Champagne Papi, aka Drake, wasn’t always the sex symbol he is today. In 2001, Aubrey Graham began his acting career as Jimmy Brooks in the ultra popular Canadian TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation. Jimmy was known as Spinner’s bestie and Ashley’s–as well as Hazel’s, and Ellie’s–boyfriend, until his life took a sharp turn. Twelve-year-old me was not prepared to see the fictional love of my life gunned down. Jimmy would never walk again because of Spinner’s lies, and I would never forgive Spinner for it. As a character, Jimmy had always been into music, but it was still a surprise when Aubrey released his first single, “Replacement Girl,” featuring Trey Songz–under the moniker Drake, his middle name. Degrassi fans didn’t take him seriously at first, but he made sure his next project was something to remember.
When Jimmy left Degrassi it was my first experience with heartache. How could he leave? Where was he going? Would we ever see Aubrey again? In his absence, the show went downhill, but he would soon rise. In 2009, Aubrey took Drake released his third mixtape, So Far Gone. He took his time off from Degrassi to improve his talent immensely, especially his singing. While he still asked friends Trey Songz and Omarion to help him out, he departed from the heavy hip-hop of Comeback Season and Room For Improvement and evolved into the singing rapper we all know and love today. His sound was reminiscent of Kanye West’s 808’s and Heartbreak, and brought sampling classics to a new level. Drake continued to blur the lines between hip-hop and r&b, and made the anthems that celebrated even our darkest feelings. While So Far Gone was eventually released for sale, his official debut album, Thank Me Later, was met with much success–selling almost half a million copies in it’s first week.
By the time Drake released his sophomore effort Take Care, he had already been hailed a superstar. His personal life had been made public, and now all eyes were on him and Rihanna. Drake mentioned their brief encounter in the second verse of his song “Fireworks” featuring Alicia Keys. He raps about how their date helped propel him into the spotlight, “What happened between us that night? It always seems to trouble me. Now all of a sudden, these gossip blogs want to cover me and you, making it seem that it happened that way because of me. But I was curious and I’ll never forget it, baby, what an experience.” I was jealous then, and I’m jealous now. Although it seems like their romance is taking a break, there’s still a shimmer of hope that they’ll settle down and get married….one day.
For the past four years, Drake has been evolving musically and physically, incorporating his famous beard and new muscles into his brand. He’s bigger, badder, and hotter than little Jimmy, and at 30 years old he has so many super fine years ahead of him. He’s hinted at becoming a strictly r&b artist, so here’s to more sweaty, shirtless mirror selfies.