The Year in Drake
Drake may claim to have "Started From the Bottom," but the Toronto rapper reached new heights in 2013. Over the last 12 months, the millennial MC won a Grammy, released a chart-topping album, signed a business deal with Nike, sorta feuded with Kendrick Lamar, filmed his own version of Miami Vice, forced Future to kiss the ring, and appeared in Anchorman 2. But, really, how much time are we going to spend on the intro? Revisit the Year in Drake. KYLE MCGOVERN
1. The Year in Drake
2. February: "Started From the Bottom" and Grammy win
Drake low-key trolls the Super Bowl by putting out the first single from his upcoming album just hours before the Baltimore Ravens took on the San Francisco 49ers. Actually, he trolled everybody with ears with this one, suggesting with a straight face that the child star rapper "started at the bottom." It works in part because of that twinkling beat and those low key crazy drums, and, as usual, Drake's own ability to package smart with sincerity. One week later, on the night of the Grammys (Take Care would win Best Rap Album), a witty video featuring Drake and friends partying in Toronto appeared. Drake's year begins auspiciously. BRANDON SODERBERG
3. February 11: "Marvin's Room" lawsuit is settled
Just one day after Drake collects his Grammy for Best Rap Album, news breaks that the rapper has settled his lawsuit with Ericka Lee, a.k.a. the girl Drizzy drunk-dials on Take Care slow-burner "Marvin's Room." Lee claimed in her suit that Drake promised her a songwriting credit and a portion of the song's profits, but October's Very Own over-sharer insisted that Lee consented to receive no compensation for her voice-work on the track. The case was reportedly dismissed on February 2, after the two reached an agreement. K.M.
4. February 22: Drake guests in Kendrick Lamar's "Poetic Justice" video
Months before Kendrick Lamar's "Control" verse and speculation as to whether or not K-Dot and Drake have beef, the young MCs co-starred together in the music video for "Poetic Justice," a Janet Jackson-sampling standout from Kendrick's Essential good kid, m.A.A.d city. Despite the clip's cinematic pedigree, Aubrey Graham doesn't get much screen time to show off his child actor chops (that Degrassi diploma won't come in handy until August's "Hold On, We're Going Home" visual). For now, Drake just has to take a brief respite from romancing, recline in his land of easy living, and drop a guest verse into a smartphone. K.M.
5. February 25: Karmin remixes "Started From the Bottom"
The worst song of the year came early in 2013 when Karmin — who've gotten way too much mileage out of being white and wacky and covering rap songs — took on Drake's "Started From the Bottom." But wait, Karmin's Amy Heidemann adds her own verse, going after her own haters and suggesting that she's been ripped off by other fast-rapping females. Ugh. Whether or not it's any more petulant than Drake's original is up for debate, but it sure as hell sucks way more. B.S.
6. March 6: "5AM In Toronto"
After claiming ownership of his origin story with "Started From the Bottom," Drake drops a sequel to his Thank Me Later-era track "9AM in Dallas." Dubbed "5AM in Toronto," the Boi-1da and Vinylz-produced one-off marries sparkling keyboard loops and muscular percussion, but doesn't steal any shine from Drake's evaluation of radio rap, summed up thusly: "Every song sound like Drake featuring Drake." K.M.
7. March 21: Amanda Bynes asks Drake to "murder her vagina"
Amanda Bynes makes her appreciation of Drake known with the following tweet: "I want @drake to murder my vagina." No big deal, just one child actor making an alarming proposition to another in front of the whole Internet. Drizzy shows Bynes the courtesy he later deprives Courtney from Hooter's on Peachtree by staying quiet on the offer. Eventually, in August, he tells XXL, "I don't even know who is doing that or what that's about. If that is her, I guess it's a little weird and disturbing. It's obviously a behavioral pattern that is way bigger than me. Whoever is behind it, whether it's her or somebody else, they know people are paying attention, so they keep it going." Later in the year, Bynes enters rehab in Malibu, to receive treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. She completes her inpatient program in December. K.M.
8. April 16: "Girls Love Beyoncé"
Arriving alongside DJ Khaled's Drake-assisted "No New Friends" is this coy, James Fauntleroy-enriched slow jam "Girls Love Beyoncé." Fauntleroy does a version of the hook from Destiny's Child's "Say My Name" and live, Drake has been known to sing the song himself. At the least, it redirected his almost unhealthy obsession with the late Aaliyah towards some other early 'aughts R&B divas. B.S.
