A mogul in the making
Whether you believe he “started from the bottom” or not, the former Degrassi star proved this year that he’s not just another global rap superstar—he’s a global brand
When the Toronto Raptors announced that the city will host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, seated on the dais alongside Mayor Rob Ford and a cadre of MLSE executives was Drake. The Toronto-born rapper in the cobalt-blue suit had just been tapped as the Raptor’s new “global ambassador,” in a bid to drum up a new wave of Raptor-mania. “I have to go to Harry Rosen and get some more neutral suits,” joked Drake (a.k.a. Drizzy, or as his mother calls him, Aubrey Drake Graham).
That’s the thing about Drake—everything he does stands out. However you measure it, the 27-year-old cemented his global superstar status in 2013. In February, his 2012 album, Take Care, won the Grammy for best rap album. The supporting tour grossed more than $42 million, numbers usually pulled in by dinosaurs like Aerosmith. In September, his streak continued with the arrival of his critically acclaimed third album, Nothing Was the Same. It was quickly certified platinum, selling more than a million copies in the U.S. alone.
But 2013 was not just a banner year for Drake the artist. It was also a breakout for Drake the budding mogul. OVO Sound, the record label he founded in partnership with Warner Bros., released its first two albums (including Nothing Was the Same) this year. In August, OVO Fest, the annual concert Drake hosts at Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre, drew the biggest names in rap, including Lil Wayne and Sean “Diddy” Combs. And when co-headliner Frank Ocean cancelled due to a vocal-chord injury, Drake managed to call in a last-minute replacement: just a little someone named Kanye West.
Drake, for his part, has made it clear he’s just getting started. He’s already surpassed his initial goal to make $25 million by the time he was 25. In June, he told a GQ interviewer his new target is $250 million by his 30th birthday. Or to be, as Jay Z once rapped, “a business, man” not a “businessman.”
His partnership with the Raptors demonstrates he’s already become what it takes to get there—a brand. And with every guest verse, every endorsement deal, every platinum album, Drake’s brand rubs off on Canada. “I may as well be in charge of the tourism board in Canada,” he told the Globe and Mail in September. Certainly, the image he projects shows the world a different Canada than they’re accustomed to—cosmopolitan instead of rural, basketball instead of hockey, brash and ambitious instead of polite and deferential. Forget about the tourism board; there’s a federal election around the corner. Drake 2015.