We read a lot about Drake, but this Jezebel interview with his longtime vocal coach Dionne Osborne is an especially insightful look into his life on the road, process, and development as an artist—not to mention the general mindset of major-league rap right now. She's been working with Drake since his So Far Gone days, and is in his ear when he's on stage and on his case about keeping healthy when he's off. Here, five things she had to say about Drake that we found particularly interesting.
Yes, Drake really is that nice.
"Later on he was like, 'I looked at you and I just knew I was going to love you.' He is exactly what you see. People say he's corny, or he can't be that nice, he can't be so sweet. But I can tell you, he was raised by his mother and his grandmother. He's had strong love from strong females. And we just totally connected."
Hip-hop is hard on the body.
"I've told Drake a million times, we need to do a workshop. No one's really telling hip-hop artists how to take care of themselves—they have short careers, they live it large and hard, with the smoking, the drinking and the partying. My point has always been that the competition is so tremendous, and you must do everything to make the most out of this moment. If you want to be those artists, if you want to be an Eminem or a Kanye, you have to go smarter, not harder. I try to get rappers to remember, you use the same vocal cords that Usher does. Imagine what Usher would sound like if he was smoking a pack a day and never touched a vegetable."
But Drake's worked hard to clean up his act– and his fans should be thankful for it.
"You can't just immediately roll out of bed onto the stage and be a rock star. But they all learned how to help him and Drake changed his habits. Before the next tour, he called me up and was so proud of himself. He said, 'Didi, I got a trainer, I've been working out, and I haven't had any sweet tea.' I was so happy that he was taking it seriously, and he saw the difference. He would come offstage and and say, 'I could go another set.' That frees him up to focus on the connection he makes with his fans in his shows."
His singing has improved under her coaching, and consequently his rapping has, too.
"So, during one tour, I told him, 'Drake, you know what would be really cool? If you could flow directly out of your raps into the melody and and go right back into the rap. Just flowing back and forth, back and forth.' He told me later on, 'You said that to me and it kind of pissed me off. I thought I was already doing that.' But then he went home, listened to his stuff and started working on it. He got what I was saying. He's got that ability and he improved."
He's a sweaty dude.
"And he's always drinking water, which is really good, because I've never seen anyone who is not a full-blown athlete sweat like that. He looks like he's showering on stage, he's shorted out microphones, let me tell you."
You can and should read the whole thing here; Dionne is a true treasure.
Photo credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty