Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Drake

Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Drake
Photo: Jenn McInnis
It's hard to believe that it's already been 10 years since Drake first stepped onto the Canadian hip-hop landscape following the release of his 2006 mixtape Room for Improvement, but where his career has gone since — well, it's a path few musicians (of any genre) from Toronto have ever taken. The actor-turned-rapper, rapper-turned-ambassador/hometown hero has taken the city of Toronto on a journey nobody expected, propelling the city's hip-hop industry into the brightest light it has yet seen.
 
This month's Timeline feature dives into the nitty-gritty details of Drake's journey — before Drake featured Drake and into the Views of Summer '16. And while you'll have to pick up Exclaim!'s new April Issue to read the whole feature, we've picked some highlights from it to share with you now, below.

Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Drake:
 
1. Drake Dropped Out of High School to Pursue Degrassi: The Next Generation


 
Through a high school friend, 15-year-old Aubrey Graham meets an entertainment agent, who lands him the role as Jimmy Brooks on long-standing Canadian TV series, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Shortly after the show premieres on October 14, 2001, Aubrey drops out of high school. In 2012, Drake also revisits his studies, and finally graduates from high school with a 97% on his final exam and an 88% in the course, and delivers the commencement address at Jarvis Collegiate Institute: "I reached a point in my life where I realized there aren't material things that can give me the excitement that I'm looking for. There's a void in my life that I need to fill and I need to sit and think long and hard what that was. It was the fact that I had left a gaping hole in my story of following through." He dedicates his diploma to his mother.
 
2. Drake Took His Interest in Rapping from His Father's Prison Cellmate
 
After his father is incarcerated, Aubrey takes an interest in rap music when Dennis Graham's cellmate, Poverty, raps for him over the phone. While Dennis Graham is incarcerated, he shares a cell with a 20-something who goes by the name Poverty. One day, Mr. Graham passes the phone to his cellmate, and the two rap fans connect. Although Drake has been writing rhymes, Poverty coaxes the young teen out of his shell. The two will exchange verses over the phone often, until Drake's father is released from jail.
 
3. Drake's the First Canadian to Have an Unsigned Video Air on an American Network
 
Drake releases the video for the Trey Songz-assisted "Replacement Girl" on April 30, 2007, and it becomes a "Joint of the Day" on BET's influential music show 106 & Park — Drake is the first unsigned Canadian rapper to be featured on the American network. Drake will later reference the song on the 2013 single "From Time," from his Nothing Was the Same album, stating, "Then she start telling me how I'll never be as big as Trey Songz / Boy, was she wrong."
 
4. Drake Didn't Name Toronto "The 6"
 
Drake announces the title of his fourth studio album, Views from the 6, putting an end to Toronto's T-dot era and giving the city a global rebrand as "The 6." The term is not Drake's, but was coined by another Toronto rapper, Jimmy Prime: "As I view The 6 from my balcony, I pray to God she'll look out for me," he affectionately raps on his EP In God We Trust. While the term is being used in the nooks and crannies of Toronto's hip-hop community, it's Drake's Instagram post saying, "I Miss the 6!!!" that launches it into ubiquity.
 
5. Drake Caused a Scandal in 2009 by "Freestyling" Off His Blackberry
 
In May, Drake finds himself in the infamous "Blackberry" scandal, where it's alleged that during a freestyle on New York's Hot 97 radio station, his freestyle was actually read off a Blackberry, drawing negative press and fuelling authenticity debates. He'll later explain the moment, stating: It was such a rookie hip-hop moment — and, obviously, the controversy of me pulling out my phone and rapping off my phone because I just wasn't prepared. A lot of people don't know the difference between freestyle or off the top and coming to a radio show knowing you got to go there, so you got verses cued up in your head, whether they be off your upcoming album or verses just that you have laying around. A lot of artists get that preparation time."