rap-a-Lot camp is interviewed. Even more egregious, J. Prince and Jas have very little to add to their own narrative, to the point where the director had to recycle their quotes (listening to J. Prince repeatedly explain what "buzz" is when it comes to an artist is particularly hilarious) and there's even a discussion about Drake's Blackberry (he has one, he uses it a lot). Bun B, who guested on So Far Gone track "Uptown" and appears onstage with Drake at Sound Academy, contributes what he can, but ultimately is too on the outside of proceedings to add much to the story.
Drake's Homecoming is clearly a cash grab, with an argument for Rap-a-Lot's place in Drake's narrative Trojan Horsed into theatres. There's no doubt that Drake did indeed struggle to achieve his fame and that Rap-a-Lot played a part in that fight. But this footage is a historical footnote that, more than anything, underscores how far the MC has come artistically since his landmark mixtape.