Drake was born Aubrey Drake Graham in 1986 in Toronto, in the Canadian province of Ontario. He is the son of a Canadian and a U.S. American and holds both Canadian and United States citizenship. His father, African American musician Dennis Graham, is from Memphis in the U.S. state of Tennessee and is a follower of the Catholic Church. He has worked as a drummer for musician Jerry Lee Lewis, among others. He is the brother of Larry Graham, who became known as the bassist of the funk band Sly & the Family Stone. Drake’s mother Sandi Graham (née Sher) is a Jewish Canadian who worked as an educator and florist.
His parents divorced when Drake was five years old. After his father moved back to Memphis in the United States, Drake grew up in humble circumstances with his mother in Toronto. There he lived in the immigrant West End neighborhood before moving with his mother in 2000 to the affluent Forest Hill neighborhood in the Old Toronto district, which is characterized by a large Jewish population. There, Graham attended Forest Hill Collegiate Institute before transferring to Vaughan Road Academy. However, he dropped out of high school due to his acting career.
Drake was raised Jewish by his mother and celebrated his bar mitzvah at the age of thirteen. In retrospect, he described his school years as unhappy, as he was often the victim of bullying due to his faith and skin color, and was not accepted by his wealthy classmates due to his low social status.
At the age of 15, Graham was discovered by the father of a high school friend who was an acting agent. Graham first gained notoriety as an actor in the youth series Degrassi: The Next Generation, in which he portrayed the character Jimmy Brooks from 2001. In 2006 he then also appeared as a rapper, when he released a series of mixtapes. His first success as a musician was the single Replacement Girl, which he recorded with Trey Songz and was featured by BET television as Joint of the Day in its show 106 & Park. He nevertheless remained – despite appearances on numerous mixtapes and remixes and the support of Kanye West, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne – without a record deal. Then, in 2009, he released the single Best I Ever Had, which became a hit in the United States. As a result, a bidding war developed between several major labels, which eventually resulted in a cooperation agreement between Cash Money Records and Young Money Entertainment. Universal Records serves as the distribution label. Drake is known for his unique blend of hip-hop and R&B.
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