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Drake has one of the most unexpected and impressive careers in the music industry.
The now-iconic rapper released his first-ever mixtape in 2006 and left "Degrassi" in 2008.
He has won four Grammys, broken several chart records, and released 10 No. 1 projects.
These days, Drake is almost more myth than man.
Most recently, he released his sixth album "Certified Lover Boy" to critical acclaim and massive commercial success.
Here's a complete timeline of Drake's major life events and his peerless rise to global stardom.
Aubrey Drake Graham was born on October 24, 1986.
Drake was raised by biracial parents who divorced when he was 5. His father, Dennis Graham, is a Catholic African American; his mother, Sandra, is white and Ashkenazi Jewish Canadian.
"We have a very deep musical background. My grandmother, who passed away in Memphis, used to babysit Louie Armstrong. And my dad was a drummer for Jerry Lee Lewis," Drake told Hip Hop Canada in 2006. "On my mom's side, it's a white, Jewish, very structured and conservative family."
"There are a lot of accolades on that side of the family too," he added. "I am aware that I am not the first person [in the family to embrace music] but I would like to become the first one to be an icon."
Drake took his stage name from his middle name, which his father gave him.
"His reasoning behind it, I am not sure. My dad is a character so it could be anything. I just really loved the name and I embraced it my whole life," he told Hip Hop Canada. "Drake is me in my everyday life, Drake is who I am and Aubrey is more of a separate, sort of proper individual."
He grew up "very poor," raised by his mother in Toronto, Ontario.
Drake has described his teacher mother as "godlike," but she became bedridden from various health issues: "She smoked cigarettes and took her pain meds, deteriorating every day, essentially dying," Drake recalled to GQ.
"I grew up on Weston Road. That's near the west end of the city. It's not the nicest area in the world. I grew up there," he told Complex in 2011. "I moved to Forest Hill in the sixth grade. So I didn't grow up in Forest Hill."
"My mother happens to be a Jewish woman. She wanted the best for her family. She found us a half of a house we could live in," he continued. "It was not big, it was not luxurious. It was what we could afford."
Drake has also spoken proudly of his Jewish heritage.
"When I had a Bar Mitzvah back in the day, my mom really didn't have that much money. We kinda just did it in the basement of an Italian restaurant, which I guess is kinda like a faux pas," he explained, as reported by Digital Spy. "I told myself that if I ever got rich, I'd throw myself a re-Bar Mitzvah. That's the concept for the video."
Drake even attended a Jewish day school as a child, "where nobody understood what it was like to be black and Jewish," he told Heeb magazine in 2010.
In 2001, at 14 years old, he landed a role on the famous Canadian teenage drama "Degrassi."
Drake — then still going by the name Aubrey Graham — was cast as Jimmy Brooks, a popular eighth grader, basketball star, and eventual paraplegic in the original cast of "Degrassi: The Next Generation."
"I was in class, and I used to always crack jokes in class. I was a good liar and a good talker. And this kid in my class was like, 'Yo, my dad is an agent. You should go talk to him because you're good and you make people laugh,'" Drake explained to GQ in 2012. "I was just good. I was my father's son. I was slick, you know? When it comes to knowing what to say, to charm, I always had it."
GQ reported in 2013 that Drake made $40,000 a year during his run on the show.
He started writing song lyrics as a teenager.
"17, 18, is when I was really getting into that hip hop phase, you know, and really studying the things that I needed to study as far as learning about flows and learning about lyrics," he told GQ.
"I write songs, I do music," he says. "These are full from front to back of just songs, pages and pages of lyrics and ideas — something that I'll probably never use, I mean, 'cause they're old. I just like to keep them around for nostalgia purposes."
Later in the video, he shows off the "studio" in his basement bedroom and even raps a verse, calling himself "the new version of fresh prince."
In one episode of "Degrassi," Drake's character even raps.
During the fourth episode in the seventh season, which originally aired in the US in October 2007, Jimmy freestyles during a school talent show.
At the time, Drake was already working on his own music off-camera.
