Drake is definitely on top of the world right now. The 22-year-old rapper from Toronto just signed a reported $4 million deal with Lil Wayne‘s Young Money Records with distribution by Universal Republic, his single “Best I Ever Had” still sits comfortably in the top five of the Billboard Hot 100, and he’ll spend the summer touring with Wayne and Young Jeezy on their blockbuster America’s Most Wanted Music Festival tour.
It seems like everything is coming up roses for Drizzy, but that wasn’t always the case. Speaking with ABC News, he revealed he suffered some struggles in his childhood. “I was actually hurt by a lot of the things that happened throughout the course of my life,” Drake told ABC’s Darius Brown. “I had to become a man very quickly and be the backbone for a woman who I love with all my heart, my mother.”
Although he was a working actor since the age of 14 as a cast member of the popular Canadian-based teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, he would often travel back and forth between Toronto and Memphis, Tennessee to see his father, who split from his mother at a very young age.
He essentially lived in two different worlds; he lived in a very upper-class part of Toronto, and, when in Memphis, was told he was “the furthest thing from hood.” But Drake says image-conscious rap fans can still relate to him because of his experiences. “I saw my dad get arrested by like a swat team at the border for trying to crossover.” He added, “I’ve seen things that didn’t make me happy. They were character building. That’s why I think people in the hood can still connect with what I’m saying even though I’m not saying ‘yeah I got crack in my pocket’ ’cause that wasn’t my struggle necessarily, [but] I speak from a place that’s just human emotion.”
The interview took a lighter turn when the subject veered toward his love life and those incessant Rihanna rumors; he offered a solid “no” when asked if he’s ever dated the 21-year-old pop star. “I’ve never been dating Rihanna, but she’s a great girl — a great person.”
Watch the interview here for more on what Drake thinks about working with Lil Wayne, the pressure to live up to the hype, and controlling his music career.