Jay Smooth, the man behind the video blog Ill Doctrine and host of New York City’s longest-running hip hop radio program, recently interviewed hip hop and R&B artist Drake about how his racial identity is perceived in the U.S. versus his native Canada.
Drake, 25, became famous for playing Jimmy Brooks on the teen television series “Degrassi.” He spoke with Jay Smooth about race, his new upcoming album, his fascination with battle rap. Here’s an excerpt:
You and I have similar backgrounds, a black dad and a white, Jewish mom. Do those issues of race and identity play out differently in Canada compared to the US?
Well, Canada’s like a cultural melting pot, especially Toronto. America, I come here sometimes and I witness, like, real segregation. Like when you go to LA and it’s like, “This area’s Mexican, and this area’s white.” That’s crazy to me because in Toronto we have cultural areas–”OK, this is Little India, this is Chinatown, this is where there the Greek people are”–but it’s not segregated. It’s not like you can’t go there and participate in the culture. So it’s a bit different. I think Canada’s very accepting. But at the same time I get a lot of love everywhere in the world for just being diverse, instead of just being straight out [one thing]. I’m all mixed up and people embrace that.
When you identify yourself this way do you ever get questioned on it, like, “Why do you call yourself ‘mixed’?” or, “What’s wrong with just being black?”
I mean, I’m so light that people are like “you’re white.” That’s what I get more than anything, people saying “you’re white, you’re not black.” But I mean those are whatever, those are just silly jokes. That’s like “the light-skinned complex.” That’s a very American thing as well, light skin and dark skin, like I don’t even notice that. Girls will be like “oh I’ve seen you talk to dark-skinned girls, that’s so good.” And I’m like “why? I talk to any girl!” I talk to anybody, you know?
<p>Drake is releasing his second album "Take Care" on November 15th. He's signed on to Lil Wayne's Young Money Entertainment label.</p><p><a href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2011/11/drake_interview_asap_rocky_nelly_battle_rap.php">Visit the Village Voice for the complete interview. </a><br /></p><p><br /></p> <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/cimoNqiulUE?rel=0" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" width="640"></iframe>