The Canadian-Jewish Artist Redefining Hip-Hop
In the realm of contemporary music, few artists have left as indelible a mark as Aubrey Drake Graham, better known simply as Drake. Born on October 24, 1986, in Toronto, Canada, Drake has forged a groundbreaking career as a rapper, musical producer, and actor. Yet, what sets him apart is his unique background—a Canadian-Jewish artist who has redefined the hip-hop genre.
Early Life and Heritage
Drake's upbringing in Toronto was marked by the fusion of his diverse familial and cultural roots. His father, Dennis Graham, was a professional drummer from an Afro-American Catholic background, while his mother, Sandi (née Sher), was a Canadian Jewish educator.
Drake's parents divorced when he was just five years old, leaving his mother to raise him in Toronto. During his formative years, Drake attended a Jewish day school and even celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. Later, he pursued his high school education at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute in Toronto.
Drake's unique heritage makes him one of the few prominent Ashkenazi Jewish rappers in the world. He has consistently acknowledged his Jewish identity, often reflecting on the religious and cultural upbringing fostered by his mother, Sandra.
His deep connection to Judaism was highlighted in his 2012 music video for "HYFR," in which he invited leading industry figures to a synagogue, even participating in a Torah ceremony.
Moreover, he celebrated his second Bar Mitzvah at the age of 31, an event attended by luminaries such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Tobey Maguire, Kelly Rowland, and members of the hip-hop group Migos.
Drake's foray into the world of entertainment began in 2001 when he joined the cast of the MTV series "Degrassi: The Next Generation." In the show, he portrayed Jimmy Brooks, a promising basketball player who becomes physically disabled after being shot by a classmate.
Drake appeared in the series for seven seasons, concluding his role in 2007 when his character graduated high school. He also made a guest appearance in the show's eighth season and starred in the 2008 TV movie "Degrassi Spring Break Movie." Additionally, in 2002, Drake guest-starred in the American sitcom "Soul Food."
In 2014 and 2016, he hosted the American sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live."
Drake's musical journey began in 2006 with the release of his debut mixtape, "Room for Improvement." Subsequently, he released several more mixtapes, gradually making a name for himself in the hip-hop scene. In 2007, he started collaborating with rapper Lil Wayne, which marked a significant turning point in his career.
Drake's collaborative efforts extended to other notable artists in the hip-hop industry, including Birdman, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Eminem, Timbaland, Mary J. Blige, and Rihanna. He contributed to songwriting for Dr. Dre as well.
In 2009, Drake released the mixtape "So Far Gone," which gained widespread acclaim. The single "Best I Ever Had" from this mixtape reached the second position on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 2009. Shortly before its release, Drake signed with Lil Wayne's record label, Young Money Entertainment.
In the same year, his third single, "Successful," featuring Trey Songz, was well-received. Drake also collaborated on tracks with other prominent artists, such as Mary J. Blige ("The One"), Jamie Foxx ("Digital Girl," featuring The-Dream and Kanye West), Timbaland ("Say Something"), and Fabolous (official remix of "Throw It in the Bag").
In September 2009, Drake released his third single, "Forever," featuring rappers Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem. The single peaked at the eighth position on the Billboard Hot 100. Notably, it was featured in the documentary film about basketball star LeBron James, "More Than A Game," and the reissued version of Eminem's album "Relapse: Refill." Drummer Travis Barker also released a rock remix of the song, featuring Drake, Eminem, and Lil Wayne at the 2010 Grammy Awards.
During this time, Drake was featured in fellow labelmate Young Money's single "Bedrock," which reached the second position on the Billboard Hot 100.
In March 2010, Drake released his debut album's lead single, "Over," which reached the fifteenth position on the Billboard Hot 100. The success of the single led to several freestyle rap versions, featuring artists like Eminem, Sean Kingston, Trey Songz, and Fat Joe.
Simultaneously, Drake was featured on various other artists' tracks, including Birdman ("Money To Blow"), DJ Khaled ("Fed Up"), and Young Money ("Bedrock"), which achieved notable chart success.
In October 2010, he released "What's My Name?" in collaboration with Rihanna. The song became a massive hit, topping various music charts, including the Billboard Hot 100. Drake received two Grammy nominations that year, one for the single and another for his solo performance in "Best I Ever Had." He also won two Juno Awards and was nominated for two more.
In 2011, Drake released his second studio album, "Take Care," which was a commercial and critical success. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 631,000 copies in its first week.
It garnered praise from music critics and earned Drake the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 2013. In the same year, he released his third studio album, "Nothing Was the Same," which also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.
"Nothing Was the Same" spawned several hit singles, including "Started from the Bottom" and "Hold On, We're Going Home," both of which reached the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100.
Later Career and Evolution
In 2015, Drake surprised fans with the release of the mixtape "If You're Reading This It's Too Late." The project received critical acclaim and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling over 495,000 copies in its first week.
One of the standout tracks from this mixtape was "Hotline Bling," which garnered significant attention and went viral due to its unique dance style featured in the music video.
In January 2016, Drake collaborated with Rihanna on the hit single "Work," which also topped the Billboard Hot 100. This marked the second time he achieved a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, following "What's My Name?" in 2010.
Drake's fourth studio album, "Views," was released in April 2016 and received positive reviews. It also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 852,000 copies in its first week. The album featured successful singles like "Hotline Bling," "Pop Style," and "One Dance," which all reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
In March 2017, Drake released the mixtape "More Life," which he described as a playlist. The project featured numerous guest artists and received acclaim
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