—Dionne Osborne, Drake’s vocal coach, speaking with a reporter from Jezebel. Among other shocking details of the Toronto-based rapper’s private life revealed during the interview: he loves sweet tea and once kept a humidifier on his tour bus to prevent his vocal cords from drying out.
It’s been a big year in the corridors of power, with an infusion of ambitious new leaders in the city’s most influential institutions. Here, our annual ranking of political rainmakers, Bay Street moguls, real estate gurus, major league sports stars, celebrity chefs, culture czars, and everyone else who matters now. In a nutshell: the people whose smarts, connections and clout are changing Toronto as we know it.
The high-profile spectators who’ve made Raps games the hottest ticket in Toronto sports
Half the fun of NBA fandom is peeping stars sitting courtside. Unfortunately, for a long time, Raps games were as celestial as a bag of fertilizer. No longer. Last fall, that rascally love-’em-leave-’em super-exec Tim Leiweke named Drake the organization’s global ambassador, and the wattage of home games suddenly surged. So did the fringe benefits of season’s tickets. Here, the luminaries who have sat courtside in the era of Drizzy, and the high-rolling fans who have a front-row view of all the action.
Last weekend, Drake rang in his 28th birthday at Susur Lee’s Dundas West restaurant Bent. He later Instagrammed a play-by-play of the night, which saw him hanging with his dudes, striking cool-looking poses, chatting with the chef and basking in the glow of a sparkler-strewn birthday cake. (The latter, while appropriately massive, didn’t quite match the DIY intensity of last year’s lumpy ode to Toronto). Like a real down-to-earth guy, Drake seems to have invited mainly family and friends, including manager Oliver El-Khatib and other members of his OVO posse. He even submitted to tender birthday-boy hugs from his mom, Sandi. What a guy, right?
–The fine levied on the Toronto Raptors by the NBA after Drake, the team’s “global ambassador,” gave an on-stage welcome to Oklahoma City Thunder player Kevin Durant at last weekend’s OVO Fest. (Durant was apparently in attendance.) Drake’s offense, according to the CBC, was “tampering with a player under contract.”
The rap superstar has amassed a flock of musical disciples who guest on his albums, record on his label and perform at OVO Fest, his annual hip-hop blowout, which takes place this year on August 3 and 4. Here, a taxonomy of Drake’s most prolific protégés.
In this Civic Holiday edition of The Weekender, two giant music festivals, a nice walk and three other things to do in Toronto this weekend.
Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade
Formerly known as Caribana, the Scotiabank Caribbean Carnival Grand Parade has an awkward name now, but it’s otherwise the same as it ever was: massive, loud, crowded and (weather permitting) deathly hot. Anyone willing to brave the discomforts associated with the event will be rewarded, though. The flamboyant costumes and elaborate floats are unlike anything else Toronto’s festival season has to offer, and the excitement of the largely Caribbean crowd is contagious. Aug. 2. FREE, or $20 for a bleacher seat. Exhibition Place and Lake Shore Blvd., torontocaribbeancarnival.com
Cabana Pool Bar, Charles Khabouth’s Vegas-style oasis in the Port Lands, is a star-studded playground for the buxom, Botoxed and booze-soaked. Here, a look at the wildest, most orgiastic antics to date
On Tuesday, Billboard revealed that the name of Drake’s still-unrecorded next album will be Views From the 6—and then confusion set in. Unlike the rapper’s previous album titles, which have been intelligible if slightly cryptic (Take Care, Nothing Was the Same), this one is so open to interpretation that even Billboard didn’t know quite what to make of it. And that’s despite a preponderance of evidence that it’s just a sly reference to the last digit in Toronto’s area code.
Even so, not everyone is convinced.
