There are interviews here and there that mark significant moments in Drake’s career. The CRWN interview hosted by Elliott Wilson is one. The Zane Lowe interview was another poignant moment, marking the Views era. CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi’s interview of Drake provided an intimate view of both Drake, the artist, and Aubrey, the man. All of Angie Martinez’s interviews of Drake have provided important glimpses into his playful personality.
With all of this being said, though, as amazing as these interviews were, none of them are quite as important as the interview that aired on OvOSoundRadio (Beats1Radio on Apple Music). This interview captured not only a look into Drake’s current mindset, but also touched on crucial topics and events that haters and critics use in an attempt to define his career.
The Grammys, writing for Dr. Dre, Quentin Miller, Meek Mill, Xtentacion, all topics addressed in the interview that aired tonight.
The link to the interview is up on ThaChampagneRoom page, but I’ll also leave it here – it is best that you listen to the interview before reading the rest of this article.
It is quite possible that this interview will go down as being the most important interview of Drake’s career. In the past, he rarely addressed accusations against him in a direct manner. Instead of addressing rumors, gossip, or accusations directly, he made a habit of telling interviewers that the answers are in the music, that he speaks on the things that happen to him and because of him in his lyrics. While he mentioned that again in this interview, he did open up – quite uncharacteristically – regarding topics that have been on the minds of haters, critics, and fans alike for the past year or two.
If you’ve ever taken a gander at @champagnepapi’s comments section, you may have seen commenters refer to him as a “culture vulture.” People have said that he uses dancehall, uses London grime music, and other styles of music so that he can capitalize off of it. In this interview, Drake maintained that his intention when channeling these styles of music isn’t using the music to his own advantage, but moreso showing love and appreciation to artists who he has come to appreciate. The haters who shoot off with these crazy comments are quick to forget that Toronto is a melting pot of different cultures, similar to London. This is a point that he also mentions in the interview.
When speaking on the track “Pop Style,” a song that featured Kanye West, Drake, and Jay-Z, Drake said: “…And then, you know, I’m not really sure of the details between how that conversation was miscommunicated or what they were going through at the time, or, you know, what anybody felt towards me, or whatever it was, I’m not really sure, but the next thing I knew it just became a bit of an issue. I don’t waste too much time, so I just was like, All right cool, I’ll finish it…I can rap just as good as anybody else. I’ll just go finish the song and put forth my own version. ‘Cause nobody can, like, dangle anything over my head in this business. You know? I don’t play that. So…it just needed to be done, and I did it myself. Both versions exist, you know, so…When Kanye comes out to do it at the shows, it goes crazy.”
In regards to Kanye, Drake said, “I’m not really sure what he’s referring to half the time, you know, because in the same breath I went from working on a project with him, to him sort of like, publicly shi**ing on me and DJ Khaled for being on the radio too much. Me, when I hear that, I just distance myself from it. I don’t really even understand the point you’re trying to make, but whatever it is you’re going through, I accept it. I don’t respect it at all, because I feel like me and Khaled are both just like…good people. I’m not sure why we’re the target of the choice you made that night, but again – I accept what you’re going through. The more and more this progresses, the more and more I just feel like keeping to myself, ’cause it’s just so unpredictable. You never know which way people are gonna go.”
DJ Semtex did a great job of balancing this interview, because he went from serious moments like that, to more light-hearted moments of asking Drake why he put a line about why he’s acting light-skinned in “Child’s Play,” back to serious topics such as Drake’s ethnic background.
In regards to his upbringing, Drake said, “I really have been grateful in my life to be born in Canada, and just…the journey that I had growing up was a very accepting journey. I always had friends from all different backgrounds, all different walks of life. We all get along. I never really notice color, religion. We just don’t live like that. There’s really not that much segregation in Canada, and especially in Toronto. It’s like a cultural mosaic. It’s made up of so many beautiful people from beautiful places, and you get to actually learn… you ever develop hate. The first time I really experienced it was when I got famous and went to America, and people would challenge me, like I don’t understand how it[racism] works. Like… “Oh you’re Canadian, you’ll never understand the Black American struggle.” If I ever feel like an outsider, it’s usually because I’m not American, to be honest with you. That’s when I feel like people are against me. I am mixed, I am Jewish. At the end of the day, I’ll tell you, when it comes to everything else, I’m Black. I’m referred to as a Black artist. Last night, at that award show, I’m a Black artist. I’m apparently a rapper, even though ‘Hotline Bling’ is not a rap song. The only category that they can manage to fit me in is a rap category, because…maybe because I’ve rapped in the past, or because I’m Black, I can’t figure out why. Just like I can’t figure out why ‘One Dance’ wasn’t nominated.”
Drake goes on to say, “I love the rap world and I love the rap community, but you’re right, I write pop songs for a reason. I wanna be like Michael Jackson. I wanna be like artists that I looked up to. Those are pop songs. But I never get any credit for that. By the way, I’m speaking to you as a winner from last night. I won two awards last night, but I don’t even want them. Because it just feels weird for some reason. It just doesn’t feel right to me.”
Listening to Drake talk about the Grammys was literally life. He spoke on how it’s great to experience a night like Chance the Rapper did, as he won three awards that night. But he said that for the kids coming up who didn’t get to have a night like Chance’s, that’s fine, too. He expressed that awards shouldn’t define good art, and good work.