9. June 9: "No New Friends" video
Keeping up the trend of delivering Ayn Rand-like rap anthems ("Started From The Bottom" and, later in the year, "All Me") the Drake-fueled DJ Khaled track "No New Friends" becomes another me-me-me anthem. The video, though, is less self-absorbed and finds Drake fawning over his rap heroes, fully deferential to Cash Money's Birdman and Lil Wayne, in a VHS-style music video that pays homage to epic Michael Bay clips of the '90s and the cassette copies of those videos you'd scoop up and watch over and over again. B.S.
10. June 22: Drake remixes Migos' "Versace"
Drake, a tastemaker who has vaulted a number of rappers into the mainstream or by cosigning them (see: The Weeknd and A$AP Rocky) appends a verse to Atlanta trio Migos' "Versace," thus moving the transcendent, ultra-repetitive street hit towards rap radio ubiquity. On the same day, he released the Sampha-soaked track "The Motion," the playful "Jodeci Freestyle," and "Over Here," which introduced his latest R&B experimenter, PARTYNEXTDOOR. B.S.
11. August 6: "Hold On, We're Going Home" single
Drake ends his stream of crowd-tested cuts with the second official single from Nothing Was the Same. Assisted by Canadian duo Majid Jordan, "Hold On, We're Going Home" emanates synthy R&B smoothness, delivering a neon-lit come-on that Drake calls his (and producer Noah "40" Shebib's) attempt at a Quincy Jones/Michael Jackson classic. "It's not a rap record," he tells MTV News. "In approaching this album I was like, 'Man, it would be great if we had a record that was played at weddings in 10 years or that people that are away from their families in the army could listen to.' Something that just [has] timeless writing, timeless melody." K.M.
12. August 14: Kendrick Lamar's "Control" call out
A Big Sean bonus track off Hall Of Fame, thrown out to the Internet for free, turned into the year's main rap event thanks to an epic Kendrick Lamar verse that challenged every other MC out there, including Drake, to step their game up if they want to be on King Kendrick's level. It invigorated rappers, who began crafting (pointless) responses. Drake didn't respond on record (at least, at first), telling Billboard, "I know good and well that Kendrick’s not murdering me, at all, in any platform." On Nothing Was The Same's "The Language," though, Drake raps a few lines that seem aimed at Kendrick:
"I don't know why they been lying but your shit is not that inspiring / Bank account statements just look like I'm ready for early retirement / Fuck any nigga that's talkin' that shit just to get a reaction / Fuck going platinum, I looked at my wrist and it's already platinum / I am the kid with the motor mouth I am the one that you should worry about / I don't know who you're referring to, who is this nigga you heard about? / Someone just talking that bullshit, man someone just gave you the run-around / Niggas downplaying the money but that's what you do when the money down"
To which Kendrick responded, in similarly subliminal fashion, in a BET Awards Cypher freestyle, boasting, "And nothing's been the same since they dropped 'Control' / And tucked a sensitive rapper back in his pajama clothes." That Kendrick felt obligated to respond perhaps shows that Drake actually won this one. B.S.
13. September 10: The Weeknd's Kiss Land drops
R&B lothario/mysterioso the Weeknd got on in part because of an early Drake cosign and the intertwining of Drake's OVO brand and the Weeknd's XO cult. Over time, there was speculation of a rift between the two, particularly after some choice lines on Drake's "5AM in Toronto" that sounded like they were directed at the former. Still, the Weeknd appeared at Drake's OVO Festival in August and Drake appears on "Live For," off Kiss Land, the R&Ber's proper major label debut. Unsurprisingly, the Weeknd cribs a few moves from Drake on the album, bemoaning fame and success with Drizzy-esque resignation: "I chose the life...I made the trade," he croons on "Adaptation." B.S.
14. September 24: Nothing Was the Same is released
The follow-up to 2011's Take Care finally drops on September 24, one week later than its original release date. Drake's third full-length enters the Billboard charts at No. 1, moving 658,000 units in its first week, earning it the second-strongest sales week of the year at that point, behind Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience. Another notable achievement: the LP's Billboard debut also marks the best sales week in the Toronto talent's entire career. "Hold On, We're Going Home," you say? Hardly — Drake has arrived. K.M.
15. September 24: "Hold On, We're Going Home" video
The same day Nothing Was the Same sees its official release, Drake drops the music video for "Hold On, We're Going Home." Directed by Bill Pope, the short film counters the song's soft heart with shoot 'em up violence reminiscent of Michael Mann's Miami Vice. The seven-minute visual packs in appearances by A$AP Rocky and Chicago rapper Fredo Santana, and casts Scarface/Breaking Bad alum Steven Bauer as the bad guy who's kidnapped Drake's scantily clad love interest. Suddenly, "Hold On, We're Going Home" becomes less of a cocksman mantra and more of an action movie wink at the camera. K.M.
