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On The Charts: Drake

How the lady-killing Lil Wayne protégé is dominating radio in 2010

Rolling Stone IN Jul 10, 2010

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Among hip-hop star Drake’s many talents ”“ singing, rapping, reducing women to doe-eyed mush ”“ flipping weaknesses into strengths is probably his best. Born Aubrey Graham, a half-Jewish kid from Toronto who got his break as a wheelchair-bound paraplegic in the after-school drama DeGrassi: The Next Generation, Drake is not your typical MC. “A lot of things that could have been strikes against me, I used to my advantage,” Drake, 23, says, sitting in a Manhattan studio a couple of weeks before the June 15 release of his debut, Thank Me Later ”“ a lock to hit Number One. “He can lean toward urban, and he can lean toward pop,” says Jill Strada, programmer for New York hip-hop station Hot 97. “Even Jay-Z has issues getting on pop radio.”

Thank Me Later has already spawned two Top 20 singles (”˜Find Your Love’ and ”˜Over’). A natural charmer, Drake sings his own hooks and, in tracks like ”˜Fancy,’ big-ups the kinds of details most men miss: perfectly done hair and heel-and-handbag combos. “Women like to feel like you’re paying attention,” he says.

Thank Me Later’s guest list is the kind most rookie artists can only dream of: Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z. Those last two are especially important: Wayne, who signed Drake after a bidding war, has been an invaluable mentor, even from his cell on Rikers Island, and Jay-Z has provided much wisdom. But, Drake says, the best advice he’s gotten was from another collaborator: “T.I. told me to never stop smiling. That’s what people like about me.”

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