"How I got into rapping was, my dad was in jail for two years and he shared a cell with this dude who didn't really have anyone to speak to," Drake told Complex in 2009. "So, he used to share his phone time with this dude and at the time I was probably 16 or 17, this dude was like 20 to 22, and he would always rap to me over the phone."
"After awhile I started to get into it and I started to write my own s--- down," he continued. "And after a while, he would call me and we would just rap to each other."
In 2008, Drake quit acting in order to pursue music full time.
Jimmy made his final appearance in the eighth season of "Degrassi."
Drake has said he was "kicked off" the show due to his hectic schedule. The rapper had already released his debut mixtape, "Room for Improvement," in 2006 and his second mixtape, "Comeback Season," in 2007.
"Back then, I'd spend a full day on set and then go to the studio to make music until 4 or 5 a.m. I'd sleep in my dressing room and then be in front of the cameras again by 9 a.m.," he explained to W magazine in 2015. "Eventually, they realized I was juggling two professions and told me I had to choose. I chose this life."
On February 13, 2009, he released his third mixtape to critical acclaim.
Drake released "So Far Gone" under his self-created October's Very Own label.
Drake told Heeb magazine that just before its release, he was "teetering on getting a regular job."
"I was coming to terms with the fact that, okay, people know me from 'Degrassi,' but I might have to work at a restaurant or something just to keep things going," he explained. "The money from that show was very small. And it was dwindling."
The mixtape's most successful track, "Best I Ever Had," was released as its lead single. The song was nominated for two Grammy Awards — Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song — and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Best I Ever Had" kicked off Drake's reign over the charts. He would later become the first-ever artist to log eight straight years on the Hot 100, a run that eventually ended in 2017 with 431 consecutive weeks.
Drake was romantically linked to Rihanna for the first time in May 2009.
Following the "Rude Boy" singer's highly publicized breakup from Chris Brown, Rihanna and Drake were spotted getting close at Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge in New York City. Page Six reported that the two artists were "making out all night" and seemed "really cute together."
"I was a pawn," Drake said in a 2010 interview with The New York Times. "You know what she was doing to me? She was doing exactly what I've done to so many women throughout my life, which is show them quality time, then disappear. I was like, 'Wow, this feels terrible.'"
In an interview with MTV news, he added that Rihanna is an "overwhelming and incredible person."
The two maintained a creatively fruitful relationship over the years, releasing five chart-topping collaborations together.
In June 2009, Lil Wayne signed Drake to his new label, Young Money.
Sources told Billboard at the time that three major labels were dueling for Drake's loyalty in "one of the biggest bidding wars ever."
Eventually, Lil Wayne's label Young Money, distributed through Universal Republic, offered Drake a a $2 million advance and sealed the deal in June 2009. (Entertainment Weekly asked "Is he worth it?" in a now-hilarious headline.)
Drake has often been described as Lil Wayne's protege and the two have maintained a close friendship.
However, for his feature in The Fader from September 2009, Drake indicated that "putting a [Young Money] logo on the disc is more of a nod to his mentor than a structural reality."
"I respect the fact that Wayne put me in this position," he said. "But as an artist, I have to do my own thing at this point. I'm not sure if that's gonna be a struggle in the next couple months, to set myself apart. I don't want it to feel like a disrespectful thing, but I know it's a bridge that I'm going to have to cross as far as becoming my own person."
He teamed up with Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem to produce a song for the LeBron James documentary in August 2009.
"Forever" rapidly became Drake's highest debut on the chart. It showcased Drake's bars as well as his smooth vocals, plus his ability to easily flow between the two styles — and the high-power collaboration put him on plenty of rap fans' radars, before he even released a studio album.
On June 15, 2010, Drake's debut studio album "Thank Me Later" dropped after much anticipation.
Following the success of "Best I Ever Had" and his massive record deal, "Thank Me Later" became one of the most highly anticipated albums of 2010.
"I'm not overwhelmed by what everyone else wants this first album to be — I'm overwhelmed by what I know I need it to be," Drake told Interview magazine before its release. "I just gotta keep going 'cause it's so easy to lose your grasp on the game if you're ever even blessed enough to get ahold of it. So I'm just kind of trying to keep things at the pace they're moving at now."
