Toronto according to Drake: in which we assess the hip-hop star’s hometown obsession
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.
Our Area Code
Last August, he had 416 inked onto his right flank—a touching tribute to the city. At least he didn’t go with 647 or (God forbid) 437.
Our Boys of Summer
In April 2012, Drake wore a retro Jays jacket on the set of “Take it to the Head,” suggesting he’s no fair-weather fan. He might consider an update to the current logo—the 2013 Jays have finally begun to turn things around.
Our Best-Known University
During an October 2011 radio interview with Funk Flex in New York, Drake wore a U of T hoodie—a nice nod to post-secondary learning, but the look was more proud dad than rap star.
Our Adequate Italian Hang-outs
Drake’s July 2009 declaration that Little Italy’s Vivoli is one of his favourite places in the world (he watched the Euro Cup there) sets the bar a little high for this simple pizza and pasta spot.
Our High Flyers
After Raptor rookie Terrence Ross delivered a jump-over-a-kid, ball-between-the-legs, one-handed slam at the NBA dunk contest in February, Drake draped his chains around Ross’s neck, letting the world know that the under-hyped player is not just talented, but hip hop–approved, too.
Our Most Famous Landmark
In March 2012, he debuted a CN Tower bicep tat. Since the tower got LED lights and the kinda cheesy, kinda badass EdgeWalk, we’ve been fans, too.
Joso’s, the Av and Dav seafood emporium; Sotto Sotto, the low-lit Yorkville trattoria; and Swish By Han, a downtown bi bim bap-ery, all receive shout-outs in “5AM in Toronto”: “Stashin’ money like hoarders off multi-platinum recordins / Eatin’ like I’m seated at Swish, Sotto and Joso’s.” A culinary-minded visitor to Toronto could do worse than to follow his recommendations.
The Toronto Parks and Rec Department
In the video for “Started from the Bottom,” kids chase a soccer ball across a Toronto Parks and Rec logo. We’re proud of our various municipal departments, but fandom has its limits.
Our Homegrown Pharmacies
In the “Started from the Bottom” video, he’s a Shoppers Drug Mart employee who gets promoted to night manager. Pharmacies, while useful, are decidedly unhip.
Our Swankiest Hoods
In “Started from the Bottom,” his mom gangster-leans in front of his modest boyhood home in Forest Hill, then Drake cruises the ’hood in an Audi convertible. Moms are great. But drawing attention to one’s relatively ritzy neighbourhood doesn’t fit with the Dickensian storyline.
Our Youth Hockey League
In January 2012, while touring the dressing room during the NHL All-Star game, Drake explained to defenceman Zdeno Chara how he grew up playing right wing and tossed in a proud shout-out to his youth club, the Weston Lions.