Tempting as it might be to cut Aubrey Drake Graham some slack for appearing on the greatest teen dramas in this country’s history, there’s an argument to be made that he’s the worst Canadian ever.
What kind of national treasure, for example, not only refuses to stop partying when the folks next door ask him to, but then goes and shows them who’s truly the fucking boss by buying their house? Yes, last year Drake bought his unhappy neighbours’ $2.85-million California home, although news of the transaction is only now surfacing.
Suck on that if you don’t like the noise, Californians. And don’t say that you weren’t warned back in 2015, when Drake released “Where Ya At”. When the man noted “I’ll buy the neighbors’ house if they complain about the noise,” he wasn’t messing around.
Consider this a heads up that, instead of turning the words excuse me into a mantra, Drake is one Canadian who’s more interested in getting even.
Heads up, everyone who attended high school in Toronto with Graham until he dropped out at age 15; the man obviously has scores to settle beyond buying up a couple of houses. Consider “Pound Cake”, where he offered up “My classmates, they went on to be chartered accountants/Or work with their parents, but thinkin’ back on how they treated me/My high school reunion might be worth an appearance/Make everybody have to go through security clearance.”
Not very representative of Canada, where apologizing isn’t just a national pastime, but also a legitimate art form.
Then again, Drake has never done things the Canadian way while becoming one of the world’s most important voices in big-money hip-hop.
Pre-Drake, Canada’s rappers aimed no higher than conquering the Great White North. To be a successful MC was to score a video hit on MuchMusic and then dream of filling the Commodore. Canadian hip-hop acts—Swollen Members, Snow, the Rascalz, Maestro Fresh-Wes, k-os—seemingly never got the Neil Young memo that it’s always better to burn out than to fade away. “Crabbuckit”, “Fuel Injected”, and “Let Your Backbone Slide” still sound essential today. But it’s hard to listen to such golden Cancon moments without thinking about the lost potential.
Drake took a different career path. Right from the point when he began crafting his first mix tape, 2006’s Room for Improvement, the rapper was focused on more than the land of double-doubles and block heaters. So while Toronto’s Boi-1da was onboard at the beginning, so were American giants like Trey Songz and Pharrell. Drake was soon running with the likes of J Dilla and no less than Kanye West and Lil Wayne. Bang. Before you could say “Best I Ever Had” and “Successful”, America was not only in his sights, but conquered in a fashion reminiscent of heavy hitters like Nickelback and Bryan Adams. Except that, unlike Nickelback and Bryan Adams, Drake didn’t make nine of 10 Americans want to vote for Donald Trump solely on the basis that he might also build a wall to keep Canadians out.
What followed was the kind of brash world domination one might expect from someone who has truly bought into the motto YOLO. Sales records have been set. (2010’s Thank Me Later moved more copies in its first week than any other hip-hop record in history.) Charts have been dominated. (Like everything he’s ever done, Drake’s latest, Views, debuted at No. 1 stateside.) And when headliners are needed for mega-events like the Squamish Valley Music Festival, it’s Drake who not only gets the call, but proves capable of captivating audiences in the most massive of settings.
Through all of this, Drake has completely lacked the traits one might expect from a Canadian. Despite playing hockey during his formative years, he’s more likely to be hanging courtside at a Toronto Raptors game, with an affection for basketball so deep that the team appointed him its global ambassador. Evidently not one to politely turn the other cheek, he’s feuded—sometimes physically—with everyone from Chris Brown to Diddy. Meek Mill learned that when you mess with the bull, you really do get the horns.
He’s forced his way onto the radar of America’s number one sweetheart, Taylor Swift. (Hello, “Jumpman”.) And he seems to be short of the humility Canada prizes above all; famously, Drake once proclaimed, “I’m the first person to successfully rap and sing.” Those who’ll argue that someone’s done that better than him in the past haven’t heard Eminem’s “Hailie’s Song”.
For all of this, Drake deserves nothing but your admiration as a Canadian, because he’s stepped forward and suggested that our stereotypes were made to be broken. And if you happen to disagree with him and the way he’s gone about things, no worries. Just don’t complain when he buys your fucking house.
Drake plays Rogers Arena on Saturday and Sunday (September 17 and 18).