"Thank Me Later" — which featured contributions from big names like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Timbaland, Nicki Minaj, and his mentor Lil Wayne — debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 447,000 copies in its first week.
It went platinum in Canada in less than one week.
He hosted the first-ever OVO Fest in August 2010.
Drake released his Grammy-winning sophomore album, "Take Care," on November 15, 2011. It has gone quadruple platinum.
Among other triumphs, "Take Care" features the fan-favorite song "Marvin's Room," as well as a Rihanna feature on its titular track. It's a moody, atmospheric record — that was panned by some rap fans as being too emotional.
"People are always like, 'Man, this isn't real rap,' but I don't know man. It's real to me, and a lot of other people apparently. That's all I have to say about that," Drake told Complex in response to the criticism. "To get those emotions through music is life to me. That's life to me. That's what real is to me."
"'Take Care' isn't a hip-hop album or an R&B album so much as an album of eccentric black pop that takes those genres as starting points, asks what they can do but haven't been doing, then attempts those things," the New York Times wrote. "In the future an album like this will be commonplace; today, it's radical."
"Take Care" is now considered by many fans as Drake's best full-length effort to date — and, indeed, it won him his first Grammy for "Best Rap Album" the following year.
On November 29, 2011, Drake released "The Motto" as a single, which is credited with popularizing the acronym "YOLO."
Drake's reputation for writing lyrics tailor-made for Instagram captions can largely be traced back to his "Take Care" singles.
"The Motto," for example — which earned Drake a nod for "Best Rap Song" at the 55th Grammy Awards — is massively responsible for the ubiquity of the phrase "YOLO."
"You only live once: that's the motto, n----, YOLO," Drake raps in the hook.
"The abbreviation has been bouncing around Twitter for a while now, but it cemented its place in cultural conversation when it was written into the Drake song 'The Motto,'" wrote the Washington Post.
In July 2012, Drake returned to acting with a voice role in "Ice Age: Continental Drift."
Drake retroactively earned his high school degree on October 18, 2012.
At 25 years old, Drake announced that he had officially graduated high school, describing it as "one of the greatest feelings in my entire life."
Drake attended two separate high schools in Toronto, but eventually dropped out — thanks in large part to his hectic "Degrassi" schedule and burgeoning career.
Drake released "Hold On, We're Going Home" on August 7, 2013. It was the lead single off his new album and its most successful.
"Hold On, We're Going Home" gave fans their first taste of Drake's new musical direction.
"It's not a rap record ... It's not 'Versace,' it's not 'Started from the Bottom.' In approaching this album I was like, man, it would be great if we had a record that was played at weddings in 10 years," Drake told MTV. "Something that just [has] timeless writing, timeless melody."
"Nothing Was the Same," Drake's third studio album, dropped on September 24, 2013. It was widely praised by critics and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"I've made a lot of music about love being the only thing I'm missing," he told GQ before the album's release. "I think this is the first album I've made saying, 'I'm okay. I'm enjoying it right now.' Maybe this is my time to grind it out, make a run for it and add some memories with my boys."
Drake hosted "Saturday Night Live" for the first time on January 18, 2014, and also served as the musical guest.
In 2015, dubbed the "Year of Drake," he became the first hip-hop artist since 2004 to have two No. 1 projects in the same year.
On February 12, 2015, Drake surprised the world by dropping "If You're Reading This It's Too Late" without any prior rollout or announcement.
The 17-track mixtape quickly went platinum — even before Drake proceeded to drop a collaborative mixtape with Future, "What a Time to Be Alive," in September. The latter was also certified platinum later on.
"After a quiet 2014 for Toronto's resident 6 God, Drake made sure to dole out more than enough material in 2015 to keep the Internet spinning in a perpetual Drizzy daze," Rolling Stone wrote in the article "2015: The Year in Drake."
The "Hotline Bling" music video was released in October of 2015 - and would go on to rack up over one billion views.
"It took what felt like milliseconds for millions of memes, GIFs, and parodies to flood the web, creating a surprisingly unifying trend," Rolling Stone wrote, affirming that the clip helped Drake reach "a new level of cultural saturation."
