Drake — the artist formerly known as Aubrey Graham — has been able to keep a relatively clean reputation in the public eye, especially for someone with so many scandals attached to his name.
The Toronto-raised rapper has had an image unthreatening enough to host the ESPYs and to be considered one of hip-hop’s "nice guys," a far cry from romantic rival Chris Brown and other rappers like his Young Money colleague Lil’ Wayne, who makes no secret of his love for guns and his Blood gang affiliation.
Still, if you scratch past the surface of Drizzy’s demeanor, you’ll find quite a bit of dirt, ranging from a past donning blackface to rap beefs, to cheating allegations, to alleged baby mama drama. While Drake has kept much of his private life private, the dark underbelly of his celebrity has come into the light more than ever, courtesy of stars, like his ex-girlfriend Rihanna, exposing his shady side.
He got into a bottle-throwing brawl with Chris Brown
In June 2012, Drake and Brown reportedly got into a bottle-throwing bar fight at New York City nightclub W.i.P. Brown’s face was injured in the melee, TMZ reported, as were members of Drake and Brown’s respective entourages and innocent bystanders (including NBA star Tony Parker) who were just trying to enjoy a night out. The club also suffered significant property damage from the incident, with a lot of broken glass and furniture, as well as scratches on the floor from shattered glass.
A club promoter who was at WiP at the night of the incident claimed to Complex that Brown sent a bottle of champagne to Drake, who returned it with a vulgar note about Rihanna, with whom Brown had been in a volatile on-again, off-again relationship. However, TMZ reported that Drake started the drama when he started screaming at Brown from his side of the VIP section. Both Brown and Drake left the scene before cops arrived and denied any wrongdoing (though Drake’s team tried to pin the issues on Meek Mill), and neither faced any charges.
He played the victim in his relationship with Rihanna
Drake and Rihanna were first linked in May 2009, when Page Six reported that the pair were spotted locking lips at a Lucky Strike bowling alley in the Big Apple. However, they both denied any romance rumors and insisted they were merely platonic pals.
However, in Drake’s song "Fireworks," he dropped major hints that there was more to the story, with lyrics including, "I could tell it wasn’t love, I just thought you’d f**k with me / Who could’ve predicted Lucky Strikes would have you stuck with me? … Now all of a sudden these gossip sites wanna cover me … You could’ve been the one, but it wasn’t that serious."
He would later tell The New York Times that Rihanna essentially played him and broke his heart, whining, "You know what she was doing to me? She was doing exactly what I’ve done to so many women throughout my life, which is show them quality time, then disappear. I was like, ‘Wow, this feels terrible.’"
He tried to steal Rihanna’s spotlight
Drake went beyond public with Rihanna leading up to the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, even going so far as to rent a billboard gushing over her. At the ceremony, the tuxedo-clad rapper gave a fawning speech about RiRi, effectively making her moment all about him. While Rihanna was quiet about the moment at the time, she later opened up about how uncomfortable it was for her.
"The VMAs is such a fan-focused awards show, so having that energy around me, and knowing the people who had received the award in the past, made it feel like a big deal," Rihanna told Vogue in its June 2018 issue. "Waiting through that speech was probably the most uncomfortable part. I don’t like too many compliments; I don’t like to be put on blast." She added that, while she and Drake aren’t friends anymore, they don’t necessarily have any bad blood either.
He may have cheated on Rihanna
For all his "woe is me" talk about Rihanna, rumor has it he actually cheated on the "Umbrella" singer during their on-again, off-again relationship. Sources told Life & Style (via Hollywood Life) that Rihanna caught Drake sending some rather sketchy texts with other women while they were dating in 2016. The magazine (via Hollywood Life) reported that one of those women was Dakota Gonzalez, an Instagram model, while Bossip claimed that he was also seeing another Instagram model, India Love, while he was supposedly dating Rihanna.
