Started from the bottom, now he’s here: Yes, Drake once made $100 opening for Ice Cube. But when he arrived and the record he had to play for $100 was “Lust for Life,” he had to play it for $500.
And that was when Ice Cube didn’t have many friends.
“I was just talking to him for two minutes and we agreed to talk about [his] drug problem,” Ice Cube told me a few weeks ago. “We agreed that he would put some pressure on me because it was a business and I didn’t have a drug issue and we can’t get caught up in other people’s problems.”
So he offered Drake a deal: A record deal.
His first album with Cube was in the basement of his house on East 118th Street in Manhattan (there was also a room for his mother’s clothes). “I was pretty much in the basement for the first year,” says Cube. “The whole recording process was a nightmare.”
There was the pressure to meet with radio programmers. “You didn’t have to go on the radio and say, ‘Drake, this is what you have to do,'” says Cube. “You had to present a finished product, and that process was hell. I was so busy in that first year.”
In 2006, it went to his label, RCA/Sony. The album came out in early 2007 on Soundcloud. It became the first rap album to beat 1 million streams on Spotify. Then the video for “Find Your Love” became the first music video to go viral. It featured a bunch of Drake’s friends dancing with him. Drake was on every single platform. His songs got used by the NFL on their pregame shows, his face appeared in commercials for the Gap and the Adidas shoe.
“We was a little weird with him,” Ice says with a chuckle. “The one thing is he was getting way too good of an ear for music. He was not going to be the next Big Dog. He was going to have his own thing to offer and he was going to outgrow it.”
Drake’s own stuff was going to