Long before becoming a rap megastar, it sounded like Drake still liked to get his own way as an actor too.
Iconic teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation celebrated its 20th anniversary this week. Some of the cast and crew spoke to the A.V. Club to mark the occasion and the most famous star to emerge from the show naturally got mentioned.
Writer and producer James Hurst revealed that Drake – going by Aubrey Graham back in those days – wasn’t too pleased at his character having to use a wheelchair from season four. The rapper played Jimmy Brooks, a basketball star who was paralysed after being wounded in a school shooting.
“There was a letter from a law firm in Toronto, and it was from Aubrey,” Hurst recalled. “It was an odd letter that said, ‘Aubrey Graham will not return to Degrassi Season 6 as Jimmy Brooks unless his injury is healed, and he’s out of the wheelchair.'”
When Hurst fetched for Drake to question him about the letter, Drizzy reportedly told him that he didn’t know anything about the letter.
“I said, ‘Get him down here.’ He came in and was like, ‘What letter? I don’t know about that,'” Hurst revealed. “And I said, ‘All right, I understand. But how do you feel about the wheelchair?’ He’s like, ‘All my friends in the rap game say I’m soft because I’m in a wheelchair.’ And I said, ‘Well, tell your friends in the rap game that you got shot. How much harder can you get? You got shot, and you’re in a wheelchair.’ He was like, ‘Yeah, yeah.'”
You’ve got to appreciate the irony of the softest rapper in the game today being so concerned about his reputation back then. To his credit, Drake relented after Hurst explained the importance of Jimmy’s use of the wheelchair in educating young viewers.
Love Hip Hop?
Get the latest Hip Hop news, features, updates and giveaways straight to your inbox Learn more
“(Drake) instantly backed down,” Hurst said. “I was very passionate about it, and I said, ‘Aubrey, there’s some kid somewhere in a wheelchair, who’s completely ignored, who’s never on television, never gets represented. I need you to represent this person. You’re the coolest kid on the show, and you can say there’s nothing wrong with being in a wheelchair.'”
For more on this topic, follow the Hip Hop Observer.