Started from the bottom, now he’s here: Yes, Drake once made $100 opening for Ice Cube, but he never played a single song on that album. “I was in the studio with him for a day—not all day but almost—” Drake starts to say, but here, as he talks about it, a bit of the story starts to unravel. He pauses, then continues: “He just said, ‘You’re doing something with your voice, and I don’t wanna hear any of your shit, man,’ and I was like, ‘You know, you don’t have to do that; my shit is just fine. But just know that I’m not about to just sit here and play nothing.’ And he did the other shit with Jay Z but that wasn’t me.” (Drake’s best friend in the ’90s, Earl Sweatshirt, also is featured on “If You’re Reading This,” and he told GQ that the album is “a lot better than I thought it would be.”)
Though the Drake who was a major hit during the ’00s and one of his most recognizable faces for much of the decade may now be a grown man, he was always a child when Drake left behind the sound and the lifestyle that made him popular. He’s grown into a man who knows all the right buttons to push to get the attention he craves, has a real knack for turning it all into a positive (if a little manic) narrative, and his music reflects all that effort. His voice is in your head from day one. And he’s a man with a lot of heart.
So much of Drake’s appeal—and the rawness of his music—comes from that deep, dark, sincere place within him. But it’s also clear that Drake knows how to play up that inner voice, and turn it into a weapon. His early days of rapping were all just the raw rap, the raw attitude, that he was selling to the world in his early albums, just as his sound was a product of his surroundings—his environment, his life. He knows how to get his voice heard, but he