"One Dance" took over the world on April 5, 2016.
After releasing the lackluster single "Summer Sixteen" in January, Drake pivoted and released two lead singles for his forthcoming album: "Pop Style" and "One Dance."
The dancehall-infused single "One Dance" became Drake's first number-one single as a lead artist in the US (on top of rocketing to the top spot in 10 other countries).
Drake dropped his fourth studio album "Views" later that month. Despite its release as an Apple Music and iTunes exclusive, the album amassed almost 250 million streams in its first week without Spotify listeners. It more than doubled the streaming record set by Beyoncé with "Lemonade," and the album would go on to sit at No. 1 on the chart for ten nonconsecutive weeks.
"One Dance" continued its reign on the Hot 100 far beyond the release of "Views." On October 15, "One Dance" became Spotify's most-streamed song ever with over 882 million streams.
He returned to host "SNL" on May 14, 2016 and spoofed his own rapping.
Once again, the media praised Drake's "natural comedic ability" during his second stint as "SNL" host — with most people in agreement that the spoof of his style and sensitivity was a highlight of the night.
Drake's "More Life" broke the single-day album streams record for every music service in March 2017.
Drake released "More Life," which he described as a "playlist of original music," on March 18, 2017.
Just 24 hours later, it had been streamed 89.9 million times on Apple Music and 61.3 million times on Spotify, setting records for both platforms.
In September 2017, Drake made his debut as a film producer with a documentary called "The Carter Effect."
"The Carter Effect," a documentary about eight-time NBA All-Star Vince Carter, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Drake, along with his longtime manager Adel "Future the Prince" Nur, acted as producers for the film.
THR reported that Apple has even given Drake "the go-ahead to produce whatever he chooses... just as the cash-flush titan is poised to shake up the content space."
"I'm sure I'll stop [making music] one day," Drake told THR. "I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. But I do plan on expanding — to take six months or a year to myself and do some great films. Music's always there."
Drake secretly became a father in October 2017.
TMZ initially broke the story in May 2017 that Drake had fathered a child with former adult film actress Sophie Brussaux. At the time, a rep for Drake denied the claim but noted, "if it is in fact Drake's child, which he does not believe, he would do the right thing by the child."
Drake later confirmed that he had a son on his 2018 album "Scorpion." On the closing track "March 14," he describes the day his paternity was confirmed, his desire to create a stable environment for his child, and how he struggles to see himself as a single father.
"She's not my lover like Billie Jean but the kid is mine / Sandi used to tell me all it takes is one time, and all it took was one time / S---, we only met two times, two times," he rapped, referring to his mom Sandra.
Drake's son was reportedly born on his father's birthday, October 24, and named Adonis Graham.
"God's Plan" broke Taylor Swift's record for the most streams in a single day in the US in January 2018.
"God's Plan," one of two songs on Drake's mini EP "Scary Hours," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Drake's second solo record to do so. The second song, "Diplomatic Immunity," clocked in at No. 7 — making Drake the first artist to twice debut two songs in the top 10 simultaneously.
On April 6, Drake's next single "Nice For What" replaced "God's Plan" at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, making him the first artist to have a new number-one debut replace their former number-one debut.
"God's Plan" went on to win a Grammy Award for best rap song and was certified diamond on September 25, 2019.
Drake traded barbs with Pusha-T in May 2018, culminating in the latter's devastating diss track "The Story of Adidon."
The two rappers have been swapping barbs and diss tracks for many years, but their feud was reignited in the spring when Pusha T's "Infrared" — found on his album "Daytona," which was produced by Kanye West — poked fun at speculation that Drake uses ghostwriters.
Drake quickly responded with "Duppy Freestyle," on which he rapped, "Tell Ye [Kanye] we got an invoice coming to you / Considering that we just sold another 20 for you." (He did, indeed, send an invoice later via social media.)
After a few days of anticipation, Pusha T released "The Story of Adidon," which featured Drake in blackface as the cover art.