What’s one of the best things to do in Toronto this summer? If you can, get out of Toronto. See the world. Find another city’s heat and construction and transit problems to keep you occupied—preferably a city that’s got a globally recognized art gallery or museum or horse race or something. Of course, if you find yourself stuck in the city all season, that’s okay: there’s a lot going on here that, if you squint your eyes and hold your nose (and sometimes, even if you don’t do either) could actually be comparable to all the world-class things you’d find elsewhere. You want art? We’ve got some! Ancient Chinese artifacts? You know it. Exotic fish? Sure, that too. We’re not suggesting you tear up your plane tickets or anything. But we do think that this summer, Toronto might just be able to compete with the big boys. Here, a brief guide to just some of what’s exceptional in this city—and how it stacks up against other big-ticket events around the world.
After Drake‘s famous pants de-linting episode during game two of the Toronto Raptors’ playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, this was inevitable. According to the Star, fans at tonight’s game five, at the ACC, will have their pick of two different lint-roller giveaways. There will be 1,200 official OVO/Raptors-branded rollers from Bounce, and IKEA has announced that it will be handing out some lint rollers of its own. Even deputy mayor Norm Kelly is hip to this emerging lintlessness fad, so popular with the youth.
— Norm Kelly (@DMayorKelly) April 30, 2014
And so, no matter the outcome of tonight’s game, the loser will be lint.
After all the Toronto Raptors publicity stunts we’ve seen during the past few days, this 10-second clip of Drake meticulously de-fuzzing his pants at Tuesday night’s Raps-versus-Nets playoff game seems to have finally done the trick. The internet is laughing at the rapper’s fastidiousness (he’s so non-threatening that even pet hair isn’t scared of him), but we totally get why he’d want to be lint-free. The cred of an entire sports empire is in those pants.
UPDATE: The video we originally embedded has been removed from YouTube. This new one is zoomed-out, but Drake is still visible in the background. Or, check out this giant animated GIF.
Drake is now the second Tononto-area music superstar to have recently been taken to court over an alleged assault in Toronto—the difference being that he, unlike Justin Bieber, isn’t the one who supposedly administered the beating. The story, according to the Globe, goes like this:
In August 2012, a man named Akiel Catwell was at Muzik Nightclub, a late-night venue at Exhibition Place, for an afterparty related to Drake’s annual OVOFest. After last call, Catwell claims he was walking outside with his girlfriend when he came across Waka Flocka Flame, the Atlanta-based rapper. Catwell’s girlfriend posed for a picture with Mr. Flame, and then, for reasons unclear, the rapper’s bodyguards beat Catwell into unconsciousness, breaking three of his teeth in the process. (The details of the beating haven’t been proven in court.)
Now, Catwell is suing not only Waka Flocka Flame, but also Drake, OVO Inc., and Muzik, for $4.8 million—a sum Drake’s lawyer has called “grossly excessive.” To be clear, Drake isn’t alleged to have been anywhere near the beating; his only connection to the incident is that the night’s entertainment happened to be related to his festival.
This is only the latest in a string of newsworthy happenings at Muzik over the past few months. The nightclub has become known as a favourite hangout of Rob Ford’s. (For those keeping track, that’s Bieber, Drake, and Ford in one article: the Toronto clickbait trifecta.) Also, its owner, Zlato Starkovski, was instrumental in persuading Exhibition Place’s board to ban electronic dance music events in city-owned buildings on the Ex grounds, leaving Muzik as the only sizeable EDM venue in the area.
When hip-hop and NBA stars want a good time, they call party queen Mona Halem. Inside a decadent world of $700 champagne, secret guest lists and hordes of beautiful women
On a Monday night last August, half the hip-hop world showed up unannounced in Toronto: Lil Wayne, P. Diddy, Kanye West, Big Sean, French Montana, Mase, TLC. All had agreed to perform as surprise guests at Drake’s annual concert, OVO Fest, which, like all things Drake, has become wildly successful. The ability to produce a roster of acts that reads like a fantasy Grammy lineup speaks to Drake’s clout, but the secrecy involved presented a practical problem: with no advance notice, nobody had organized an after-party. For this group of career ballers, it was a rare case of all blinged out and nowhere to go. Even Drizzy, who lives in Toronto for at least part of the year, was at a loss. Then someone suggested the obvious: call Mona.