16. SEPTEMBER: Courtney from Hooters discovered
On "From Time," off Nothing Was the Same, Drake raps these lines about an ex, going as far as to mention her by name and where she works:
"The one that I needed was Courtney from Hooters on Peachtree / I've always been feeling like she was the piece to complete me / Now she's engaged to be married, what's the rush on commitment? / I know we were going through some shit, name a couple that isn’t / Remember our talk in the parking lot at the Ritz? / Girl, I felt like we had it all planned out, I guess I fucked up the vision/ Learning the true consequences of my selfish decisions / When you find out how I’m living, I just hope I’m forgiven / It seem like you don’t want this love anymore / I’m acting out in the open, it’s hard for you to ignore / But girl, what qualities was I looking for before? / Who you settling for? Who's better for you than the boy, huh?"
Because it's the Internet, it didn't take long for "Courtney from Hooters" to be located. (Her government name is Courtney Janell and she works at the Hooters restaurant on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia.) Her Twitter was located, images from her Instagram were passed around, and she became a minor talking point, despite her wishes. Wisely, she deleted her Twitter and Instagram accounts, but did use her small bit of fame to promote herself as a party host and model. Good for her: There are worse ways to respond to a superstar cruelly airing out his dirty laundry with you in public. B.S.
17. September 30: Drake becomes 'global ambassador' for Toronto Raptors
As if he's affronting the very idea of street cred, while also adhering closely to hip-hop's tradition of repping for your city to the fullest, Drake's career is marked by constant and persistent shout-outs to his hometown of Toronto – by way of songs, music videos shot around the city, and by putting homegrown artists like the Weeknd on. Now Drake takes his Toronto shout-outs further, becoming the Global Ambassador for Toronto's slumming basketball team, the Raptors. In a stormy, melodramatic commercial for the team, Drake speaks of how the basketball team changed the city and encourages everyone to take more an interest in the them. B.S.
18. October: Drake vs. Future beef
Right before the launch of Drake and Future's Would You Like a Tour?, the sing-rap superstars entered what might be the most polite and low-stakes rap beef of all-time. In an interview with Billboard, Future celebrated his hit song, "Honest," because of its ability to "show...emotion." He also told the interviewer that Drake's music "doesn't grab [listeners]" and that Drake's songs "don't make you feel the way" his own music makes listeners feel. In response to this semi-slight, Drake removed Future from the tour. Future threatened to sue Drake for the $1.5 million getting the boot would cost him, and then, suddenly, the two worked it out. So when Would You Like a Tour? had its first date in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Future made an appearance in the middle of Drake's set, performing a couple of his hits while Drake shimmied in the background. The beef was publicly squashed right there. B.S.
19. November 11: "Worst Behavior" video
Following the almost immediately iconic video for "Started From the Bottom," the visuals for Nothing Was The Same singles lost focus and became fairly baffling thanks to the seven-minute Grand Theft Auto: Vice City riff for "Hold On, We're Going Home" in particular. Topping that ultraviolent lark, though, is the 10-minute short film for "Worst Behavior." Shot in Memphis, it features Drake's dad, and Dirty South rap legends Project Pat and former Hot Boy Turk as pimps, as well as a goofy comedy skit featuring Juicy J. B.S.
20. December 3: Drake reveals Nike Deal
Drake begins the end of 2013 by announcing that he's inked a partnership deal with Nike's storied Air Jordan brand. "Growing up, I'm sure we all idolized this guy, he goes by the name of Michael Jordan," the 27-year-old MC says to an audience during the Portland stop of his Would You Like a Tour? "Today, I came to Portland and officially became inducted into the Team Jordan family." The christening comes days after Kanye West bailed on his Nike deal to sign a contract with Adidas, allowing Drake to, ahem, fill his shoes. Nike confirms the union on December 4, tweeting, "Welcome the newest member of #TeamJordan: @Drake." Guess that's just who he became, dog. Nothing was the same, dog. K.M.
21. December 18: Anchorman 2 cameo
Since its 2004 release, Anchorman had become something of a favorite amongst rappers, most notably, Clipse and Kanye West's "Kinda Like A Big Deal." So for the sequel, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, a number of rap cameos were facilitated, including Drake, West, and Nicki Minaj. Photos from the set revealed Drake in a giant goofy afro back in May — a self-effacing way for an often tortured and self-serious rapper to end his year. B.S.