Drake is the poster boy for VIBE's year-end Race Issue, his slightly menacing portrait framed by such tag lines as "Are You A Racist?", "Kevin Hart Has White Power", "Taming Rev. Al Sharpton" and "Ku Klux Klan In 2014".
The Toronto emcee also sat down with editor John Kennedy for a discussion about his new album Nothing Was The Same, his relationships with Kanye West, The Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar, his growth as an artist, memes, hate and more. They covered quite a bit of ground.
Peep the cover and photos from the shoot in the gallery above, and read excerpts from the Q&A below:
On Internet memes:
It's flattery. I'm just being human, it’s not like I'm on records crying and making videos in the rain and shit. I always get to this point where it's like "man, how come this guy is allowed to do this? How come this guy is allowed to talk about the streets? All he did was be around it, just like me. He didn't live it, but he's allowed to talk about it. How come this guy is allowed to make girl records - love records - but they're not girl records or love records when he does it?" I just have to step back and be like, because it doesn't matter what those guys do. Whoever that is, it just doesn't matter. They're not important enough to be scrutinized like that. So it's that feeling of accepting that I'm at the top and I don't give them enough to talk about, so they have to make shit. No one ever loves that guy that’s on top.
On speculation that "The Language" is a response to Kendrick Lamar's verse on Big Sean’s "Control":
I don't ever want to get into responses. It's a commitment to go there. "The Language" is just energy. What it was inspired by, I'm sure that, and other things. It's just me talking my shit. I never once felt the need to respond to that record. The sentiment he was putting forth is what he should have. Of course you wanna be the best. Where it became an issue is that I was rolling out an album while that verse was still bubbling, so my album rollout became about this thing. What am I supposed to say? Nah, we'll be buddy-buddy? Mind you, I never once said he's a bad guy, or I don't like him. I think he's a fucking genius in his own right, but I also stood my ground as I should. And with that came another step, which then I have to realize I'm being baited and I'm not gonna fall. Jordan doesn't have to play pickup to prove that he could play ball, no offense.
But I'm not gonna give you the chance to shake me necessarily, 'cause I feel great. There's no real issue. It's tough because the people wanna see us tear each other down - I don’t wanna give them that. There's no point. I have no ill feelings toward that guy. It's just like, it's there for me if I wanna fall for it. I'm just too smart for that. Hopefully it's the last time I gotta talk about this, 'cause every time I open my mouth up about it, they take this piece and take this piece. And he's hungry, so he's going to do what he has to do like the BET cypher. But again, it's not enough for me to go. We haven't seen each other since... but I'm sure we’ll see each other and it'll be cool. And if it's not, then I guess that’s how our story unfolds.
On the "Worst Behavior" line "Muhfuckas never loved us":
In my mind, I'm still fighting to convince you that I’m meant to be here. I just want people to love me like they love 'Pac. I want people to remember I spoke from the heart and told the truth. It’s so crazy because while 'Pac was here, he felt like everybody hated him. And that’s where that shit comes from. As much as I brush shit off, I don't feel like people love Drake necessarily. I'm still human - I see a lot of love, tickets selling, people going crazy. But at the same time, it's tough to just see that. I see the rest of it, too. I know I must be most-hated out here.
On The Weeknd:
When I had met the Weeknd there was no Weeknd, so it was extremely influential on me. I saw it from its inception. I saw the impact that House of Balloons had... I go off the city - once the world has it it's a little too late for me. It was that chapter. That House of Balloons moment this time was PARTYNEXTDOOR. That and Nothing Was The Same is all that our city is listening to. That's who has the juice. With Party, he never wants to go too slow - there's always some energy. He inspired me to stay away from the real R&B ballads. Take Care got scrutiny for being too slow, too this, too that. I said to myself, "I'm always going to have records to drive to." That’s my shit. I'm never going to make some album full of bars with no melody, don’t ever wait for that. I'll give you raps on raps - "5 A.M. In Toronto" and "9 A.M. In Dallas" and "Stay Schemin'" - but when it comes to making a body of work, that shit becomes boring to me.
On Kanye West:
As of late, me and 'Ye have opened up the doors to having communication and a relationship that was closed for a bit - and it needed to be. To push him more. We're just checkin' on each other once in a while. I'm sure it's always gonna be competitive. Oliver El-Khatib and I were talking the other night, like "how crazy it is to hear 'Ye say shit about us?" We're some kids from Toronto. It's crazy. I couldn't have predicted it. I'm still very much honored when I hear something like that because that's still my guy. He's why people accept me. He really was the first one to break down that door that I was allowed to walk through. It was crazy to hear him say anything about my music, let alone that. And there's a lot of good songs out right now for him to say that. It's dope.
We talk a lot. We talk about potential things, working on stuff together. It's just so interesting to go from OVO Fest to now, being the two tours that are on the road in America. We're kinda back on the same - what's he gonna do? 'Cause I know what I'm gonna do. It's like that Bird and Magic documentary of them reflecting on everything years later. Me and him might be able to do one of those one day, a crazy sit-down together in suits and just be old, like "this is how I really felt." He's... the best. What an era to be a part of. I wouldn't want my competition to be anybody else. My competition is nobody else, by the way. It's just me and 'Ye. I still have work to do but that's what it is right now.
I don't know, man. I'm not ready for all that. I just wanna be a good father. I don't wanna not have time to do it. That's far off. It's time to go in now. I just want people to look back one day, like "that guy dictated so much in my life - he was the soundtrack." I listen to my father and uncles talk about old soul that way. I just wanna be remembered as being honest. And I wanna be celebrated in my city. It's showtime. The lights are on. Chubbs - that’s my guy - he says "the light's on you, what you gonna do?” That's my life motto. "The lights are on me, so what am I gonna do?"
On his goals:
That line pertains to where I'm at right now. I've achieved so much. I have new goals every day. I went to go see a house the other day I fell in love with. I can't afford it... that shit's expensive, on some Tyson shit. The ultimate goal, that one never really changes. I wanna raise a family, be a good father.
Read the rest of the interview here.