Hold On We’re Going Home – Drake
Famed hip-hop artist Drake was born to a mixed-race couple in Canada in 1986, and raised Jewish. He came to fame playing wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks in seven seasons of the popular teen soap Degrassi: The Next Generation. In 2006, Drake began circulating mixtapes of his raps, and signed a record deal in 2009. His hit songs include “Every Girl,” “Best I Ever Had,” “Money to Blow” and “Take Care.”
Drake, the world’s only black Jewish-Canadian rap star, was born Aubrey Drake Graham on October 24, 1986, in Toronto, Canada. Drake grew up with music in his blood. His father, Dennis Graham, was a drummer for legendary rock star Jerry Lee Lewis, and Drake says that his mother, Sandi Graham, also hails from a “very musical” family. Drake comes from an eclectic and unique racial and religious background. His father is an African-American Catholic and his mother is a white Canadian Jew. Speaking about his personal identity, Drake says, “At the end of the day, I consider myself a black man because I’m more immersed in black culture than any other. Being Jewish is kind of a cool twist. It makes me unique.”
Drake’s parents divorced when he was 5 years old, and he was raised by his mother in Forest Hill, an affluent and predominantly Jewish Toronto neighborhood. He had a Bar Mitzvah at age 13 and observed the Jewish High Holy Days with his mother. “My mom has always made Hanukkah fun,” Drake recalls. “When I was younger, she gave cool gifts and she’d make latkes.” Despite his Jewish upbringing, Drake says he felt isolated at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, his virtually all-white high school. Drake remembers, “Nobody understood what it was like to be black and Jewish.” However, he also adds, “being different from everyone else just made me a lot stronger.”
It was one of Drake’s classmates at Forest Hill who gave him his start in the entertainment industry. “There was a kid in my class whose father was an agent,” Drake would later explain, adding, “His dad would say, ‘If there’s anyone in the class that makes you laugh, have them audition for me.’ After the audition he became my agent.”
Shortly afterward, in 2001, Drake landed a role on the Canadian teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation. The show follows the dramatic lives of a group of teenagers at Degrassi High School, and Drake played the part of Jimmy Brooks, sometimes dubbed “Wheelchair Jimmy,” a basketball star who becomes permanently wheelchair bound when he is shot by a classmate.
Drake starred on Degrassi for seven years (2001-09), earning a 2002 Young Artist Award for best ensemble in a TV series, among other honors. The show quickly developed a devoted cult following—”There are very few subtle Degrassi fans,” Drake has said—propelling Drake to celebrity status in Canada, even while he remained relatively anonymous in the United States.
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