Drake ‘Fears Wayne’s Creativity,’ But Isn’t Scared of Vulnerability
These days you can't escape Drake. About the only thing to slow down the omnipresent chick-friendly rhymer is a torn ACL. But that won't stop him from appearing on the opening date of the America's Most Wanted tour with Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, and Soulja Boy, which kicks off today in Scranton, Pa.
The BoomBox caught up with the 'So Far Gone' artist to discuss his upcoming trek, dealing with the opposite sex in the face of stardom, and why he wants Kanye West to be a featured producer on his upcoming studio debut album' Thank Me Later.'
The BoomBox: You are still relatively young in your career, yet you have done some pretty high profile performances. What has your preparation been like for the upcoming America's Most Wanted Music Festival tour with Lil Wayne?
Drake: It's been crazy. But I've gone out with Wayne before. It's always an experience.
The BoomBox: Was there ever a moment when it became surreal for you in terms of the mammoth size of the crowds during shows?
Drake: There were some defining crowd moments in my career. That first night of the I Am Music tour was just overwhelming. There were 13,000 people in the audience and I had never done anything like that in my life. The other moment was the Hot 97 show in New York. I didn't know what was going on. I just knew Jeezy had hit me up and was like, 'Man, I want you to come out.' I saw Jeezy backstage and then I saw Jay-Z. And Jay was like, 'I come out right after you.'
It was so funny because we were supposed to have this moment where it was me, Jeezy and Jay-Z onstage. But I got so nervous. I had a moment where I thought 'Am I really large enough to be standing on stage with Jeezy and Jay?' [Laughs] I just walked off stage after my performance. I'm like, "Man, I'm wearing Air Yeezy's and like a pink sweater and s--- and these n----s got on all black and are about to perform the Death of Auto-tune ('D.O.A.'). That was a pretty funny moment.
The BoomBox: There were well over 50,000 people there. That had to be an overwhelming image, right?
Drake: To be honest, there were so many flashes and such a vast amount of people that I can honestly say I blacked out. I just remember my heart never beating that hard. I felt like it was going to stop.
The Boombox: Much of the buzz around your mixtape 'So Far Gone' has been the mix of hip-hop with R&B. When did you decide to take that chance musically?
Drake: About 10 shows into the tour Wayne asked me to start singing 'Mrs. Officer' because Bobby Valentino wasn't coming on tour. So that was nerve-wracking also because he'd heard me sing and I really didn't think I was going to be an R&B singer singing onstage. But it was one of those moments like, 'Wow, this man just asked you to step up. Are you going to say no?' I started singing and it brought a whole new element into my career. That's why I was able to do 'So Far Gone' ... why I was able to do R&B songs and rap songs without people looking at me like a cornball. I found a way to really balance it out. When I rap, I rap with a melodic tone. But this album will primarily be a hip-hop album.
The BoomBox: There was a lot of talk about the unprecedented recording deal you signed with Young Money/Universal Republic. Beyond the $2 million advance, as a new artist you retain your publishing rights and masters to your songs and only cede 25 percent of your music sales revenues to the label. What kind of say did you have in the negotiation of that deal?
Drake: I didn't really care about the advance money. That's what's cool to the public because they think, 'Oh, s---, he has $2 million dollars.' But your advance could be a million dollars and you may never make money after that because you got f---ed so badly on the back end. But my biggest thing is having creative control. I don't want anyone telling me, "Oh, you can't put this single out or you can't shoot the video until this day. That's why I signed with my managers Hip Hop Since 1978. I didn't really care what they give me up front. My biggest thing was owning my music. I just wanted all my masters and I wanted Canada, as a country, as my own territory. Instead of signing to a label what I'm trying to do is sign to a phone company.
The BoomBox: What are you trying to do? Destroy the record companies?
Drake: [Laughs] I'm just trying to do something that has never really been done. I want to distribute my album in Canada over cell phones so everybody on the network will get a text the day my album comes out. In everybody belongs to one phone company. Really, what I would love to do is sell a million records out here because that has never been done. Platinum in is 100, 000 records. So if I could sell a million records, which I think it's possible, to go 10 times platinum in would be crazy.
The BoomBox: I did an interview with Lil Wayne a few months ago and he said that the only person he was worried about in the rap game this year has been you. And he said that's precisely why he made sure that you were on his team. What do you make of a statement like that?
Drake: It's an honor for Wayne to say something like that. Someone would really have to come to the studio to see me and Wayne together and how we work to understand what he's really talking about. It's the same sort of thing. I fear Wayne's creativity. It's endless. It's a scary beast. He never takes one day off. When we get into the studio it is very competitive, but in a good way. You can't just use a line you wrote Tuesday. Every line has to be thought out.
The BoomBox: A running theme throughout 'So Far Gone' has been the dramatic way the music business has affected your relationship with women. Has that changed even more since your fame?
Drake: It's definitely made it harder for me. At this point in my life I don't know what I want from a woman. I think a lot of the women from my past that cared about me kind of feel like they can't deal with me anymore even if I don't make them feel that way. They feel that I'm out of reach. I did a song last night which I'm looking to place on my album called 'Darling Baby.' I know a lot of dudes when they rap they say things that everybody expects them to say. I'm honest with myself. There's a certain confidence that comes with vulnerability. In the song me and Wayne go back and forth about being in love. About us finding a woman who we are confident in. I wonder if women ever know that we think about these things?
The BoomBox: Before we get into your solo project, could you talk about how the Young Money album has been going?
Drake: I just got back from Atlanta last night. I did three songs for the Young Money album and I'm very excited about it. The next single is stupid. And then there's another song I did with Wayne and Nicki Minaj that's incredible. We don't have a name for it yet, but it's dope.
The BoomBox: How far along are you in recording your new album 'Thank Me Later'?
Drake: I'm about two songs in. I really haven't even started. The tour is really throwing me off, so I probably won't start really working on it until September. It will probably come out Valentines' Day next year.
The BoomBox: Are you sticking with the same musical concepts as 'So Far Gone'?
Drake: I love 'So Far Gone.' I'm very proud of it as a project. So I don't want to stray away from that method of creativity, but I've sat with 'So Far Gone.' I pulled the parts that worked because there were parts that didn't work. People may have appreciated it, but it didn't go as recognized as other things. I also started listening to other artists' albums and plucking pieces that I like from there to put together a masterpiece. I want my album to make you feel the same way Kanye's, Jay-Z's and Wayne's albums make you feel. This will not be a 10 to 13-song album. I plan to put 17 songs on there. I have a lot of genres of music to cover. As far as production, 40 (who engineered and produced many of the tracks on 'So Far Gone') will be on it. Obviously Boy Wonder, who did 'Best I Ever Had' and 'Uptown.' I'm also looking forward to Kanye taking charge of the project.
The Boombox: That's pretty ambitious, huh?
Drake: Well, I want him to do what Kanye does best. Go to Hawaii and stay cooped up in that studio. I want him to have a strong presence on the record. I've done some work with Pharrell and me and Swizz Beatz are doing some work. I'm also looking forward to Timbaland. I hear that he has really reinvented himself. So really, it's just what works.