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Drake’s Rise and Toronto’s Transformation: A Tale of Cultural Evolution and Loss

After Dhruva Balram’s family relocated from India to Canada, he matured in a new urban setting with the upbeat tunes of emerging superstar Drake as his backdrop. He reminisces about the pivotal mixtape that scored his first romance but also reflects on where things veered off course.

In 2014, during an NBA playoff game between the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets, the camera caught Drake courtside, casually using a lint roller on his pants. This mundane act went viral, spawning memes and discussions across the internet. The Raptors even capitalized on it by distributing Drake-themed lint rollers to fans, one of which fetched over $55,000 on eBay.

Fast forward to July 2023, British rapper Central Cee appears effortlessly cool in a freestyle video, while Drake, trying to blend in with younger crowds, stands out awkwardly in a flashy red jacket and reading glasses. His attempt at slang draws chuckles, cementing his meme-worthy status. Drake’s influence extends beyond music; he’s become a cultural icon, omnipresent and unavoidable.

Balram vividly recalls the impact of Drake’s breakthrough mixtape, “So Far Gone,” which coincided with his coming-of-age. The tape’s tracks provided the soundtrack to his first love and a sense of boundless possibilities in the air. Despite living in Toronto, Balram initially knew little about Drake but was drawn in by the mixtape’s impressive collaborations and raw, atmospheric production.

“So Far Gone” resonated deeply with Balram, capturing the essence of Toronto’s wintry vibe and Drake’s relatable storytelling. Drake’s lyrics, though simple, conveyed vulnerability and ambition, striking a chord with Balram and many others navigating young adulthood.

Drake’s rise to fame paralleled Toronto’s newfound prominence on the global stage. He paved the way for other artists and rebranded Toronto as “the 6,” a nod to its area codes. OVO, Drake’s label, fostered local talent, further solidifying Toronto’s position in the music industry.

Despite Drake’s meteoric success, Balram observes a shift in his music over the years. What once felt authentic and relatable now seems formulaic and manufactured. Drake’s relentless pursuit of hits has led to a dilution of his artistic depth, mirroring Toronto’s transformation into a city grappling with soaring housing costs and inadequate infrastructure.

Balram laments the loss of Drake’s authenticity and hopes for a return to form, much like Toronto’s longing for its former identity. Both Drake and the city have strayed from their roots, succumbing to mediocrity and complacency.

Yachiga Tavershima
Yachiga Tavershima
Soccer Blogger with a keen eye for detailed reportage. I bring the latest drama in the most dramatic way


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