In the song, Pusha T revealed that Drake is hiding a son he had with a "porn star" and accused him of being a "deadbeat" dad.
Drake never responded with his own diss track, which led many fans to declare Pusha T the winner. He has since said that he'd had a response ready, in which he admittedly said "terrible things," but ultimately decided not to release it: "I got home, listened back to it, and I was like, 'Man, this is not something I ever want to be remembered for.'"
Drake released his longest-ever album "Scorpion" on June 29, 2018.
With 25 songs divided into a rap-centric A Side and a more R&B-focused B Side, "Scorpion" is nearly 90 minutes long — his longest ever.
To Drake's credit, however, it seems the gambit paid off. Seven of those songs landed in the top 10 on the Hot 100 simultaneously, besting the Beatles' record (five) that had stood since 1964.
"Scorpion" became Drake's eighth album to debut at No. 1 and was streamed over 170 million times in its first 24 hours, breaking (naturally) another Spotify record.
The album is another cultural touchstone: it spawned an internet craze with the "In My Feelings" challenge, addressed the feud with Pusha-T, and ended with an emotional open letter to Drake's son.
He dropped two compilation albums in 2019 and 2020.
On August 2, 2019, Drake released "Care Package," a compilation of cuts and demos made throughout his career that were never officially released. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Nine months later, on May 1, 2020, he released another compilation: "Dark Lane Demo Tapes" was described by Drake as "some leaks and some joints from SoundCloud and some new vibes." It included the single "Toosie Slide," which had previously debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The latter was widely seen as a warm-up to Drake's sixth studio album, "Certified Lover Boy," which he announced at the same time. It was originally slated for release in summer 2020, but weathered several delays.
Drake made history in March 2021 by debuting three songs in the Billboard Hot 100 top three simultaneously.
On March 5, 2021, Drake released a short project titled "Scary Hours 2," billed as a sequel to his 2018 EP.
The new collection included three songs, all of which arrived in the top three of the Billboard Hot 100: "What's Next" debuted at No. 1, "Wants and Needs" (featuring Lil Baby) at No. 2, and "Lemon Pepper Freestyle" (featuring Rick Ross) at No. 3.
Drake joined The Beatles and Ariana Grande as the only artists ever to chart songs at Nos. 1, 2, and 3 simultaneously — and the first artist in history to have all three songs debut in those positions.
He was honored as Billboard's artist of the decade the 2021 BBMAs.
Drake was ranked at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Artists of the 2010s chart, thanks to his decadelong dominance on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart and the Billboard 200 albums tally.
He accepted the honor at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards and dedicated the award to his friends, collaborators, peers, "beautiful family," and 3-year-old son Adonis, who he brought onstage.
"I'm really self-conscious about my music," Drake said onstage. "I rarely celebrate anything, and, just for anyone watching this that's wondering how this happened, that's really the answer. It's being so unsure how you're getting it done, that you just keep going in the hopes of figuring out the formula. Feeling so lucky and blessed that the fear of losing it keeps you up at night."
Drake released "Certified Lover Boy" on September 3, 2021. It instantly became one of the most successful albums of all time.
"Certified Lover Boy" boasted the biggest release week of the year with 613,000 equivalent album units earned.
Although Drake didn't release any singles before the album's release, the seventh track "Way 2 Sexy" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Drake's fifth instant chart-topper. He now ties Ariana Grande for the most No. 1 song debuts in history.
In fact, "Certified Lover Boy" brought unprecedented chart domination, even for a commercial giant like Drake.
Drake is now the first artist in history to occupy nine of the Billboard Hot 100's top 10 spots.
He took the entire top five, becoming the first soloist to do so. He's only the second artist to achieve the feat, after The Beatles in 1964.
"Certified Lover Boy" is the only album to yield so many top 10 hits in its entire lifespan, let alone simultaneously. Four albums were previously tied for the record, having managed to produce seven top 10 hits: Michael Jackson's "Thriller," Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the U.S.A.," Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation 1814," and Drake's own "Scorpion."
Now with 54, Drake easily boasts the most career top 10 hits. Trailing far behind in second place is Madonna with 38.
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