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Toronto according to Drake: in which we assess the hip-hop star’s hometown obsession

Toronto according to Drake

Drake likes Toronto. A lot. He raps about it. Talks about it. Etches its landmarks into his flesh. That’s mostly a good thing: it means hip-hop fans from Texas to Tokyo know where Forest Hill is or that Sotto Sotto dishes up a decent pasta. But if Drake is our chief cultural ambassador, we think he should be a tad more discerning about which people, places and things he trumpets to the world.

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Real Estate

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Real Estate Cheat Sheet: the New York Times eyes Toronto’s towers; Drake lists his Yorkville condo

(Image: Drake)

The top stories in Toronto real estate this week: what rising interest rates could mean for the housing market; how the New York Times unleashed a new round of condo-based hand-wringing; and why buyers keep on buying.

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UPDATED: See inside Drake’s Yorkville condo, which he just sold for $3.75 million

(Image: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment)

Toronto rapper Drake has put his Yorkville digs up for sale, which means plush bedroom ceilings, patriotic bookcases and the afterglow of a global entertainer can all be yours for a cool $4.2 million. (Actually, the place is more understated than we’d expect from someone who’s clearly well-versed in rap star clichés.) This isn’t Drake’s first foray into the real estate market: he sold a pair of Miami condos for a $500,000 profit last March, then purchased a sprawling California mansion for $7.7 million later that year. Apparently, he’s not interested in new friends, but new homes are a different story. [h/t BuzzBuzzHome]

UPDATE: After lowering the price to $3.895 million, the Degrassi alum sold his condo for $3.75 million on October 21. There’s been no word on whether Drake’s looking for a new Toronto pad—but, given his new gig with the Raptors and his hometown love affair, it seems likely he’ll need one. [BuzzBuzzHome]

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Culture

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Current Obsession: Drake’s new Toronto-tastic video for “Started From the Bottom”

Drake was a busy guy last night. While he was attending the Grammy’s—where he picked up the Best Rap Album award for Take Care and pretended he was too cool to dance to the Bob Marley tribute—his label officially released “Started From the Bottom,” the lead single from him upcoming album Nothing Was the Same.

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Editor’s Letter (January 2013): why Toronto is suddenly such a hotbed of creative talent

Sarah FulfordOver the past year or so, a particular breed of talented Torontonians made it big. Sheila Heti’s quirky semi-autobiographical novel How Should a Person Be?, about a bunch of Toronto artists struggling to live life authentically, became an influential bestseller, endorsed by Girls creator Lena Dunham. The music world gushed over the moody R&B artist The Weeknd, otherwise known as Abel Tesfaye, a 22-year-old of Ethiopian descent from Scarborough, who was discovered in 2011 by his pal Drake and is now filling stadiums all over
North America.

The music journalist John Norris called Tesfaye the best musical talent since Michael Jackson. And the filmmaker Sarah Polley recently released two movies: Take This Waltz, a much-admired romantic comedy set in Toronto, and Stories We Tell, a riveting, critically acclaimed documentary about her complicated
family history.

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Features

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50 Most Influential 2012: a ranking of Toronto’s top tycoons, backroom operators and supersize egos

50 Most Influential

The people driving the agenda for the city are more likely to come from outside local government than inside. This was the year our premier, rendered virtually impotent by a minority legislature, up and quit without warning. And our mayor, who listens to no one and refuses to build consensus on council, has created a city hall power vacuum.

What follows is Toronto Life’s list of the real influence peddlers—the people who, either publicly or behind the scenes, have had the greatest impact on the city. We looked for people whose power was broad enough to be felt across different sectors, or else so palpable in their immediate field that it somehow changed things for the rest of us. We looked for people whose ability to alter public opinion, raise money, rally troops or simply get stuff done was both formidable and undeniable. The result is a carefully calculated and highly opinionated look at power in the city in 2012.

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People

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SPOTTED: Snoop Dogg’s alter ego Snoop Lion popped by Toronto

(Image: Snoop Dogg)

Snoop Dogg Lion performed at Osheaga, The Hoxton and at Drake’s OVO Fest this weekend, and he managed to do all of this without any other major public appearances or sightings. The Lion was spotted hanging out with Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics at OVO Fest, and it’s been reported that Snoop showed up an hour and a half late for his Hoxton show. He also, apparently, managed to openly smoke pot on stage (which, well, duh).

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SPOTTED: Drake ditches his friends after a cup of mango sorbet

Last night in Yorkville, rapper (and singer) Drake was spotted at Summer’s Sweet Memories Ice Cream with two pals (one appeared to be recent Worthy 30 recipient Queen Shmink, but Drake’s bodyguards obscured our source’s sight lines). After downing his cup of mango sorbet, Drizzy got up and booked it without saying a word—and his buddies seemed fairly unhappy about the abrupt exit. The two jilted friends sat there until one bitterly commented, “Geeze, I guess you’re driving then.”

