Happy Birthday, Drake! Watch the Rapper's Evolution from Degrassi Actor to Champagne Papi
Drake has earned three Grammys and 14 Billboard Music Awards. That's a hell of a lot of accolades for someone who just turned 31 today. And while there's no doubt that the Canadian-born superstar is HERE and a household name, he really did start from the bottom.
Drake's full name is Aubrey Drake Graham, and those of us who grew up watching teen dramas in the 2000s best remember him as Jimmy Brooks from Degrassi: The Next Generation. Since then, Drake ditched acting as his main pursuit for music—though he still hilariously takes on new characters in music videos.
RELATED VIDEO: Drake Is in High Demand to Guest Star on Season 2 of The Handmaid's Tale
In honor of Drake's 31st birthday today, and the fact that he's undoubtedly one of the most celebrated rappers of our day, we've compiled a complete history of his evolution under the spotlight.
Jimmy from Degrassi
Who can forget James "Jimmy" Brooks? Drake portrayed the fictional character across several seasons of Degrassi. Famously, Jimmy was the cute star of the basketball team and won over several hearts. Eventually, he was injured in a school shooting that left his paralyzed from the waist down.
So Far Gone
Remember when "Best I Ever Had?"—the hit single off Drake's first commercial EP, So Far Gone—hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2009? It stripped away his goo boy persona and made him a certified capital-R rapper. Here, Drake was obviously much younger, and it showed in his style. Then 23-year-old wore boyish plaid shirts and pieces from Comme des Garçons Play.
Thank Me Later
When's the exact moment Drake turned sexy AF? That may be tough to pinpoint. However, the 2010 release of his first full-length album, Thank Me Later, brought him into the pop stratosphere. The album featured hits like "Over" and "Find Your Love," two jams we still love today. He was also featured on Rihanna's "What My Name?" At this point, rumors of Drake and Rihanna dating were at an all-time high.
Drake released Take Care in 2011, and with it came five Billboard Top 10 hits, including "Headlines" and "The Motto." But this is when he really started to notice a shift in his stardom. He wore designer brands like Calvin Klein, and mingled with celebrities as major as Beyoncé and Jay-Z. He scored a Grammy for the album, his first for Best Rap Album, in 2012. In 2013, he released Nothing Was the Same, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
If You're Reading This, It's Too Late
InStyle editors have referenced Drake's If You're Reading This, It's Too Late countless times in stories—and for good reason. His lyrics have something for everyone, and by 2015, it was impossible to ignore Drake's relevance in pop culture.
Drake followed up with What a Time to Be Alive (a mixtape with Future) in 2015 and Views in 2016. Views broke major records, and held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 for 13 weeks, the longest its been by a solo male artist since 1992. Most notably, the music video for "Hotline Bling" quickly became famous. In it, he models pieces from his OVO line and shows off his dance moves. It inspired a million memes.
In 2017, Drake released More Life to critical acclaim. It features tropical-like songs like "Passionfruit" and a collaboration with Jennifer Lopez on "Teenage Fever." The album broke streaming records and also fueled rumors of a romance with Lopez. Later, the rapper was featured on Nicki Minaj's "No Frauds" alongside Lil Wayne. At the Billboard Awards, he took over Las Vegas's Bellagio Foundations and performed "Gylachester." 2017 has also found him intertwined in the headlines with model Bella Hadid, though fans always hope he'll reunite with Rihanna.
Drake and Rihanna
These two have a complicated relationship, but let's face it: you want to see them together. Most memorably, Drake presented Rihanna with the MTV VMA Video Vanguard Award in 2016, when rumors were flying that they were dating again. He said, "She's someone who I've been in love with since I was 22 years old," before kissing her on the cheek on stage. Swoon. They've shared salacious, hot moments on camera before (remember Rihanna's "Work" video?). Please get back together?