As the scheduled 7:00 p.m. PST interview was pushed back to 7:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. turned into 8 p.m., we wondered if Drizzy was standing us up. But the hometown boy pulled through, arriving at 8:16 p.m, sounding relaxed—but excited about his new album. Here, the best of Drake on Drake.
1. On recording
Drake likes a quiet and peaceful studio and he doesn’t necessarily want an audience while he’s working through his material. He gauges the characters in his life based on how they behave in the booth. He doesn’t want to worry about people’s presence while he “spills.”
2. On building anticipation in an impatient world
He announced the album (Views from the 6) in 2014, and he says it was a time when “shift in the city,” could be felt, referring to popularity of the phrase “the 6.” Drake doesn’t like to be premature (tee hee) but he had a plan to finish the album and work in side projects (like mixtapes). He was super picky with the material—and still ended up with 19 tracks (plus “Hotline Bling” as a bonus track).
He says that he and co-producer Noah “40” Shebib began recording in September 2015 and they took their time, not spending every night in the studio. Sometimes they just talked. (Ed. Note: Major late night feels.)
3. On the surprise success of If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late
Drizzy sees the album—recorded in a hotel room— as a way to refocus the audience and see his business relationship with Apple as a hub for his music.
He also says that sonically, he put a lot less time into transitions and layering of sound, and that this is a bridge between albums.
4. On T. Swizzle
He loves the Taylor Swift Apple commercial and says she is a “sweetheart” and “angelic.”
5. On influences for Views
Steve Wonder and the Alabama Shakes were major influences—he wanted to go beyond club joints and create a singular album for his generation.
6. On what it was like to have last year’s hit of the summer
“Hotline Bling” was unexpected (and also recorded in a hotel room). He says the song was not meant to be loved right away, and anything that can be understood too quickly is not great music.
7. On the turtleneck shuffle
The choreography came from Tanesha Scott, who encouraged Drake to be his glorious self; a few drinks helped.
8. On Thank Me Later
Zane wonders if Drake went “American” and came back?
Drake says yes, Thank Me Later was about approval and collaborations. He needed his “young money, bright lights big city” moment. Most Canadian artists do.
9. On greatness
“When you start doing well, people will make you feel like an outsider.”
10. On Views
The album is based upon the extreme change of the seasons in the 6. It starts out in the wintertime with “Keep the Family Close.” “Basically that’s what I used to tie it all together, winter to summer and back to winter.”
“Winters in Toronto create a different type of atmosphere, a different sound, a different type of person even.” He doesn’t run away to Miami or L.A. in the winter, he wants to witness the bitter cold and the spring defrost.
11. On leaving it all in the room
“I always do. I always try to give the most accurate time marker of where I’m at,” he says. “It’s a stream of emotions (love, life, business, L.A. vs. Toronto and the two lives that are split there)—they are meant to stand alone.”
12. On his story
“My life is more about me,” he says. This album is about how he is feeling, not about how he feels about other people. He said he’s been working on that clarity.
There is no fiction in the stories, he has to make it about himself.
Drake says it’s a shame when artists become so insular they don’t notice the shift in energy around them. “I just kind of woke up and day and was like yo this is my time.”
He feels ready for anything—and anyone.
13. On collaborations
His collabo with Jay Z didn’t play out how he wanted it to—he has admiration and respect for Jay but they fall on opposite ends of the spectrum in the rap world. It’s mutual respect, but from afar.
Rihanna, of course, is his shining star. “It wouldn’t be a record without Rihanna. We do well together as a team.”
Too Good To You came to fruition after Work: “she got in the studio and just bodied it.”
When she sent it back, every nuance, every cadence was perfect. Another piece to add to the catalogue which he is proud of. They have a genuine energy, and it’s not forced.
14. On Kanye’s pool
The pool joke was not disrespectful—it really was a joke. “For the record, he has a phenomenal pool and house. In case you are wondering.”
Kanye is one his favourite people, period. “I love Ye. He’s a really good guy.”
They were supposed to do a mixtape or album, and it still might happen. (Cue rabid Internet speculation on a secret album.)
15. On owning his place in hip hop—and dealing with the haters
“I don’t think anybody can talk to me,” he says. Jealousy has played a thematic role in his career—Zane asked, “Have you seen success change the framework of what a friend means to you?”
Drake replied: “Not my real friends in my real life. I’m very proud of my real life. Nobody really that I’ve ever really considered a true friend has switched up.”
16. On new friends
“These fly by night people that you come across there all not to be trusted. I don’t trust them. I’m not naïve. This is war. We’re playing for keeps bro. This is not a joke thing to me, you know? I’ve seen people I would never expect, people I’ve had the utmost respect for, do foul ’ish. If they had there way I’d be on a street corner with my family never to be heard from again.”
17. On The Weeknd
“More power to him, I’ve never got the chance to tell him, but I send him all my blessings. I could never want any ill for him based on the work we put in and where we’re both from.”
18. On Nicki, Wayne and the Cash Money Drama
As Zane pointed out, it’s been tough times for that camp in public between Cash Money and Young Money, but Drake hasn’t been swept into any of it. “I’m a person that’s very grateful for all the names you’ve mentioned, specifically Birdman and Wayne. It’s tough. I’ll be honest with you, it’s been tough to watch. I have a mutual respect for both guys.”
Because of the drama (and, presumable, Meek Mill’s beef with Drake), his relationship with one-time friend and collaborator Nicki Minaj is strained: “I don’t really talk to Nicki.” But he did say he had a lot of love and respect for her. “I understand what love is, I understand her personal situation….Unfortunately we haven’t spoke.”
He hopes a resolution is near: “Birdman and Lil Wayne, that’s business man.”
19. On family matters
He has to reassure his mama because she has him on Google Alert. Sandi does not like to hear things through Twitter-vine:
“‘I thought you and the Game were friends, he says he’s beefing with you because he’s beefing a new pool.’”
20. On the best advice his mom has given him
She believes in the 72-hour rule: by the third day, everyone forgets about the stupid thing you did. Drake has learned to sit with his anger and frustration.
21. On the best advice his dad has given him
“Don’t mix Virgina Black, vodka and water together.”(This is very sage advice, TBH.)
22. On his relationship with his father
Drake has redeemed his relationship with his father, and come to terms with having the “cool dad.” Pops even got a shout-out for his fashion sense and Instagram posts.
“He’s a legend man. Sometimes I wonder who the superstar is.”
23. On building a literal home in Toronto
Like a nice Canadian, he says he won’t be mad when kids circle the block.
24. On returning to his acting roots
There sounds like a surprise cameo in his future: “I’ve got something nice coming up in May.” (Why do we have visions of Drake showing up in Shondaland for sweeps month? Drake and Olivia Pope? Dare we dream?)
Acting was Drake’s first serious artistic endeavour: “I’d love to go back to acting, I feel like I spent a lot of life honing that craft…”
But he has gotten some very good advice from Jamie Foxx, who told him not to pick the wrong film—it’s why he has yet to be decisive on it. The first movie is a crucial one.
25. On #goals
“I’ve always tried to make music that transcends gender, nationality,” he says. It’s about celebrating the mosaic that is Toronto, but also about a larger, universal theme of togetherness. “Bring joy to people was pretty much my goal for this album.”