One year ago, Aubrey Drake Graham was best known for playing Jimmy Brooks on “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Fast forward to 2009 and the Canadian actor-turned-rapper has a No. 1 record (“Best I Ever Had”) and Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Eminem on his résumé. He’s also readying the most-anticipated debut from a rapper since 50 Cent with next year’s Thank Me Later. The Young Money rookie has been holed up in Toronto over the past couple months recovering from knee surgery, but checked in with Rap-Up.com for an update on his eagerly-awaited album.
How far along are you in the recording process?
I’m still in an early stage. This is my first album and it takes a lot for me to commit to a song and be like, “I like this enough that I’m gonna put it on the album.” Every artist will have their album list, like these are the songs I’m considering. It takes a lot for me to put a song onto that list. It’s gotta be a real great song. It’s gotta be something that I feel is timeless and is better than anything that I’ve ever done. Towards the end, you listen to it as a full body of work and start to appreciate certain songs that you may not have seen the vision for initially. I’m gettin’ there though. I’mma get it done. Next few months, it’ll be done.
Who have you worked with so far?
I haven’t really worked with that many people. I sat down with Pharrell for a couple days, but it was very, very early in the recording process, so I wasn’t sonically sure what I wanted. I’m about to sit with Timbaland. Kanye and me have a lot of work to do together, and then other than them, just [Noah “40” Shebib] and Boi-1da who did the majority of the mixtape [So Far Gone] with me.
There are reports that “Shut It Down,” featuring The-Dream and produced by 40, is the first single from the album. Is that true?
No, it’s not the first single. It deserves to be a single at some point, but it’s not the first single.
Have you selected a first single?
No, not yet. I have trouble doing that. I’d say I have about six songs done and to pick from just six is hard for me ’cause I don’t know what else is going to come. With So Far Gone, before “Best I Ever Had” became the single, the entire project was done and it just happened to be the most commercially viable, catchiest song. I like picking my singles like that. Now obviously my management hates that because that doesn’t give them much time to work it. But I’m a big believer that everything should happen organically and if it doesn’t then something’s not right, and I don’t really want to change my formula. Before I start working a single, I need to get about 10, 15, 20 songs done so I can pick from a batch of music as opposed to just committing to something right now.
Does the album have a release date?
Not right now, but I’m hoping for February.