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September 18, 2014

Drake on 'Degrassi': A Rapper's Early Days on Canadian TV

by Dave Kilpatrick, posted Jun 4th 2010 7:00PM
Canadian rapper Drake has become one of the hottest names in hip-hop since emigrating stateside to pursue his music career.

In the space of about a year, he's launched multiple singles to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 chart, inked a record deal with prominent rap label Young Money Entertainment (distribution by Universal Republic), and performed at the Grammy Awards alongside his perpetually crunked mentor Lil Wayne. His new album 'Thank Me Later' leaked online this week to very positive reviews, and figures to bump him up to the level of rap superstar.

Legions of TV fans, however, know Drake by a different name -- Jimmy Brooks. That's the name of the character that Aubrey Drake Graham (yes, Drake is actually his middle name) portrayed for seven seasons on the Canadian high-school melodrama 'Degrassi: The Next Generation.'

(For those unfamiliar with 'Degrassi,' think 'Saved By the Bell,' only with every installment as full of angst and emotional crisis as the infamous Jessie Spano caffeine pills episode. Needless to say, unintentional comedy abounds.)

Drake was involved in some of 'Degrassi's' hardest hitting story lines, not to mention some scenarios so ridiculous that they could draw a snicker from Sarah McLachlan on her weepiest day (she's Canadian, you can look it up). So let's take a look back at some of Drake's best 'Degrassi' moments, shall we?

Jimmy Has Intimacy Issues

This Canadian promo for season 6 of 'Degrassi: The Next Generation' captures the spirit of the show pretty accurately. That's Drake. Or rather, Jimmy Brooks: the one with intimacy issues and the conspicuously pitched tent at the :38 mark.


Jimmy Kicks a Freestyle

If you're wondering how a clean-cut canuck who cut his teeth on a teen soap opera could beat the odds to become Lil Wayne's rap protegee, you're not alone. The question must be asked: did Weezy and company emerge from a cloud of smoke long enough to perform any sort of background check on their newest acquisition?

They probably did, and maybe it was this talent show rehearsal from season three of Degrassi that sealed the deal. With rhymes like this, its no wonder Wanye's crew has dubbed Drake their rookie of the year.


Jimmy Tries Out for the Spirit Squad

Or maybe it was this tryout for the Degrassi High spirit squad. :51 second mark


Jimmy Gets Tough on the Basketball Court

Okay, enough embarrassment, for now. Here's some insight into how Drake may have been able to win Weezy's respect. He's tough on the basketball court, as shown in this tense recess moment from 'Degrassi.'


Jimmy is a Lover

But Jimmy Brooks wasn't just a fighter on 'Degrassi.' He was also a lover. A middle school lover. A middle school lover that apparently inspired people to make YouTube montages.


Jimmy Gets Shot

And then there's this: the kid has taken a bullet. In this clip from one of Degrassi's most shocking episodes, Jimmy Brooks gets shot in the back by a school-shooter, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Getting shot and living to fight another day? Undeniably gangster, just ask Larry Flynt, Bob Marley, Suge Knight, or 50 cent.


Drake Does a PSA

Drake, though, may have discovered the one way of sucking the cool out of a bulletproof persona: schilling for the authorities. Here he is in a 2004 Canadian Public Service Announcement against gun violence. A rapper hasn't shown this much love for the badge since Ice-T changed his tune by joining the cast of Law and Order: SVU.





So there it is. What have we learned? In an age where the 'rapper turned actor' club is growing by the minute (Will Smith, Tupac, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Eminem, P. Diddy, Method Man, 50 Cent, Common), Drake is charting new territory as a child-actor turned rapper. Maybe the closest parallel to his career path is Justin Timberlake, who went from the Mickey Mouse Club to a highly successful career as a recording artist, and is now acting again, in movies.

So where would the Timberlake career path take Drake? It might see him take over the rap game for a few years before getting back into acting, and say, landing the lead role in a Barack Obama biopic. (Who cares if he's Canadian?) Dude's come a long way since that Degrassi talent show.

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StreetKatze

hahaha...so glad he can sing...so glad!

July 16 2010 at 5:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anon Y. Mouse

You lost all credibility IMHO, when you compared the Degrassi series ("The Kids of Degrassi Street", "Degrassi Junior High", "Degrassi High", "Degrassi: The Next Generation") to "Saved By the Bell"; because they are not similiar in any way, shape, or form!

June 22 2010 at 7:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kylie

Degrassi is awesome, and legions of fans will follow his career!

June 09 2010 at 2:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
shamon

nice overview of drake i also saw all those episodes you should have put best friends to the end all the shit spinner did like steal his ipod and help get him shot then jimmy forgiving him .

June 05 2010 at 8:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sarah

this is so stupid. i think it was the fact that he can rap, has international appeal, and can pull crossover numbers because he was on a tv show is the real reason he was signed.

June 05 2010 at 8:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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