On the Quentin Miller/Meek Mill situation: “Meek Mill, at the time, due to some issue with Nicki or whatever it was, decided to create a narrative that I don’t write my own music, because that was what was convenient for him at the time…The reason why I never felt pressured to sit down and defend myself right away or go do an interview is just because anybody that was in those rooms that worked on that project or anybody that has been in any room with me period knows that, first of all, I am one of the best writers period. That is what I do, and what I’m known for. I write for other people. The massive majority of my catalog has been written solely by me, which is a big feat – because music is a collaborative process. With those isolated records, they just wouldn’t be what they were if it wasn’t for me, if it wasn’t for my pen and my contributions to that – not taking away from [Quentin]. We did great work together in a very small space. It really just kind of blossomed into this thing where I became the poster child for ghostwriting, which is a huge conversation now in music. If I was an evil spirit, if I had a different agenda, I could sit here and tell you how this shit really works. I could sit here and tell you ten, twenty people that are worse than me. You know? But I’m not like that. When my peers get a record, I’m happy. It’s great. I doesn’t matter where it comes from, I don’t care. But for me it was a big deal, because it wasn’t the truth…You could interview Meek and you could ask him if he thinks if it was worth it, I bet he’d tell you ‘No.'”
Drake on “Back to Back”: “It hurt and I wanted to hurt. I really did. I can take a lot of things, a lot of criticism, a lot of negativity. People say terrible things about me and that’s fine. That is just unfortunately this very sad generation we live in, where people get off on bullying people on the internet. So I can take all that. But man, you really tried to like… and you know how good I am at writing music. But you really tried to not only spin the entire narrative of my career, but end my life, and like…take food from my family, and try and pretty much end it all. And you didn’t even do it through music, you just talked or Tweeted. It was like…sickening to me. I had to really get revenge on that situation. Like I said, I respect revenge when it’s warranted and that was just warranted. It’s not something that I’m proud of because it took an emotional toll on me. If he had revealed some huge thing, you would have heard peers of mine chime in. I think every single person that I’ve ever worked with or shared studio time with knows how hard I work, man. To try and discredit me for that is crazy. That’s just what I’m known for, it’s what I do.”
Information many people learned from this interview:
- Drake was pitched by the Grammys to cancel two of his concert shows so that he could attend the show(he chose to stay and performed at his Manchester tour shows, and was glad that he did since they were two of the strongest shows on his Boy Meets World Tour so far).
- Dr. Dre issued out Drake’s first check as a music artist/songwriter.
- Drake and Quentin Miller collaborated on the tracks together, and he had a significant amount of input regarding the lyrics, the cadence, which lines to include or exclude. The reference tracks were from the collab sessions between Quentin and Drake.
- Drake feels that artists turning on him is a pattern in his career.
- At the start of the Meek Mill beef, Drake thought that it had been something that was brewing for months and that Meek was prepared – he expected Meek to have a higher level rapper on the diss track with him, but when Drake heard the track, realized that Meek was completely unprepared and acting off of emotions.
- The first racism that Drake says he felt was when he came to America and people felt that he couldn’t understand the Black American struggle – in past interviews, though, Drake also mentioned less-than-pleasant treatment from fellow students.
- Drake feels that this generation gets off on bullying people on the internet.
- Drake doesn’t have a level of respect for Meek because of his actions, and doesn’t see them ever being friends. “I’m not trying to make any songs, or like be boys, or none of that sh**. I’m good, I feel great. I’m happy with my friends, I’m happy with doing my music over here. It doesn’t need to go anywhere from here because we look stupid if we keep it going.”
- Drake has been a Skepta fan for a long time and Oliver helped link the two. Drake felt that Skepta should be bigger than he was.
- Drake loves the complexity and cadences in London rap and grime.
- Drake credits Skepta for giving him an open-mindedness regarding recording tracks such as “One Dance” and “Controlla.”
- Drake is proud to pen music that others are categorizing as pop, and doesn’t view that as an insult.
- Drake feels like sometimes he’s fighting against his own success – he feels that his good intentions are often twisted.
- Drake didn’t even know who Xtentacion was, and had to look him up and listen to his music. While he can understand why people would draw the comparison, he chose his own cadence and rap pattern for the Giggs collab track.
All in all, this interview will most likely go down as his best. Whereas in the past he has answered some of the tough questions in a vague manner. However, in this interview he was candid and spoke a lot more freely than he has in the past. He touched on topics that people, fans and haters alike, needed to hear him touch on. The ghostwriting allegations were a big mark on his career. Those allegations had some of his own fans questioning him. While I understand why an artist wouldn’t want to give attention to false allegations, this particular allegation was something that we needed him to sound off on. For as hard as he has worked to get to where he is, it would have been a shame if he had allowed that mark to blemish an otherwise phenomenal career. Kudos to DJ Semtex for hosting this interview, and kudos to Drake for speaking so openly. I also have to give Drake kudos for caring more about the fans who purchased tickets for his Manchester shows than attending the Grammys. That attests to his true character. Not only was it wise for him to do, but it was also the right thing to do.