On this day in 1986, Aubrey Drake Graham was born.
And of course, at the time, there was no way to understand the major significance that October 24 would eventually hold. We were years away from Degrassi, decades from his turn as a game-changing hip-hop artist, and a few more years than that from his very lonely photo shoot atop Toronto’s CN Tower.
But most importantly, we had yet to understand that the world had just welcomed the greatest living perennial teenager of all time — a man who would go on to set the standard for our own approach to conflict, conflict resolution (or lack thereof), and a new level of zest for living one’s best life.
In short, Drake is the 30-year-old teenager we need and deserve. And here’s why.
The Man, the Myth, the Love Life
This summer, we were riveted by the trials and tribulations of Drake and Rihanna: The Experience. It was a relationship defined by collaborations, half-kisses, and one-sided declarations of love, and it ended earlier this month after evoking the worst of our high-school nightmares. (The only thing missing was a public fallout at this year’s spring fling.)
Not that we should’ve been shocked. While Rihanna was acting like a grown-ass woman in a grown-ass romantic relationship, Drake was the teen boy who could not believe he got to date her. And such was his downfall: Instead of acting his age, he consistently gushed over her in a way that tipped the scales of thirstiness (the celebrity equivalent of changing one’s IM screen name to ~*i <3 Rih*~).
It was a beautifully teen-like way of being. While we could sit back and say that we would’ve acted differently, we know we wouldn’t have. And, like us wee baby mortals, Drizzy embraced his insecurities and metaphorically stood outside Rihanna’s window holding an oversize radio as the world sat there and whispered, “Does he know that she’s out with her friends right now?” (He did not. And now they will not be going to prom.)
The Agony and the Ecstasy: Aubrey’s Ankle
As if plucked from the archives of Saved by the Bell, Aubs was forced to cancel most of his tour this month in the wake of a sprained ankle. Which actually proves the difference between movie teens and their real-life counterparts: If he were a fake teen, Drake would’ve partnered with Future (à la Screech and Lisa) to resurrect a beloved dance called “The Sprain.”
But instead, he channeled 16-year-old me (I was a real teen once!), who called in sick to work at Future Shop when she sprained her ankle after drinking a bottle of wine one night. (And like Drake, I went out with my friends anyway.)
You Complete Me: The Raptors’ Biggest Fan
For some of us, there’s a period in early adulthood in which we abandon our sports obsessions and chalk up our former allegiances to merely being a temporary place for teen feelings to go. Years later, when we finally return, sports become less an all-consuming life passion than an extension of our broader tastes.
But not Aubrey.
As the literal ambassador of the Toronto Raptors, Drizzy has come to live the type of teen dream that parents spend years trying to squash in hopes of instilling “realistic” professional goals. Not to mention, he makes absolutely no attempt to be cool around his heroes. Despite the clout that comes with hosting the All-Star Game (which he did this past winter), he’s created a legacy of thirst and excitement reserved exclusively for youth. It is a gift, it is a source of joy. It is Peak Teen from our 30-year-old son.
Bow Down, Bitches: Drake Meets Eminem
At some point, every teen boy of the 2000s wanted to meet and/or kneel in homage to Eminem. Then, at age 29, Drake actually did both, making some of us question whether we were wrong to have stopped listening to The Eminem Show back in 2003. (We weren’t.)
#WHY: The “Dance Club”
But the other thing about our 30-year-old teen son is this: Back in the summer, he announced plans to open a dance club that is not-technically-a-strip-club-even-though-it-obviously-is-Jesus-Christ-Aubrey-Graham. And look, entrepreneurship is great. In Canadian high schools, it is celebrated through co-op classes and whatever that one career class I took in a sad attempt to graduate on time was. But Drake’s inability to speak about sex, or his strip club, like a grown-ass man epitomizes teen boy awkwardness. It is the real-life equivalent of “The Kiss,” that poster first-year college students have no issue putting up, despite getting very weirded out by real conversations about contraceptive methods. Woof.
You Know I Always Go There: The Cheesecake Factory
This is not me throwing shade at The Cheesecake Factory. Their menu is vast, their service is swift. But we know Drake loves to go there. And that’s as fair as it is odd considering that at age 30, most of us dial down the references to staples of the teen dining circuit. I mean, personally, I will always be in debt to eleventh-grade nights spent dining on East Side Mario’s unlimited pasta special, but goddamn it, Aubrey, you do not write a song about it.
I Just Have A Lot of Feelings: The Aubrey Drake Graham Special™
Teens excel at many things adults do not. They are expressive, they are vulnerable, they are earnest, and they have a lot of things to say. Sometimes, they speak first and think second, and with those moments come the lessons needed to grow and evolve into a grown-up who takes a breath before saying exactly what’s on their mind.
But not our dear Aubrey. In a world slow to celebrate emotion, Drake offers them all and wears them proudly on his sleeve — so much that his short fuse was spoofed in an SNL sketch this past May. Which not only makes him the realest 30-year-old teen, but also makes him special. Most pop stars make at least a token effort at being “cool,” but Drake rejects coolness wholly, embracing his enthusiasm for his own career and the feelings that led to it, and capitalizing on his success by doing everything from launching a clothing line to hosting Drake nights at select Raptors games to dancing like no one’s watching.
Like the most genuine teen, Drake’s feelings and thoughts and ambition and excitement cannot be contained. And while that obviously makes him the adult equivalent of the ultimate high-school overachiever, it also makes him a unique artist we care about to the point of remembering his birthday.
So happy birthday, Aubrey. Here’s hoping 30 is the year you finally meet your soul mate: