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So Far Gone, 10 years on: The rise and reign of Drake

By Jimmy Blake
Newsbeat reporter

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionHis cardigan game hasn't developed in the same way as his career since 2009

Drake, Drizzy, Champagne Papi, The Same Yellow Boy That Used To Play Up On Degrassi.

Whatever you call Aubrey Graham, it's hard to deny his dominance in rap.

But a decade ago he was "promoting club nights" with Nicholas Carino, his friend and manager of their label October's Very Own.

He'd also just released his third mixtape, So Far Gone, which has just been put on streaming sites for the first time to mark the occasion.

Safe to say Drake and his friends didn't have to work too hard on flyering after that.

In a pretty lengthy Instagram post, he said So Far Gone allowed him to leave his home city, Toronto.

He said: "I will never forget anybody involved in this journey even if you don't fit in this caption."

The blog years

In the late noughties, up and coming rappers were at the mercy of rap blogs.

Possibly the most influential was a collective known as The New Music Cartel, and nobody was more flavour-of-the-month with them than Drake (for a lot of months).

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionA sit-down interview with Drake has been a rare sighting since 2010

Despite his habit of switching from rapping to singing at will not sitting well with rap purists - Drake's previous releases Comeback Season and Room for Improvement sparked interest from the wider community and his trademark tone and style set him apart from his peers.

The praise that followed So Far Gone paved the way for his debut album Thank Me Later, which featured Timbaland, Nicki Minaj and Kanye West among others.

It went to number one in the US (as have all of his albums since).

His (number) One Dance

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionWhen was the last time I had an album outside the UK top 20? Oh yeah, never.

The phrase "string of worldwide hits" is often overused in press releases for acts who maybe haven't achieved that much success.

But Drake's prolific release rate has helped him dominate the transition from CD, to download, to streaming age.

image copyrightofficial chart company
image captionSongs by or featuring Drake have spent more than seven-and-a-half years in the UK top 40

Since So Far Gone, he's appeared on 42 top-40 singles and released eight top-20 albums in the UK alone.

The biggest single was One Dance, which stayed at number one for 15 consecutive weeks making it the second-longest run at the top of the UK chart (Bryan Adams' (Everything I Do) I Do It for You is the only song to go longer).

Drake has also dominated charts in the US and at one point in July 2018 he had 27 songs in the Billboard Hot 100, breaking his own previous record of 24.

Beef and (b)romances

image copyrightGetty Images

Constant chart success has helped Drake maintain a firm place in the public eye, but so too has his ability to strike up run-ins and love-ins with some of the biggest names in music.

There was the time he tweeted Serena Williams that he couldn't "Wait To Put It On You And Make You Sweat… during our match this weekend" a few weeks after she broke up with Common and of course the love triangle that emerged between him, Chris Brown and Rihanna.

Drake let his feelings spill over when he proclaimed his love for Rihanna when he presented her with the Vanguard award at the 2016 MTV VMAs.

She later said the speech made her feel "uncomfortable".

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThey recently released a track together but it's not always been friendly between Drake and Meek Mill

Then of course there's Meek Mill.

We haven't got space for the whole timeline but it essentially started when Meek tweeted: "Stop comparing Drake to me too... He don't write his own raps!"

That started a whole world of diss tracks and debate around ghost-writing.

It's not all beef though - Boy Better Know (and the UK grime scene in general) have always been on the receiving end of a lot of Drake love.

image copyrightInstagram/ skeptagram

He claimed to sign to BBK in 2016, a year after Skepta posted a picture which appeared to show that the rapper had "BBK" branded on his left shoulder.

That followed him borrowing some of Skepta's lyrics and giving him a mention in the credits for If You're Reading This It's Too Late.

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Oh, his dance moves have almost as much cultural influence as his songs.

The video for Hotline Bling sent the internet into such a meltdown that Saturday Night Live parodied it, comparing it to dad and teacher dancing.

He's 'already won'

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionDrake won 13 Billboard Music Awards in 2017, making him the artist with the most wins in a single year

The success since So far Gone has been rewarded with Drake being one of the most celebrated rappers of all time, including four Grammy wins from 42 nominations.

But he's never been shy to use his platform to say more than "thanks mum".

At this year's Grammys his acceptance speech for best rap song (for God's Plan) was cut short after he claimed artists "don't need" award shows.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionDrake at the 2019 Grammys

He said: "If you have people singing your songs word for word... if there's people who have regular jobs coming out in the rain and the snow, spending hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don't need this.

"You already won."

With that happening less than a week ago, it brings us neatly to So Far Gone's 10-year anniversary and takes Drake from bloggers' next-big-thing to the one everyone's looking up to.

Guess you're winning, Drizzy.

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Related Topics

  • Drake
  • Skepta
  • Music
  • Streaming

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