His alleged romance with Gonzalez was reportedly the affair that drove RiRi over the edge, with Life & Style claiming that she had a full-fledged "breakdown" over Drizzy’s cheating. To be fair, if he was as flagrant about it as was reported — he allegedly "paraded" Gonzalez around his concert on Sept. 11, 2016, after bringing Rihanna out and professing his love for her onstage the very night before — she had every right to be shocked and upset by his behavior.
He’s got some serious baby mama drama
In May 2017, TMZ reported that former porn star Sophie Brussaux claimed she was pregnant with Drake’s child and that Drake told her to terminate the pregnancy. His rep denied it, saying in a statement, "This woman has a very questionable background. She has admitted to having multiple relationships. We understand she may have problems getting into the United States. She’s one of many women claiming he got them pregnant."
Ouch! However, the rep also added that Drake would handle his business properly if he were proven to the child’s father — and TMZ reported in late May 2018 that Drake had been sending Brussaux money since just before the birth of her son, Adonis, and that he believes me he may be father but is awaiting a DNA test to prove his paternity.
Drake’s potential paternity was never made too public until Pusha T released diss track "The House of Adidon" in May 2018, which referenced Adonis and Brussaux by name.
He got busted for blackface
Pusha T didn’t limit his Drake disses to audio. He also made an old photo of Drake sporting blackface go viral when he used it as art for his song "The House of Adidon."
The image led to widespread speculation about the origins and context of the photo. Days later, Drake explained himself.
"This was not from a clothing brand shoot or my music career," Drake wrote in an Instagram story (via Page Six). "This picture is from 2007, a time in my life where I was an actor and I was working on a project that was about young black actors struggling to get roles, being stereotyped and typecast. The photos represented how African Americans were once wrongfully portrayed in entertainment … This was to highlight and raise our frustrations with not always getting a fair chance in the industry and to make a point that the struggle for black actors had not changed much."
He may or may not have written a song that could end Kanye West’s career
Drake talks a big game in terms of his rap beefs, but it’s actually unclear how much bite he has behind his bark. In light of his feud with Pusha T, Drake collaborator J Prince revealed on the Sway In The Morning Show that Drizzy wrote a response track to "The House of Adidon," but the world may never actually hear it.
J Prince claimed that he told Drake to stay "out of the pig pen" of Pusha T’s personal digs and revelations, leading Drake to not drop the song in question as of press time. However, J Prince then went on to say that Drake majorly dissed Pusha T’s biggest producer from his album Daytona — none other than Kanye West — in the unreleased track, alleging that Drake’s insults about West’s lifestyle could hurt West’s family and livelihood.
"After speaking with Kanye, I spoke with the brother … and he didn’t want this," J Prince said. "I saw this going to a place that I feel would have ended his career if Drake would’ve put out this song that he had on him. It definitely would’ve hurt families and we’re not in it for that. That’s not Drake’s character to tear a man down to that extent."
Of course, that begs the question: If it’s not Drake’s character to tear a man down in that way, why did he write the song to begin with?
He’s a bad sport and uses bad language
Drake is accused of being a poor sport with a potty mouth to boot. In May 2018, Drizzy was on hand to watch his beloved Toronto Raptors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he was quite a mess in his courtside seat. Drake reportedly got in the face of Cleveland Cavaliers center Kendrick Perkins and screamed obscenities at the NBA star during halftime, TMZ reported. The exchange got so heated that other Cleveland Cavaliers players reportedly had to hold Drake back in order to keep the verbal altercation from escalating to a physical one.
The beef continued after the game, with Drake screaming for Perkins to come out of the tunnel.
Perkins — who’s 6’10" and 270 pounds — later told ESPN (via TMZ), "What happened was I was talking to my old teammate Serge [Ibaka] walking into halftime telling him ‘We about to win this game,’ and Drake butted in talking s**t to me. So I said something back to him."