(Images: Drake, Brennan Schnell; Queen Shmink, Jenna Marie Wakani)

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People

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QUOTED: Drake deems himself the first person to successfully rap and sing

“There were people who incorporated melody before me, but I would deem myself the first person to successfully rap and sing.”

—The ever-modest Drake, explaining to London’s The Jewish Chronicle that although some people have done a little rapping and singing in the past, he’s the first one to ever really nail it. Somewhere Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, Cee Lo Green and a bevy of other artists are sighing (or doing this). [h/t Vulture]

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GALLERY: Drake buys his Hidden Hills home, complete with a Playboy-style grotto

Drake’s making headlines with his purchase of the Hidden Hills, California mansion he has reportedly been renting for the past several months. The massive estate hit the market back in 2009 with an asking price of $27 million, but the thrifty Toronto-born performer managed to snap up the place from former owner Larry Pollack of Saddle Ranch Chop Houses for a mere $7.7 million. The seven bedroom, nine bathroom home is not short on amenities: it boasts an in-home theatre with seating for 24, a volleyball court, wine cellar and tasting room, as well as games and massage rooms. For the athletically inclined, the home has a gym, facilities fit to house five horses (when one isn’t enough), a riding area and a mechanical bull (naturally). There’s also an outdoor pool with waterfalls, a water slide and a grotto to rival the one at the Playboy mansion. We’re patiently awaiting our invite to the house-warming party.

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Culture

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Short list announced for Polaris Music Prize, Toronto well-represented

The short list for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize was revealed this afternoon at The Drake Hotel, and of the 10 finalists, half are from Toronto. Previous Polaris winner Fucked Up’s David Comes to Life; Etobicoke “doom soul” artist Cold SpecksI Predict A Graceful Expulsion; and half-Montreal/half-Toronto Pan-Asian-psychedelia (among other influences) fusion duo Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s YT//ST are all in the running for the $30,000 grand prize. Not surprisingly, indie darling Feist and actor-cum-rapper Drake also made the list for their fourth (Metals) and second (Take Care) albums, respectively. This means Toronto now has a 50 per cent chance of bringing home the prize (even more if you count the Ottawa-born, but Toronto-based Kathleen Edwards). Those are way better odds than the 25 per cent chance the Big Smoke had when the long list was announced.

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Culture

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Polaris Music Prize announces long list, and it’s 25 per cent Torontonian

Earlier today, the Polaris Music Prize announced its long list of the 40 Canadian bands and musicians eligible to win this year’s award. Over the past six years, the Polaris Prize has honoured Canadian artists with a monetary prize (to the tune of $30,000) for creating the album of the year, based solely on artistic merit. This year’s list boasts 10 Toronto-born and/or -based nominees, which means this city’s musicians represent 25 per cent of the list. Sadly, that makes Toronto less worthy than in 2011, when the list was 30 per cent Torontonian.

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Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 3, because Drake had babies

Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 3, Because Drake had babies

The next wave of hip-hop stars, clockwise from left: Gangis Khan, JD Era, The Weeknd, and The Airplane Boys. (Image: Weeknd by Getty Images)

As fans of the rappers Maestro, Kardinal and K-os well know, Toronto hip hop has been thriving for at least a couple of decades. But despite local success, the rest of the world was never all that interested in the T Dot’s brand of rhyme. Not, that is, until an actor from the mean streets of Fo’ Hill named Aubrey Graham packed up his Degrassi-issue wheelchair and re-emerged as Drake, rocking an auto-tuned mic beside Lil Wayne and almost single-handedly putting Toronto hip hop on the map.

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Culture

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Drake announces who will perform at this year’s OVO Festival

Drake (Image: Amber)

Drake has announced that his third annual OVO Festival (October’s Very Own, for the uninitiated) will take place on August 5 at the Molson Amphitheatre, and A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz and The Weeknd will be performing.  The festival has been known to have surprise visitors (Jay-Z, for example), so perhaps we can expect similar famous friends to show (maybe Rihanna, Nicki Minaj or Azealia Banks to add a female to the card?).  Surprise guests or not, it is sure to sell out, so fans would be wise to participate in the pre-sale. (YOLO. Which, for the uninitiated, is another acronym Drake likes to use.)

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Drake is humbled by a mega-billionaire

T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire oil tycoon, isn’t the kind of guy you’d expect to see on Twitter, let alone retweet Drake. But yesterday, the Oklahoma-born oil king, whose Twitter account claims it’s updated “by Boone himself and members of his team,” did just that. Pickens responded to Drake’s tweet “The first million is the hardest,” saying “The first billion is a helluva lot harder.” Why Pickens decided to retweet the Canadian rapper, we’re not sure, but Drake is going to think twice the next time he tries to humblebrag.

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