There were people who incorporated melody before me,” says Drake, talking backstage at the 02 in south-east London, where 18,000 people have converged to see him play the biggest concert of his career, “but I would deem myself the first person to successfully rap and sing.
He considers the question of his persona and agrees that: “Yes, there are aspects of it that are new in the rap world. But it's not a gimmick. I just sort of exist and people embrace it. I'm one of the few artists who gets to be himself every day. It doesn't take me six hours to get ready and I don't have to wake up in the morning and remember to act like this or talk like this. I just have to be me. That's one of the favourite parts of my life – I've done this purely by being myself.”
Patently false and full of braggadocio, Drake's statement is a slap in the face of the many other successful rapper-singers. Lauryn Hill won like a dump truck full of Grammys for rapping and singing all over “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Wyclef Jean built an enormous career straddling talent as a vocalist and a rapper. Ditto for Andre 3000, Mos Def, Pharrell Williams, and Bone Thugs N Harmony.
It's a bizarre comment. Surely these are all musicians that Drake listened to and respected growing up in the 90s and early 2000s. Given his sound and style, it's hard not to imagine Drizzy listening to “The Love Below” on repeat and trying to mimic what he heard in his own records. But now, at the age of 25, he apparently feels his accomplishments as a rapper-singer are worthy of a higher pedestal. That's extremely debatable. What's not debatable is that respect is a two-way street in the music biz and very few people earn it without showing a little to their elders.
And just because, here's some rapper-singers rapping and singing long before Drake: