secretly plotting his musical career. When Degrassi’s producers forced him to choose between a life onscreen and a life behind a microphone, Drake left the acting world behind forever. He released three mixtapes before he was officially signed to a label. These mixtapes actually showcased Drake’s creative shrewdness and business savvy very early on. For instance, he knew the value of making contacts with other artists. The first mixtape, R oom for I mprovement , also featured the talents of Lupe Fiasco and Trey Songz, two musicians who were more well-known at the time than Drake. This collaboration helped make the first mixtape a hit, and the success of his second mixtape, C omeback S eason , landed his music video for Replacement Girl , featuring Trey Songz, on BET, massively increasing his exposure. In those early years, Drake’s mixtapes also served as a way for him to get noticed by the major movers and shakers in the music business. For instance, James “Jas” Prince, music CEO, recounts that the reason Drake first met Lil Wayne was because Prince played some of Drake’s songs for him, including Replacement Girl . Wayne was so impressed that he invited Drake to hang out with him in Houston and brought Drake with him while he toured. As Prince recalls, there was a single moment when Wayne realized how famous Drake was: He heard “15,000 people” all yelling “Jimmy!”—the name of Drake’s Degrassi character. Lil Wayne knew he had the full package in Drake: A up-and-coming music sensation who

could sing remixes as well as original music, and he was already famous. There was a well-publicized bidding war when the time came to sign Drake, but it was no real surprise that Lil Wayne’s company, Young Money Entertainment, snagged him. This was the beginning of Drake’s journey into international megafame, and the next time he joined Lil Wayne on a tour, they were both the stars of the show! Breakout Success Drake had already achieved a very different kind of success by performing in the popular teenage drama Degrassi: The Next Generation . He starred in the show for seven seasons, playing the character of James Brooks. There was a bit of irony in the role, as the James character was forced to change his focus from basketball success to music, where he eventually achieved fame and recognition. It turned out that Drake was in between careers in real life too, juggling his musical aspirations and his acting duties. In an interview with W (magazine), he described being “kicked off the show” in 2009 when its creators forced him to choose between music and acting. Mixtapes R oom for I mprovement (Released February 14, 2006)

Lil Wayne

Trey Songz at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards






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