The Toronto Sun reported that Drake is a regular distraction behind the Raptors’ bench, and Raptors’ president Masai Ujiri (pictured above showing his disdain) told the newspaper that he’s going to have to talk to Drake about his conduct. ESPN reported that Drizzy received an official warning from the NBA about his use of foul language after the Perkins incident, so hopefully he takes his basketball beefing down a notch.
He may have faked a relationship with J.Lo for press
Just like Drake stole Rihanna‘s spotlight at the VMAs in August 2016, he allegedly used Jennifer Lopez to make his own star shine a bit brighter just months later when the pair plastered their PDA all over social media.
Music industry sources told Page Six that Drake and J.Lo were using public speculation about their relationship status to promote a collaboration. The outlet specifically cited video and photographic footage of the maybe-couple kissing at a prom-themed party to a song they worked on together, noting that the setting was actually just a music video set and not a real party.
One insider dished, "This relationship is fake, it is just a publicity stunt to publicize their record together. If Jennifer and Drake were really dating, they’d be way more private about it … Doesn’t Drake realize that it looks weird to declare his love for RiRi at the MTV awards, then start flaunting his chemistry with J.Lo a few months later?"
Indeed, in March 2017, Drake dropped the song "Teenage Fever," which sampled Lopez’s first hit, "If You Had My Love."
He was accused of threatening a stripper
In October 2014, TMZ reported that a stripper going by the moniker Jhonni Blaze filed a police report after allegedly receiving threats from Drake and his entourage after she slept with the rapper. She claimed that Drake believed she was going to speak publicly about her hook-up with him and sent her angry text messages and that several of his associates began banging on her door at home and threatening her life.
Drake’s camp denied the allegations, and, days later, Blaze somewhat backpedaled on her claims, telling the Madd Hatta Morning Show on Houston, Texas’ 97.9 The Box that she never actually called the police on Drake specifically, noting, "I actually called the police because my friend came home and she said that two guys said that they were looking for me. So, I documented that for my protection and for some odd reason people were calling me looney … We were just supposed to be friends and we had some disagreements, some things were said, some threats were being made as far as argument and that was it." She added that she leaked text messages between them to prove that they were, in fact, in contact, because people were accusing her of lying about knowing him personally, and she denied that she’d ever bash him. She said that she believed the threat she received after her encounter with Drake may have been a coincidence.
He signed a man who assaulted a woman
Drake signed his close friend and former bodyguard, Baka (also known as "Baka Not Nice") to his October’s Very Own (OVO) label in June 2017 after Baka was released from jail.
Baka was behind bars for 11 months for a major crime: He pleaded guilty to and was convicted of assaulting a 22-year-old escort, allegedly his girlfriend at the time. He was initially also charged with human trafficking and accused of forcing the woman into prostitution, but she declined to testify against him, so those charges were dropped, the Toronto Sun reported. He had prior convictions of armed robbery, assault, and possession for the purpose of trafficking and had previously spent 13 years in prison.
"When [Baka got out of jail], there’s a lot of different paths that he could have took," Drake said in a statement on Instagram (via BET) when he signed Baka. "And he decided to focus on music. And when he focused on music … It’s an honor and a pleasure [to sign Baka to OVO]. I just want to give this pen to my brother. I love you, G. Trust me. You’ve been holding it down for a long time."
He got way too touchy-feely with a teenager
In January 2019, a video surfaced of Drake kissing a 17-year-old girl onstage during a concert in Colorado, knowing that she was 17. The legal age of consent in that state is 17, but it’s still pretty creepy for a grown man to pursue a teenage girl. TMZ reported that the clip was from May 2010, which would make Drake 23 at the time it was filmed.
After the fan revealed her age to the rapper, he told her, "I can’t go to jail yet, man! 17? How do you look like that? You thick. Look at all this." He then tells her some rather gross stuff we don’t want to reprint here about her chest and kisses her several times.
Drizzy hasn’t commented on the video — perhaps because he’s too busy giving young Millie Bobby Brown dating advice. Here’s hoping he’s warned the Stranger Things starlet to avoid men like him.