Started from the bottom, now he’s here: Yes, Drake once made $100 opening for Ice Cube at the House of Blues a year and a half ago in Tampa, but now that he’s signed to Columbia, the company that put him on the map, he’s now playing for a new label. It’s not an easy transition, but the 21-year-old rapper is here to stay and is ready to prove himself once again.
The second year behind the microphone after his first break came in 2014, he went on the Def Jam label with his self-titled debut—an over-the-top production album that mixed hip-hop with elements of trap and neo soul. It also marked the start of his long association with Jay Z and Kanye West, who both helped Drake open his first label. Today, he’s signed to Columbia Records, and his new album Views Is Rage 2, which is due August 18, will be released on the label with a premiere party at Madison Square Garden on June 25.
It’s not a transition that Drake had to make: He was in a position to have his choice of labels, but Columbia was the one who signed him and it’s because of his hard work that they’re now on top.
“I’ve been with Columbia for a long time,” he says. “I made a lot of mistakes at the label—I didn’t spend enough time. I didn’t do what my fans wanted. I didn’t do what I knew I could do. So I just made a lot of mistakes and I had a lot of ups and downs, so I had a lot of times getting to know Jay and Kanye and how they operate and how I operate and how they like to work and how they want to work. It was all about teaming with them as much as I could. It was like my one shot to not only make it to the label, but to actually get on the same team as the head honchos.”
“It was a lot of work for me to get to that moment, but to where I could do it right was to know how to team up with them. To understand what they want and what to go out and do