Drake: I didn’t have it easy growing up in a wealthy Toronto neighbourhood
A self-described "proud Canadian," 26-year-old Drake recently sat down with radio host Jian Ghomeshi at the Glenn Gould Studio to promote his new album, "Nothing Was the Same." CBC aired the exclusive broadcast for the entire hour of "Q" on Thursday morning, in which Drizzy waxed lyrical and not-so-lyrical about his hometown.
The "Started From the Bottom" rapper took issue with misconceptions about him having an easy life growing up in the wealthy neighborhood of Forest Hill. According to him, his family only lived there because his mother "was willing to live far beyond her means for her family." They rented the basement and first floor of a house.
"I grew up with a mom who was deep in debt because she wanted best for family," Drake told Ghomeshi.
In Forest Hill, he found being "biracial" was more of a concern than it was when he lived in the poorer section of Weston Road. "It was actually girls gave me a harder time than guys," he said.
However, he admitted that later on in his career, being a black Jewish rapper wasn't something he had to overcome in Toronto. "I'm from a place that is true mosaic," Drake said. "To me, we're the most open-minded place you can find yourself."
According to Drizzy, it was his dad who exposed him to music. He used to bring his young son (who said he was around age 6 or 7 at the time) to gigs at various bars around Toronto and get his son to sing "Mustang Sally." Then, when Drake's dad landed in prison, he would reserve time for his son to speak to a fellow inmate -- a rapper -- about music.
Drake's dad was actually from Memphis, and the burgeoning rapper spent much of his childhood growing up in Tennessee. Drizzy told Ghomeshi that he was highly influenced by the Southern rap culture in which he was ensconced by his friend Yo Gotti, a Memphis rapper. "It opened up not only my mind but my ears," he said.
But it was only after he was "laid off" from "Degrassi" that Drake decided to pursue a rap career in earnest.
"We all kind of came in and the names on our dressing rooms were changed," he said of his last time on the show's set. "From there I remember telling my mom I was going to tell my agent I was going to take a break and do this different thing."
The Ontario native said he was challenged to "trim the fat" for his new album, which meant getting more personal than ever. "I'm a human being that's willing to show you I'm a human being," he told Ghomeshi. "That, to me, is supreme confidence -- the fact that I can express the issues I have."
However, despite categorizing his songs as "status updates," Drake said he hates when people associate him with emotiveness. "I'm so sick of people saying that I'm lonely and emotional and associating me with this longing for a woman," he said. "I do make music that makes you feel something, but I'm not that guy."
Paradoxically, Drake also took issue with people not thinking he is emotive enough. "What bothers me most is sometimes I feel like I don't get enough credit 'cause I'm not enough of a loose cannon," he explained. "People just want me to go off more and lose my composure. That's not me. I'm a naturally poised individual, I don't want to come out making mistakes."
But when it comes to being called out, "it only hurts me when it's from Toronto," Drake said, adding, "I just don't want to ever embarrass us [Canadians] by making a mistake."