Drake closes out a successful 2014 with the cover of VIBE’s 2014 Winter Issue, where he discusses various topics with writer John Kennedy. In the cover story, the rap star talks about his Nothing Was The Same album, his relationship with Kanye West, and even, criticism for singing about street topics in his music.
Below are highlights. Read more and see photos at Vibe.com.
On Nothing Was the Same: This album is probably the most aware of self that I’ve ever been. I’m here, I’m gonna own this now. I’m gonna give you guys everything and keep going forward ’til something else happens. Like, I’ve fallen in love. Or make the real Here, My Dear.
On his desire to be loved like Tupac Shakur: In my mind, I’m still fighting to convince you that I’m meant to be here. I just want people to love me like they love ‘Pac. I want people to remember I spoke from the heart and told the truth. It’s so crazy because while ‘Pac was here, he felt like everybody hated him. And that’s where that sh** comes from. As much as I brush sh** off, I don’t feel like people love Drake necessarily. I’m still human — I see a lot of love, tickets selling, people going crazy. But at the same time, it’s tough to just see that. I see the rest of it, too. I know I must be most-hated out here.
On being criticized for rapping about street topics and singing. And the parallel to 50 Cent & Ja Rule: Yeah, I see it in a lot of places. The difference between me and that parallel is that as much as I may make great records for women, nobody could ever box me into a corner. I see myself more as 50 than Ja, not from a street perspective, but from a hitmaking perspective. I have the “21 Questions” and “Started From the Bottom.” I’ve tapped into both markets, whereas when Ja would go the street route, it would be seen as a reach because 50 kept attacking him. So, he’d have to stay in that girl lane. I can really rap, so I would never let that happen. That is an interesting situation to bring up. I don’t want confrontation because it’s stressful, man. As much of a show as it is for people and sometimes what makes it exciting, for us it’s just unnecessary pressure and stress. That sh**’s not fun. It’s not fun to be in a beef with somebody. If you do win the war of words, then what? Then where does it go? The person starts feeling self-conscious, and then we start getting into some whole other sh**. I try and avoid sh** like that for the sake of my career.
On whether “The Language” was a response to Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse: I don’t ever want to get into responses. It’s a commitment to go there. “The Language” is just energy. What it was inspired by, I’m sure that, and other things. It’s just me talking my sh**. I never once felt the need to respond to that record. The sentiment he was putting forth is what he should have. Of course you wanna be the best. Where it became an issue is that I was rolling out an album while that verse was still bubbling, so my album rollout became about this thing. What am I supposed to say? Nah, we’ll be buddy-buddy? Mind you, I never once said he’s a bad guy [or] I don’t like him. I think he’s a f***in’ genius in his own right, but I also stood my ground as I should. And with that came another step, which then I have to realize I’m being baited and I’m not gonna fall.
Jordan doesn’t have to play pick-up to prove that he could play ball, no offense. But I’m not gonna give you the chance to shake me necessarily, ’cause I feel great. There’s no real issue. It’s tough because the people wanna see us tear each other down; I don’t wanna give them that. There’s no point. I have no ill feelings toward that guy. It’s just like, it’s there for me if I wanna fall for it. I’m just too smart for that. Hopefully it’s the last time I gotta talk about this, ’cause every time I open my mouth up about it, they take this piece and take this piece. And he’s hungry, so he’s going to do what he has to do like the BET [cypher]. But again, it’s not enough for me to go. We haven’t seen each other [since the BET cypher], but I’m sure we’ll see each other and it’ll be cool. And if it’s not, then I guess that’s how our story unfolds.
On Kanye West saying he wishes he wrote “Hold On, We’re Going Home”: As of late, me and ‘Ye have opened up the doors to having communication and a relationship that was closed for a bit — and it needed to be. To push him more. We’re just checkin’ on each other once in a while. I’m sure it’s always gonna be competitive. [OVO co-founder] Oliver El-Khatib and I were talking the other night, like, “How crazy it is to hear ‘Ye say sh** about us?” We’re some kids from Toronto. It’s crazy. I couldn’t have predicted it. I’m still very much honored when I hear something like that because that’s still my guy. He’s why people accept me. He really was the first one to break down that door that I was allowed to walk through. It was crazy to hear him say anything about my music, let alone, that. And there’s a lot of good songs out right now for him to say that. It’s dope.