A definitive timeline of Drake's rise to stardom, from Jimmy on Degrassi to record-breaking rapper
On October 24, 1986, Aubrey Drake Graham was born in Toronto, Canada (or “The Six,” as Drizzy would later label it), and our lives were forever changed. Who would’ve thought that brooding Jimmy Brooks from Degrassi: The Next Generation would grow up to be one of the most successful rappers of all time? To be honest, probably not many people. But he did.
Drake has garnered over 100 awards, including three Grammys, since his debut album Thank Me Later dropped in 2010. Since then, he’s romanced a slew of famous women—most notably Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez—launched a record label and radio program, became the Global Ambassador to the Toronto Raptors, took part in some rap rivalries, fathered a child, started a TV/film production company, and amassed a fortune of over $100 million. Whew.
With such a long list of accomplishments in less than a decade, we can forgive Drake for dubbing himself “October’s Very Own,” because if he doesn’t own the world just yet, he for sure owns the month of his birth.
Below, a timeline of Drake’s evolution—he started from the bottom, now he’s here.
Drake, or Aubrey as he was known then, landed a starring role on Degrassi: The Next Generation as Jimmy Brooks. He was on the show for eight years as the popular jock/bully who ended up getting shot and confined to a wheelchair. It was a pretty deep character arc for the young actor.
Drake and Rihanna’s first date hit Page Six. This was only the beginning for these two crazy lovebirds who would be off-and-on until 2017. Now? According to Ri-Ri, they aren’t friends. 🙁 It’s also during this time when his hit single”Best I Ever Had” and EP So Far Gone hit the airwaves, catapulting him to stardom.
Dropping his first name, “Drake” released his first full album, Thank Me Later, and instantly became a star. Jimmy Brooks, who? All four of the album’s singles landed in Billboard’s top 100, and the album appeared on many critics’ top-10 album lists of the year, including Rolling Stone‘s.
Drake churned out another two number-one albums, Take Care (2011) and Nothing Was The Same (2013), as well as a mixtape, The Gift Without a Curse (2014). In 2013, he became the Global Ambassador to his favorite sports team, the Toronto Raptors. He also continued to spark rumors with Rihanna about their “are they, or aren’t they?” romance.
Pulling a Beyoncé, Drake surprised everyone and dropped a mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and of course it was a smash. He also put out an album with Future, What a Time to Be Alive. Later that year, Drake was rumored to be dating tennis star Serena Williams. After she lost the U.S. Open, the internet decided to #BlameDrake, because why not? Also in 2015, Drake officially launched and registered his lifestyle brand, OVO (“October’s Very Own”). It later spawned a record label and a radio station, as well as a clothing line and an annual music fest in Toronto.
“Hotline Bling,” 2015
Drake’s ubiquitous smash hit “Hotline Bling” needed a mention all its own on this list. The song, which dropped in July 2015, was everywhere that year and the next, mostly thanks to a viral video that showed Drizzy doing his best dad dance moves. Everyone from math teachers to former U.S. President Barack Obama followed in his shuffling footsteps. It was a moment.
Drake dropped his album Views, complete with a 23-minute companion short film and some pretty deep lyrics. The album cover featured an illustration of the rapper on top of Toronto’s C.N. Tower. He started from the bottom, and now he’s…on top.
Drake released More Life and racked up more awards for it, including 13 Billboard awards, breaking the record for the most wins in a single show. He later confessed that he wanted a portrait of Celine Dion’s face inked on his ribcage, in the ultimate symbol of Canadian fandom. In November, he outlined his plan to move into TV and film production to the Hollywood Reporter, and said he’s shifting his focus to new projects with Netflix and Apple and wants to “take six months or a year to myself and do some great films.”
His 2018 album, Scorpion, was another hit for the rapper. The disc not only confirmed that he has a son (!!) but also his single “In My Feelings” inspired a dance challenge that took the internet by storm. Even Will Smith got into it. In August, Drake posted to Instagram that he’d love to become a Raptors co-owner, which, let’s be honest, will probably happen. And the year isn’t over yet!
Happy birthday, Drake!