Yup, it’s that time of year again. The annual tide of Drake-centric media has washed over the internet. And with the whole world seemingly engrossed in dissecting his More Life playlist project, we decided to go in a different direction.
You see, the world’s biggest celebrities – everyone from Beyoncé, to Kanye to Santa Claus – can teach us tons about careers. And while there’s plenty of his qualities you definitely shouldn’t imitate in a professional setting (please, for heaven’s sake, be nice to women), the fact is Drake is a superstar. And it takes a lot of cunning, skill and talent to get to that point. That being said, here are some of the invaluable careers lessons we learnt from Drake.
Study your craft
“I used to want to be on Roc-A-Fella then I turned into Jay” – ‘Summer Sixteen’
Drizzy came into the game as a rank outsider. Having acted in the Canadian drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation for 6 years, few – if any – took him seriously when he started rapping.
However, Champagne Papi is a keen student of Hip-Hop and R&B, using that knowledge to hone his craft. Influences on his music have spanned wide and deep into both genres, including everyone from P. Diddy and Jay Z to Sade and J. Lo. Needless to say, no one’s laughing now.
Careers lesson: If you want to get into any industry, it’s imperative that you know your stuff first. When you research a career, it shouldn’t just be about how you do things. You should also question why things are done that way and if they can be done better.
Surround yourself with the right people
“All of my brothers we equal, / I play my part too, like a sequel” – ‘Jorja Interlude’
Drake has always put a big emphasis on friendship, wishing them strength and guidance in their every endeavour.
He’s had the same friends since Day One and he celebrated his success by sending them out on vacations and even building a compound for them to all live in. He even shows undying love for new friends, getting a BBK tattoo in honour of bosom buddy, Skepta.
Careers lesson: Support from the right friends can take you to dizzying heights. The old adage goes ‘Your network determines your net worth‘ and it’s important to expand this with not only people who can help your career, but people who can encourage you when times get tough.
“That OVO and that XO is everything you believe in” – ‘Crew Love’
In 2015, a certain hip-hop peer criticised Drake publicly for using ghostwriters (oh, we’ll get to that!). But Drake has never made any secret of the collaborative way he likes to work.
Take fellow Toronto native The Weekend, who contributed to the sound of Grammy award-winning album Take Care in a big way. More Life was certainly a collaborative effort, with the likes of Giggs, Sampha, Young Thug, PARTYNEXTDOOR and many more pitching in.
Careers lesson: No-one gets to where they are without a bit of help. We all have unique talents so playing well with others is crucial. After all, they can come with an approach to what you’re trying to do that you had never considered previously.
Versatility is everything
“Understand that I’m not doing it the same, man, I’m doing it better” – ‘Paris Morton Music 2’
All that collaboration means that The Boy has run through more different sounds than the main room DJ on your SU club night.
After ruling the hip-hop sound for so many years, Drake’s latest work has encompassed elements of dancehall, trap and even grime. His musical Midas touch, perhaps more than any other factor, has since made him one of the biggest stars in the world.
Careers lesson: Add as many strings to your bow as you can. Having more than one talent is key and instantly makes you indispensable to any company. It also makes your CV look like pure dynamite.
Let your actions speak for you
“I don’t wanna Twitter with the things I know / I sit back just to see how it unfolds” – ‘Wanna Know (Remix)’
Despite the fact that Drake is – to put it delicately – famous as all hell, you’ll notice he doesn’t say much outside of his music and live shows.
The rapper famously detests interviews, granting his first in several years to Zane Lowe just before the release of VIEWS. This means that there’s plenty of conjecture about his work online, as the only way to get a window into the mind of the 6 God is to pay close attention to his lyrics.
Careers lesson: There are plenty of people in the workplace who talk a big game but never get around to doing anything. Don’t be that person. Stay focused, remain humble and carve out your place as the hardest worker in the room.
But market yourself the right way
“The most successful rapper 35 and under” – ‘Weston Road Flows’
Drake is the ultimate anti-hero of his generation. An undeniable talent and yet, a master manipulator. Drake can generate a tweetstorm at the drop of the hat and it’s almost that he is the most memed rapper in the history of the planet Earth.
Despite that, he controls his own narrative. Because it doesn’t matter whether you praise him or you slate him. As long as you’re talking about him.
Careers lesson: The way you brand yourself is paramount to your career success. Find something unique about yourself and make that the world know that whenever they need it, they have to come to you.
Don’t let anyone destroy you
“I pull the knife out my back and cut they throat with it, mama / I’m Game of Thrones with it, mama” – ‘You And The 6’
They smile in his face. Whole time, they wanna take his place. Prime instance? The Meek Mill beef. Brutal, wasn’t it? Drake took down the Philadelphia rapper with a foolproof strategy combining musical prowess and Internet mastery.
The now-infamous double diss track release was executed with military precision, ninja-like accuracy and a coldness worthy of the Great White North itself. Nicki Minaj’s former beau had no idea what hit him.
Careers lesson: Don’t get bogged down with the politics of the office. There will be people that want to destroy you for no good reason. Keep your nose to the grindstone and exact your revenge by outworking them.
Be honest with yourself
“I’m honest, I make mistakes / I’ll be the second to admit it” – ‘Tuscan Leather’
Drake’s emotions are a big part of his brand. While he’s been ruthlessly mocked for this over the years, it’s actually pretty progressive considering where he came from.
The hip-hop community is famously bad at expressing emotion or vulnerability in a productive way. While Drake’s lyrics occasionally strike a nerve, the rapper should be lauded for his openness in a culture where weakness is stigmatised.
Careers lesson: Any careers journey is a long road. You’re inevitably going to make mistakes. The key is not to punish yourself for those mistakes. When you question your abilities and ask yourself ‘What am I doing?’, take a minute to answer yourself right back ‘Oh yeah, that’s right. I’m doing me.‘ And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Take time to take stock and appreciate your achievements. After all, you started from the bottom. Now, you’re here.